Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Random Picture #158

One of the fads among people who cook, and I realize that sounds weird because it used to be the case that everyone cooked, is making your own marshmallows. While I am definitely a fan of cooking, and rarely eat out and even more rarely buy prepared food, I have never thought that marshmallows are something worth making by oneself. I'm sure that the homemade marshmallow is a superior product, but they're pretty sweet and I eat them so slowly that they'd be stale long before I could scarf them down. I bought a small bag of marshmallows about 6 months ago and half of it is still languishing in my cabinet.

I mention making ones own marshmallows because I wonder why Japanese marshmallows (of which three varieties are pictured above) always seemed weird in texture and slightly off in taste to me relative to American ones. That is not to say Japanese ones are bad, but rather they weren't what I expected based on how I grew up. They seemed firmer and to have an almost perfumey aftertaste. I'm guessing that it has a lot to do with the type of gelatin that is used. Japanese ones likely use agar agar, which is derived from seaweed, and American ones (unless they are vegan) are likely made with animal bone. 

At any rate, though I was not a fan of Japanese marshmallows, I did love the little daifuku-like concoctions like those above. In the U.S., we tend to coat the outside of marshmallows. In Japan, they tend to put something on the inside of them. These are usually small, tender pillows filled with beans jam, fruit-based jam, chocolate, or custard. The ones above from left to right have apple jam, custard pudding, and chocolate. I've reviewed some very awesome bean-jam-filled ones, and would strongly recommend those to anyone who runs across them. However, I'd still say avoid the plain ones, especially if your goal is toasting them. They just don't work well for that purpose.

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