Ingredients for 5 Servings
Sweet potatoes (さつまいも / Satsuma imo) 200 g
(Net weight after cutting and skinning)
Gardenia (くちなし / Kuchinashi) 1
Water (水 / Mizu) 3 tbsp
Hon mirin (本みりん / Hon mirin) 3 tbsp
Sugar (砂糖 / Satōh) 3 tbsp
Salt (塩 / Shio) Pinch
Matcha (抹茶 / Matcha) 1/2 tsp
How to Make
1. Cut the sweet potatoes into rounds about 2 cm thick. Skin each piece, taking off the outer 2 mm or so, and then place the pieces in a bowl of water to remove excess starch.
2. Cut the gardenia in half and put both halves into a tea bag (This is a bag [called a “tea pakku” in Japanese] into which the user places tea for boiling; not a bag prefilled with tea.) Place the sweet potato rounds and tea bag into a medium-size pot with enough water to cover the sweet potatoes. Boil until you can easily press a bamboo skewer through the sweet potato rounds, then turn off the heat and drain off the water. Press each of the sweet potato rounds through a sieve to produce a smooth paste.
3. Add the water (3 tbsp), mirin, sugar, and salt to a small pot. Bring the contents to a boil then reduce to low heat and add the sweet potato paste and mix until the paste begins to glisten. Now you have kinton paste.
4. Divide the kinton paste into two equal portions. Add the matcha to one portion and mix until the matcha is evenly incorporated into the kinton paste.
5. Prepare five pieces of plastic wrap, each large enough to enclose one-fifth of both the golden and green kinton pastes. Place a bit of the golden and green kinton pastes on a piece of wrap and then enclose it and twist the edges of the wrap together to make something akin to a purse. Do this a total of five times.
Significance of Kinton as an Osechi Dish
Kinton is written with the Chinese characters金団. 金 (kin) means gold, 団 (ton) refers to a group – often of people, but this character is also used in the word “futon” (布団), which might literally be interpreted as cloth that has been grouped. Kinton (金団) refers more specifically to gold dumplings (金の団子 kin no dango) or a golden quilt (金の布団 kin no futon). And these in turn are metaphors for gold nuggets or ingots (金塊 kinkai), or the gold coins (flat ovals) used from around 1600 to 1867 in Japan. Kinton, therefore, symbolizes financial good fortune (金運 kin-un) or good luck in competition (勝負運 shōbu-un).