Higashi is dry sweets used for thin tea
“dry sweets”- with a seasonal obvious design; dry, quick, finger food:
The higashi and tray may be asked about by the first guest.
Higashi are made for Usucha and served on a Higashibon. One, more usually two distinct types are served at Chaji during usucha.
Totally different from Omogashi in both material and meaning, higashi are eaten just before drinking usucha. Usually two types are served on a higashi-bon, of lacquer, wood, metal eg. silver or sahari, glass, basket, etc. Serving a kinin requires a takatsuki tray, with a folded sheet of hosho-gami plus several sets of higashi on top.
Higashi are more specific in form and shape than Omogashi, representative of a seasonal theme or motif. There are three ways to distinguish and /or serve the sweets:
in accord with Nature-moon is up, leaves down, but DO NOT try to make a picture
in accord / shin, gyo, so distinctions: higher formality level in upper R
if one can be stacked, the other should be piled; there MUST be a difference between the varieties chosen to allow for this variation in presentation.
So one can have all these 12 varietions: *can’t be helped because of design
Lower L gyo shin Upper R piled stacked stacked piled
L- so R- shin piled stacked stacked piled
L- shin R- gyo* piled stacked
L- so R- gyo piled stacked stacked piled
L- shin R- so* piled stacked
piled stacked stacked piled
Higashi types (not all are suitable for chaji); bold indicates popular use
Zaichu-mo(man)naka-crisp shell with an inside
Uchigashi -individually molded e.g., rakugan
Oshigashi -pressed in box, then cut into blocks
Yakimono e.g., senbei
Kakemono, e.g., kompeito- from Portuguese confeito; offered to Nobunaga in flask in 1569; now almost exclusively used for chabako
amemono- e.g., aru(ari)hei to -orig Portuguese “alfeloa”; sugar craft
Hannama- wide variety of “semi-raw” sweets
shoro- an bean paste covered with hard sugar coating
gyuhi- soft chewy mochi
kohaku – thin, hard sugar
suhama – roasted soy bean flour mixed with ame; can be molded into any shape
e.g., citrus fruit-kinkan, busshukan, buntan, yuzu, zabon; ichigo,
e.g., vegetables- nasu, kyuri, suika, togan, gobo, shiitake, yurine, udo, warabi
e.g., sea veggies-wakame, suizenji nori
e.g., shellfish- awabi, sazae, ebi, tako
Zatsugashi some of the other namban sweets like karinto, karumera, etc.
Shin: Uchimono, Oshimono – pressed powdered rice or beans and sugar, molded individually or pressed in bars and cut
Gyo: Sembei – wafer single or sandwiched; plain or colored; branded and/or glazed
So: arihei/ aruhei; kohakuto; suhama, everything else
Large, usually pressed sweets may be served alone, especially if they have a strong, shin feeling, eg. Choseiden
Small groups of similar sized but differently shaped or diferent types of sweets (3-5-7 varieties) such as fallen leaves and nuts, called fukiyose, seashells, kai tsukushi , or flowers, hana tsukushi may be served in appropriate utensils, eg. leaf baskets, shell baskets, flower baskets, coconuts, etc. at appropriate times fukiyose – Oct-Nov.; kaitsukushi – March; hanazukushi – April- May.
In the yobanashi and akatsuki, since zencha will be served as soon as the Guests are in the seki, if a sweet drink has not already been served instead of osayu, a single variety of higashi or perhaps hannamagashi- like yuzumochi, amanatto, makigaki (rolled persimmons) may be served in a suitable container (eg. coconut).
HIGASHI COMBINATIONS Sample arrangements from Kamiya Iori, by month / Alternate= A. (a. up L; b. lower R)
a. Wakamatsu (young pine) sembei (green)/ kadomatsu pine brand
chiyo musubi- red and white striped arihei tied in bow
eto (animal of year) senbei + Chiyo musubi
a. kitsune men- fox mask sembei folded into cone and branded with eyeholes
nejibo- twisted sticks of red and white striped arihei, horse racing whip?
Otafuku uchimono + red/whte twisted ribbons
a. warabi- suhama fern sprouts
chigo-zakura- red and white arihei circles
red and white uchimono kaitsukushi
a. haru-gasumi sembei
chocho- white arihei butterfly knots
hana tsukushi arihei and suhama leaves
a. kakitsubata- purple oshimono iris
water-light blue arihei waves
a. taki sembei-rectangles/glaze waterfall
aokaede- oshimono green maple
white, cream usu rakugan
a. uchiwa-senmen sembei/brands from Gion
sasanami-light blue arihei curly waves
taki senbei + nadeshiko uchimono
a. hatsu-gari-sembei/geese brand, folded 1/2 then 1/3
yugao- suhama gourd outline
nogiku- purple oshimono
kikyo or omodaka uchimono + arihei ryusui or yoshi senbei
a. usagi sembei- branded ears and eyes
Seitai or hatsugari senbei + suhama edamame
a. naruko sembei-house-shaped/brand design
suzume-yellow arihei twists
Inaho uchimono + suhama inaba
fukiyose- rolled suhama (?) yellow icho, red maple, arihei green pine needles, oshimono ginnan. oshimono matsukasa, arihei mushroom, oshimono kuri
fukiyose or momiji leaves + tsuta leaves
a. yuki- white oshimono snowflake
Korinmatsu- light green arihei pine branch rings / goma
red and white shikitou (Gengensai kon.)
Placement on the Higashibon depends upon design; upper right for higher , lower left for lower, unless there is a kao in lower left, in which case it is reversed to avoid the kao – upper L, lower R. NO exception is made just for design
This scheme (higher rank = higher placement) may be reversed when the designs on / of the higashi are more natural the other way, .i.e. flying geese in sky, grain on ground; or fish under water
Cooking with Sugar
There are 5 stages of sugar density in cooking syrup and the density is reflected or checked by a particular temperature the stages are
- Thread Stage – begins at 230 degrees F/110 C. – Makes a long thread when dropped in cold water.
- Soft Ball – 234 degrees F/112.22 C. – Forms a soft ball that doesn’t hold its shape. Cream candies, fudge, fondants are done at the soft ball stage.
- Firm Ball – 246 degrees F/118.89 C. – This ball will only flatten with pressure. Divinity and Caramels.
- Hard Ball – 250 degrees F/221.11 . – This ball will hold its shape when pressed. Taffy.
- Soft Crack – 270 degrees F/132.22 C. – Separates into bendable threads. Toffee and Butterscotch.
- Hard Crack – 300 degrees F. /148.89 C – Separates into hard threads. Brittles etc.
In order to accurately make Sugar based candies, the temperature is extremely important as different temperatures produce different end results.