VIDEO: Okinawa Kitchen: Sanguwachi Guwashi a great beach treat

Photos by Shoji Kudaka
Photos by Shoji Kudaka

VIDEO: Okinawa Kitchen: Sanguwachi Guwashi a great beach treat

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

Much like Angadi how is dubbed the “Okinawan doughnut,” “Sanguwachi Guwashi (sweets of March)” should be called the “Okinawan financier” in my opinion. This Okinawan sweet has a rectangular shape and a smooth, sweet taste just like a French madeleine.

Searching for a perfect beach treat, I found this simple Okinawan recipe to try. Sanguwachi Guwashi has a close tie to the Okinawan tradition of beach picnics and, better yet, it only requires ingredients you might already have in your pantry like flour, sugar, and oil.

 March 3 of the lunar calendar in Okinawa is Hamauri, a day to pray for girls’ health as well as one where women and girls visit the beach to be blessed by the seawater. Back in the day, men were not part of this tradition, but today it is more of a seasonal family event to celebrate the arrival of spring.

One thing definitely hasn’t changed: the picnic food and treats enjoyed at a refreshing beach picnic.

Much like other Okinawan traditions, locals would pack bento meals in stacked boxes called “jyuubako” or “ujyuu.” In the case of Hamauri, four bento boxes are often stacked under the name “Sanguwachi ujyuu (bento boxes of March).”

According to Kayoko Matsumoto, an expert on Okinawan cuisine, side dishes such as fish tempura and burdock rolled with meat are usually what go in the top box. In the second level, red rice balls. The third and fourth boxes are for Sanguwachi Guwashi and “Fuuchi-muchi,” which is rice cake mixed with artemisia herb.

If you have tried Andagi doughnuts, you’ll find many similarities with Sanguwachi Guwashi because both sweets share similar ingredients and cooking methods.

Still, there are some differences. First, Saguwachi Guwashi is rectangular with two or three vertical slits, while Andagi is round shape. Second, Sanguwachi Guwashi is thought to be crispier as it is thinner than the Okinawan doughnut.

Though I knew about the difference between the two sweet treats, the Sanguwachi Guwashi I made looked more like Andagi. Molding the dough was a challenge. I also added too much baking powder, making each piece thicker than the recipe called for. Nevertheless, my first try at Sanguwachi Guwashi did render a lightly sweet, slightly crispier cake than Andagi.

This year, March 3 of the lunar calendar falls on April 22. With about two months to go before the Hamauri day, I’m thinking about taking another shot at the recipe. Give it a try yourself, it’s sure to make your beach picnic sweeter!

 Material (for 8 pieces)

  • Egg (1 piece)
  • Sugar (70g)
  • Oil (10cc)
  • Flour (140g)
  • Baking powder (2g)
  • Flour to be sprinkled on the dough and a cooking board (appropriate amount)
  • Oil to fry the dough (appropriate amount)

Recipe (Based upon recipe by Kae Izena, a cooking expert)

1. Sieve flour (140g) and baking powder (2g) together.

2. Put a beaten egg in a bowl and stir it with sugar (70g). Be careful not to let the mixture bubble.

3. Put the mixture of flour and baking powder in the bowl of egg and sugar. Stir until ingredients are about 80 percent combined. Add oil (10cc) and mix again until the dough becomes hard (and soft) enough to be slit with a knife.

4. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and let it cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

5. Sprinkle flour on a cooking board. Stretch the dough with a rolling pin or hands into a rectangular shape of 7 cm in width and 1 cm in thickness. Slice the dough into pieces 3.5 cm in length. Create two or three slits on each of them.

6. Heat oil in a frying pan to 170℃ (338℉). Place pieces of dough in the oil with slits facing up. Flip once the pieces float up in the oil. Fry until golden brown. Take the pieces out of the pan after they crack open with the slits and their inner parts are heated through.

7. Let excess oil strain from cakes on paper towels.

8. Enjoy warm or cool at your picnic.

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