Key Ingredient: Kinako
What it is: Made from toasted and ground soybeans, kinako (KEE-nah-koh) is a nutty-tasting, tan flour whose flavor is often compared to tahini or peanut butter.
How I Discovered It: I first tasted kinako on a traditional Japanese confection (wagashi) from Tokara in Phinney Ridge (6208 Phinney Ave. N; 206.784.0226). Chef Chika Tokara dusted the tops of her sticky, red bean mochi sweets with the powder, which dissolved on my tongue with an unusual, but enjoyable, dry finish. When I later mentioned my love for this new-to-me ingredient, my dear neighbor Yoshiko presented me with a bowl of homemade warabi-mochi—a jellied sweet made from bracken starch—topped with kinako.
How To Use It In The Kitchen: The Japanese use kinako as an ice cream topping, and also on mochi—both sweet, as in wagashi, and the toasted savory street snack. It’s also used in warabi-mochi, a dessert popular during the sweltering summer months in Japan. Kinako can be stirred into milk for a nutritious drink high in protein and B vitamins.
Where To Find It: Kinako comes in 5- to 7-ounce bags that sell for $3 to $5. In Seattle, you can find it at Uwajimaya (International District, 600 Fifth Ave. S; 206.624.6248; uwajimaya.com).
Originally published in August 2010