What is better than to celebrate the spring season by viewing flowers? Not only we can admire the flowers, but we can also preserve them to cherish the taste of the season like these Cherry Blossom Rice Balls. These rice balls are simple food that is perfect for breakfast, bento lunch box, or even as a snack.
About Cherry Blossom
Cherry blossom or sakura is a special flower in Japan. In fact, the most favorite travel season in Japan is during early spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming. Why all this excitement over cherry blossoms? Well, the pink and white petal clusters are an absolutely beautiful sight to behold. But also there is more to their splendor than meets the eye.
The tree holds a very prominent position in Japanese position, making the country’s national flower a cultural icon revered around the world not just for its overwhelming beauty, but for its enduring expression of life, death, and renewal. The reason is that cherry blossoms stay in bloom for barely two weeks or sometimes less. Therefore, people only have a brief time to enjoy the trees in full bloom. Every place gets crowded with people doing Hanami or cherry blossom viewing during the season, which involves enjoying a picnic under the trees with snacks and drinks. Interesting right?
About Salt Pickled Cherry Blossoms
Japanese people love cherry blossoms so much. Not only they eagerly look forward to the short flowering season each spring, but they also pickle them in salt and vinegar to preserve them longer. The tradition has gone on since centuries ago. Since then, the pickled cherry blossoms are usually used for occasions outside the season.
To make salt pickled cherry blossoms, tender young buds are soaked in ume plum vinegar for several days before being dried completely. Then, they are packed in jars or packages with salt. I have a close-up picture of some cherry blossoms. As you can see, they are fully covered in salt granules.
You can buy salt pickled cherry blossoms at pickle-specialized stores in Japan. For those living outside of Japan, I do not think your local Japanese grocery store might have them. So, I suggest getting them online on the link I have provided.
About Cherry Blossom Rice Balls
These salted cherry blossoms are originally used to make Cherry Blossom Tea, which is used on special occasions, such as weddings. Now, it has found its way into many more Japanese and Western recipes. As you can see, rice ball is obviously one of the most popular foods in Japan. The only limit to what can go into a rice ball seems to be imagination. This Cherry Blossom Rice Balls recipe is also not an exception.
Cherry Blossom Rice Balls are basically plain white rice balls and topped with salt pickled cherry blossom preserve. Take freshly-cooked rice, and mold it with both hands into cylinders while it is still warm. Then, press the salt pickled cherry blossom on top lightly until they stick together. Very simple indeed, but the recipe bursts with salty flavor with a subtle floral accent from the preserved flower. Do not forget to wet your hands slightly and sprinkle your palms with a little salt each time you mold a rice ball to season it.
More Rice Ball Recipes
While you are here, don’t forget to check out these rice ball recipes!
More Cherry Blossom Recipes
Check out also these cherry blossom recipes!