BEAN PASTE AND SWEET RICE BALLS WITH PLUM WINE SAUCE AND GREEN TEA
  • 1 cup drained, cooked Beans
  • ½ cup super fine sugar
  • Pinch salt, plus ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups glutinous (sweet) white rice, washed and rinsed twice, then soaked overnight or for a minimum of 6 hours, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced orange peel, plus a few long shreds of peel, made with a zester tool
  • 1 cup Japanese plum wine
  • Powdered green tea (matu-cha)

In a 2-quart non-stick saucepan, mix the cooked beans with sugar and the pinch of salt and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Press the beans against the side of the pan to crush them, while boiling for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Wash the saucepan, add the water and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes, then let it stand for 15 minutes to cool. The rice should be very sticky, shiny and slightly warm. Stir in the 2 teaspoons minced orange peel.

Fill a bowl with water to use for dipping your hands. Dampen your hands and place 2 tablespoons of the rice in your palm. Flatten slightly and place ½ teaspoon of the cooked bean mixture in the center and form into a ball, enclosing the filling. As you complete each one, cover with plastic wrap until all the balls are formed. There should be about twenty.

To serve, place two filled rice balls on a small dessert plate. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the plum wine over each, allowing some to trickle on the plate. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of green tea over the surface and top with a few reserved shreds of orange peel.

* The rice for this dish is cooked in water rather than steamed over water so that the end results in a much more sticky soft texture, necessary for desserts.