It’s funny how whenever people visit Singapore and ask for places to visit, I always say that the zoo is a must for every visit(!) and that the aquarium is good to visit just the one time. And yet, I’ve now been to the aquarium about 4 times and I have to admit that it’s actually pretty awesome.
Granted, the moray eels are horrors to look at – at least to me, but the jelly fish and the brightly coloured tropical fish are hypnotic.
And for sure we cannot forget my ultimate favourite fish. Forgive me for I do not know what it’s called. It might be a boxfish but no matter – a fish by any other name will look just as adorable with its round body, pouty lips, and its need to wriggle its tail extra hard to keep balanced while it swims. Ok, the last bit about needing to balance I kind of made up.
I find the world of water both fascinating and frightening at the same time. To know that as much as researchers have accumulated such a vast knowledge of the sea and its creatures over years and years of detailed study, there is probably still very much more we have yet to learn.
What will we find if we were to go to the deepest part of the ocean? How many more creatures are there left to be discovered? What kinds of dangers lurk beneath where man has gone before?
Anyway, it was another fun-filled afternoon with Naima and F as we slowly went around the aquarium gazing at the myriad of different fish. Immersing ourselves into the underwater world just for those few hours also reminded me that oftentimes, we forget that this world has so much more to reveal to us if we only just opened our eyes to explore it.
So, yesterday, I decided that I would do just that – explore! I decided to explore the more unique flavours of Japan in my baking, away from the more commonly used Matcha. Now, I love Matcha and I think it works amazing with almost everything, but recently, I have been feeling the pull to work more with Kinako – a roasted soy flour that the Japanese frequently use as a topping for mochi. It has this beautiful toasty, nutty aroma that evoked within me this sense of comfort and familiarity which is strange considering I’ve never used it before.
I read online that kinako is quite versatile and can be used in baking cakes, cookies and bread. I’m not a strong bread baker so I decided to play it safe and go for Kinako Cookies.
These were more like shortbread cookies, and to amp it up a little, I thought to swirl some earthy bitterness in with Black Sesame Paste. The cookies turned out nice and short, and the dough was a snap to make. I liked that the Kinako and Black Sesame married well together, neither superceding each other in flavour.
Kinako Black Sesame Cookies
(Yields 12 – 0.75″x2″ Bars)
30g butter, softened
20g brown sugar
30g kinako powder
20g black sesame paste
1. Preheat oven to 175 deg C.
2. Cream butter with sugar.
3. Sift flour, kinako powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
4. Add cream into butter mixture and blend.
5. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just incorporated.
6. Add black sesame paste and swirl it in gently. You might want to hand-knead the dough gently for it to come together.
7. Roll dough out to a thickness of 0.5cm and cut to size. You can also choose to use cookie cutters to stamp out other designs.
8. Place onto lined baking sheet and chill for 20min.
9. Bake for 10min, rotating the tray halfway through.
10. Let cool for 10min on the tray then remove to finishing cooling on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, although you’ll definitely polish them off before then!
I love how Asian and Western ingredients have come together especially in the last few years. It reminds me that the world is evolving into a ginormous melting pot, not just within countries, but amongst countries and across cultures. I have always believed that food is one of the best ways to explore a country’s culture, and incorporating the flavours of another country into our foods and desserts is surely a powerful testament to how we are becoming more accepting of the unfamiliar, and more brave towards exploring the exotic.