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So It Is Red Bean And White Bean Paste

Yutuzu Wagashi

花蓮,在台灣東邊,靠近日本,早於日治時期便有日本人移居到此,又因為地理關係,使花蓮不像西北部其他大城市一樣現代化,久而久之,花蓮成為了大家心中的後花園,因為不容易到達,所以憧憬嚮往。現在到花蓮已經比較方便,我們從台南駕車出發花了6小時到達市中心,旅行的幸福感來自跟在地人的連結,而連結總在無意間發生。

走著走著,我們剛好遇上正在試營運的夕星菓子製作所, 「夕星」是日本古語,即金星,金星的亮度僅次於月亮,傍晚它會最早出現,在清晨時最晚下山,金星一直閃耀只是有時我們沒注意到它。喜歡藝術的友致,在台灣大學畢業後,便到日本修習和菓子,友致的手跟語調都很輕柔,看著她小心翼翼地捧著大福的畫面很美,像在美術館看畫,凝住了我的心神,讓第一次享受正式和菓子的我忘卻了緊張心情,回神時我調整了一下坐位,開啟了一場關於紅白豆泥的對談。

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「恭喜開店,試營運期間一切還好嗎?」我其實很好奇這店的建築,是一棟只有一層的日式房子,旁邊是營運了6、7年的咖啡店,看來老房子有被好好愛護著。

「一切還好,就有點累,今天小幫手臨時請假了。」我從像彎月般的眼神看到客氣、 靦腆,及有點稚嫩的懊惱。友致雙手捧著「蜜柑大福」到我的面前,蜜柑大福由求肥、白豆餡、日本温室蜜柑製成。「這是棉線,雙手往上拉,就可以把大福切開,請試試看。」就連裝棉線的包裝也是友致現場摺出來,紙材也特別挑選過。

友致跟我分享:「到了日本後,才重新認識豆類食品,在自己的認知當中,白豆餡好像比紅豆餡在高雅一點 ,和菓子裡白豆餡廣泛被使用,製作成各種菓子 ,其中上生菓子大概就是白豆餡的最高境界。」而對我來說,上生菓子就是造形很漂亮的甜點,全部都像藝術品精緻,但原來內涵藏著豐富的細節。「記得在製菓學校一年級時,從白生豆煮軟脫皮、靜置、脫水等等工程到最後製成的白豆餡,全是手工製作,二年級才使用大型機器,雖然手工製作白豆餡很累很耗時,但始終相信手工才是王道,再累再耗時也會堅持下去。」

「現在回到花蓮,單是製作白豆餡就需要花七小時, 1公斤的白豆最後會炒成 1.5 公斤使用,本來做甜點就很花功夫、時間,尤其是傳統日式和菓子。」和菓子其實可以包含所有日系傳統點心,銅鑼燒、糰子、麻糬⋯⋯但現在大多數人說起「甜點」卻第一時間想到洋式甜點,友致在東京和菓子專門學校修讀兩年,從求學的週末假期開始,持續在東京和菓子老店舖工作兩年,整整四年跟和菓子緊密相處後,回到花蓮創業:「我喜歡藝術,我認為和菓子跟藝術是連在一起的,我想珍惜能藉由學習更深入日本文化及日本藝術,有了使命感,我想讓台灣人更認識和菓子藝術。」

「在學校裡我雖然不是唯一的台灣學生,但我是唯一的左撇子,有段時間老師都要我課後留下來,練習使用右手分紅豆。「那時候的我真的很難過,痛苦的時候還會想是為了甚麼來學習和菓子?」我透過友致的眼神好像看到一個人在陌生環境求學受到挫折的無奈。「但是和菓子是很傳統的事,後來一直學習才發現有些刀功只可使用右手才能切出漂亮的花紋。」我們都不要太早氣餒,有些莫名奇妙的辛苦,有天都會自然地豁然:「啊!原來是因為這樣,才會有過去的經歷」。

「最中」是選用高雄十號紅玉鮮紅豆。「一直以來,我對豆餡不感到任何興趣,甚至看到有紅豆口味的食物會挑掉或選擇不吃,覺得太甜是其次,那種沙沙的口感實在很不討喜,但自己想都沒想到大學畢業後到了日本,讀製菓學校,還是和豆沙餡最相關的和菓子本科,更沒想到在四年後的今天,對於紅豆白豆,已經洗清了以前的印象。」我嗜甜,對紅豆沒半分抗拒,香港人說「起沙」才是紅豆的精髓,口味這件事千年萬年都沒法分辨好壞,我覺得紅豆教會我柔軟這件事。

「紅豆煮好了,還得跟紅豆洗澡,洗一次、兩次、三次,冷水沖過溫熱的紅豆又流進水槽,一批紅豆製作以及蜜漬需要兩天,炊煮出來的紅豆泥可使用三天。」基本上只要是營業日每日都不停煮紅豆,我看著冷水一直溫柔地沖刷紅豆,紅豆慢慢降溫變軟,我想人的心也是這樣,隨著年月時間過去,被沖刷後變得柔軟延綿,溫度、口感剛好,不會太硬吞嚥難下、又不會太軟承受不了。

吃著最中,喝一口茶,不知不覺那緊張的心情已經消散了,友致淡淡地說:「在和菓子的世界裡,餡就像樹木一樣,看起來平淡乏味,是基本的元素也能是襯托,可以平淡,可以特別,但好像不能沒有。」生活中的緊張、難過、期待、放輕鬆,就像和菓子,果然是內餡更為有趣,入秋來吃和菓子吧。

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In Hualien, east of Taiwan and leaning close to Japan, Japanese people have migrated there since as early as the Japanese colonial rule. Due to geographical reasons, it is not as modernised as other big cities in the northwest, and thus, over time, it has become the back garden in everyone’s mind. Because of its inaccessibility, one dreams and yearns for it all the more. Nowadays, it is relatively easier to visit Hualien. We took off from Tainan by car and arrived at the town centre in six hours. The happiness of travelling comes from making connections with those native to the area, and connections only ever occur unawares.

Walking along, we chanced upon Yutuzu Wagashi during its soft opening. Yutuzu is Old Japanese, meaning Venus. Second to the moon in brightness, Venus is the earliest to appear at dusk and the latest to set at dawn. Venus has always shone, we just don’t notice it sometimes. After graduating from the National Taiwan University, Lucinda, an art enthusiast, went to Japan to learn about wagashi. Lucinda’s hands and tone of voice are so dainty. The sight of her carefully holding up a daifuku was so beautiful. Like looking at a painting at a museum, my attention was transfixed, and it made me, a first timer in formal wagashi appreciation, forget about my anxiety. When I came to my senses, I adjusted my seat slightly, and opened up a conversation about red bean and white bean paste

“Congratulations on the opening, is everything okay during the trial run?” I was actually quite curious about the architecture of the shop, which is a one-story Japanese house. Next to it is a coffee shop that has been in business for 6 to 7 years. Looks like the old house has been well taken care of.

“All is well, just a bit tiring. Today our little helper took leave at the last minute.” From her crescent stare, I saw hospitality, timidity and youthful concern. With both hands, Lucinda held up a “tangerine daifuku” to my face. A tangerine daifuku is made of gyuhi, white bean paste and Japanese greenhouse tangerine. “Here is a cotton thread, pull upward with both hands and the daifuku is cut open, please give it a try.” Even the packet that contains the cotton thread was folded by Lucinda on the spot, the paper for which was specially chosen as well.

Lucinda shared with me, “Only after coming to Japan did I learn about bean products anew. From my own understanding, white bean paste seems more elegant than red bean paste. In wagashi, white bean paste is commonly used and made into all kinds of kashi, of which jo-namagashi is perhaps the pinnacle.” To me, jo-namagashi are beautifully designed confectioneries that are all as fine as art pieces, but within them contain such rich subtleties. “I remember during the first year of confectionery school, from cooking raw white beans until they are soft and their skins come off, resting them, dehydration, etc, down to the culmination of the white bean paste, all is done by hand. Only in the second year were large machines put into use. Making white bean paste by hand is exhausting and time-consuming, but at the end of the day, I believe that making by hand is the supreme approach. I will persist regardless of how exhausting or time-consuming it is.”

“Now that I’m back in Hualien, just the white bean paste takes seven hours to make. 1 kilogram of white bean will end up stir-fried into 1.5 kilograms for use. Essentially, making patisserie demands much effort and time, and this is especially so for traditional Japanese wagashi.” In fact, wagashi encompasses all traditional Japanese dim sums, such as dorayaki, dango, mochi… but nowadays, at the mention of “patisserie”, most people think of Western patisserie at once. For two years, Lucinda studied at a school in Tokyo that specialises in wagashi. Beginning from the weekend holidays during her schooling, she has worked at an old wagashi shop in Tokyo continuously for two years, and after living closely with wagashi for four whole years, she returned to Hualien to start a business, “I like art, and I think that wagashi and art are all tied together. I want to cherish and, through learning, delve deeper into Japanese culture and Japanese art. With this sense of mission, I want to let people in Taiwan learn more about the art of wagashi.”

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“At school, although I was not the only Taiwanese student, I was the only left-hander. For a time, the teacher would have me stay behind after class to practise sorting out red beans with my right hand. At that time, I was really disheartened, and during hard times, I would wonder, what was I learning about wagashi for?” Through Lucinda’s stare, I could almost see the helplessness of a person who had had to face failure in learning alone in an unfamiliar environment. “But wagashi is a very traditional thing. Later, as I continued to learn, I found that with some cutting techniques, only by using the right hand can you carve out beautiful patterns.” We should never despair too soon, for some inexplicable hardships do open up naturally someday, “Ah! So that was why, there were those past experiences.”

Monaka” makes use of fresh Kaohsiung Number Ten “Red Jade” red beans. “All along, I have had no interest in bean paste, to the extent that I would pick out or opt out of red bean-flavoured food. Finding it too sweet is one thing, but that sandy texture is really quite off-putting. Yet, I would never have thought that after graduating from university I would go to Japan, and study at a confectionery school, not to mention, in the wagashi department, which has the most to do with bean paste fillings. Nor would I have ever thought that today, four years later, my former impressions of red beans and white beans would all but clear away.” I have a sweet tooth and I have no resistance to red beans. Hong Kong people say that it is the “sandiness” that is really the essence of red beans. When it comes to tastes, give it a thousand or a million years and still there could be no settling for what is good or bad. I think that red beans taught me about flexibility.

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“When the red beans are cooked, we still have to give them a bath. Wash them once, twice, thrice, while cold water flows through the warm red beans and into the drain. Making a batch of red beans with honey pickles takes two days. Boiled red bean paste lasts for three days.” Basically, as long as it is a business day, red beans are cooked unceasingly every day. I looked on as the cold water washed the red beans gently, and they slowly cooled down and softened. I guess the heart of man is also like that. Through the passing of time, the heart, after much scrubbing and washing, softens, and its temperature and texture become just right, not too hard and difficult to swallow, but not too soft and frail as well.

As I ate a monaka and took a sip of tea, without realising it, my anxious feeling had already faded away. Lucinda said plainly, “In the world of wagashi, fillings are like trees. Seemingly banal and bland, they are basic elements, but they can also complement. They can be plain, they can be distinctive, but it seems that they cannot be done without.” In life, anxiety, suffering, anticipation and ease are like wagashi. Surely, the fillings are even more interesting. Come autumn, let’s have some wagashi.

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