Monday, June 15, 2015

Onsen Manjū

Sometime during home assignment I’m sure I’m going to have insatiable cravings for manjū, so I may as well practice now… and I’m putting off things I actually need to do by working on the all-important “cleaning out the pantry” project. There were beans that needed eating, also brown sugar. We’re moving, after all.

Onsen manjū are red bean paste filled buns which traditionally were steamed using natural onsen (hot spring) steam. They have a lovely molasses-like flavor from the 黒糖 (black sugar) in the dough.

Here’s my first attempt. I might post updates later if I have any better attempts later on…

Onsen Manjū recipe

Ingredients, for 12 manjū:
  • ¾ teaspoon dry yeast
  • 115 mL warm water
  • 175g flour, plus more for kneading
  • 50g “black” sugar (黒糖 kokuto) or muscovado sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 7g melted butter
  • 270g tsubuan (sweet azuki bean paste), chilled
Ingredient notes: I used bread flour, but the dough turned out too… bread-like. I think next time I’ll use all purpose. You can get tsubuan at Asian supermarkets, but it’s easy to make with the recipe I linked. (You need the tsubuan to be pretty thick for manjū.)

Measurement note: yes, it’s metric. Get a kitchen scale. Baking will become so much easier. (I’m feeling rather lazy…)


Put yeast, warm water (~40 C) and a pinch of sugar in a cup, let stand in a warm place for about 10 minutes until it is frothy.

Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter and yeast mixture, stir until all the flour is incorporated. Turn out onto a well-floured board or mat and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth. (You may need a lot more flour.)

Let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour, until it has doubled in volume.

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and shape into balls. Let rest for about 10 minutes. (Don’t go longer, since the texture gets weird if you wait too long.)

Meanwhile, divide the tsubuan into 12 little balls.

Shape each dough ball into a disc, so that it’s thicker in the center than the edges. That way it can stretch without breaking.

Set a tsubuan ball in the center of the disc, wrap the dough around, and pinch shut. Roll around in the palms of your hands until smooth. This takes some practice… but once you get it, you will have awesome dumpling-filling techniques for all kinds of snacks!

Put each manjū on a square of parchment paper seam-side down, then arrange them in a steamer.
Place the steamer (with the lid on) over boiling water and steam the manjū for about 20 minutes. (I just put a bamboo steamer directly into a frying pan with about 1 cm of water in it.)

You can eat your manjū hot or at room temperature. They are nice with a cup of green tea!

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