Thursday, April 17, 2008
Strawberries from Kansai, Japan
Note: In case any of you can't view this post properly, just right-click on your mouse, go to "Encoding", click on "Unicode" and it'll be fine. :)

Well, I absolutely love strawberries and I must have them after dinner every night without fail. I like how they leave a tinge of freshness and sweetness in my mouth. Therefore, there's always this constant supply of USA strawberries in the fridge.

I was hence so pleased to wake up this morning to see this huge carton of strawberries that flew in from Kansai, Japan sitting on the dining table:

Although I'm taking Japanese 5/Business Japanese next semester, I had no idea what "さちのか" means. Therefore, I tried Googling it with "JA徳島市" and I was so happy it led me to the website of the company/farm that grows these strawberries.

After reading through the website, I finally got a clear idea about these strawberries. They originated from 徳島県 (Tokushima Prefecture), a prefecture of Japan located on 四国 (Shikoku Island).

品種は「さちのか」を中心に栽培されています。("さちのか" is actually a particular brand/kind/type of strawberries and they emphasize on the cultivation of this kind of strawberries in Tokushima Prefecture.)

From the website, I also learnt that these strawberries are grown with some kind of new agricultural technology and each and every single strawberry must be manually checked carefully (as they place alot of importance on quality control) before they are all packaged and put into the carton to get ready for shipping.

It was a fairly big carton and within it, there are four separate packets of strawberries. My mom told me that this whole carton was brought back from Japan by my sister's pilot boyfriend and a box like that costs SGD35. I don't know if that's considered pricey: SGD8.75 for each packet. I've seen those (expensive) Korean strawberries (I heard they are supposed to be quite sweet too!) being sold in Singapore's NTUC but never have I tried them because I was always satisfied with those Naturipe Farms or Driscoll's ones my mom always gets. These two are my favourite brands for strawberries as they are always sweet and juicy.

Well, back to these strawberries that are flown in from Japan. Here's how a packet looks like:

I didn't think there are that many strawberries in each packet so I guess it is quite expensive. And look at how red they are:

I washed up in the shortest time (ever) so that I could quickly finish my breakfast and start feasting on the strawberries. And true enough, these lengendary strawberries (they're famed throughout the whole of Japan) live up to it's name. They are really sweet and the kind of sweetness I tasted was different from the sweetness of those USA strawberries that I normally consume. These are more sugary kind of sweet and they are also slightly mushy, unlike those from USA that taste firmer. I had three at one go and I was totally blown away.

甘くておいしい!! (Sweet and delicious!!)

I saw these Japanese words from the website and I found that they are the perfect description for these strawberries.

Now, I'm wishing that I would be able to have a constant supply of these さちのか strawberries. If only Singapore imports them too!
posted by An Economist Baker at 9:35 PM - 8 comments
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
My First Milk Loaf
I finally tried baking my own loaf of bread and it turned out much better than I had expected it to be. I used a recipe from Happy Home Baking (Thank you!) and many people have gotten fantastic results before. Therefore, I've been dying to try it out since a long time ago. I used a pullman tin (bread tin) I bought from Thailand last December and I love the squareness of my loaf. The squareness makes it look so much like professional commercial bread. Here's how it looks like:

I was supposed to roll the dough into a swiss-roll style but I'm still not so experienced in handling bread dough so this was the best I could come up with:

Nevertheless, the bread turned out really wonderful:

Look at the soft and fluffy texture:

It has been three days since I baked this loaf of bread and the texture still remains as soft. I spread it with strawberry jam and have it as breakfast. A real simple but yummy treat to perk me up in the morning. I can't wait to bake another loaf for the week!

posted by An Economist Baker at 11:16 AM - 3 comments
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Putu Bambu = Putu Piring?
I never really liked Malay kuehs when I was younger but I'm beginning to, under my mom's influence. She especially likes those that Bengawan Solo offers. Just the other day, I was at a Pasar Malam and these wooden bamboo sticks caught me immediately. And I'm quite certain I've not seen these in any Pasar Malam before because if so, I'd then have been very kaypoh and would have wanted to find out what they were selling. After googling online, I found out that this is an Indonesian kueh, made with rice flour and has a filling of gula melaka (brown sugar). After steaming, they are then being served with grated coconut all over.

I was really dying to taste it so I ordered 3 pieces ($1.70) and was told by the Malay lady that I might have to wait a little while because there were two aunties ahead of me. I was fine with it and took out my camera and started snapping away as I was very fascinated by how the kuehs actually get cooked in those bamboo casings.

The lady reaches out for a bamboo casing and starts to fill it up with rice flour and gula melaka:

After filling up the bamboo casing, she then looks for an empty "slot" on the steamer to place the casing to start steaming it. If you guys are wondering, there are holes right under the bamboo casings whereby heat comes through and steams the kuehs, hence getting them cooked.

After about 15 minutes, my Putu Bambus were finally ready. It was quite a long wait but time passed quickly as I was busy playing with my camera. And here they are, with grated coconut strewn all over them:

Look at the interior with the slightly oozy gula melaka:

I fell in love with this Indonesian kueh after the first bite. The lady was really generous with the gula melaka and I could taste it oozing out as I bite into it. The exterior was very moist and soft and it just melts in my mouth almost instantly.

I realised that it is somehow quite similar to the common Putu Piring we see in Singapore. Putu Piring is also made of rice flour with gula melaka as its filling. The only difference might be their shapes: Putu Bambu is cylindrical while Putu Piring is flatter. Anyway, after that day I've been wanting to consume more Putu Bambus but the Pasar Malam isn't there anymore. If anyone knows where I can get more of these yummy Putu Bambus, do let me know. :)

posted by An Economist Baker at 12:14 PM - 0 comments
About Me
Name: An Economist Baker
About Me: I'm a full-time Economics undergraduate and an avid baker who bakes as and when I feel like it. It is my dream to integrate these two important aspects of my life together, and I hope to have my own bakery cafe in the future.
See my profile...

Previous Posts
Daily Feeds
Local Feeds
Asian Feeds
International Feeds
Inspirational Feeds