The yellow maple leaves like honey, red or orange like the color of sunshine are characteristic of autumn in Japan. Everywhere, from parks, train stations, lakeside … everywhere, you can see yellow leaves, brilliant red leaves.
Autumn is also an opportunity for Japanese people to drink tea, watch the red leaves fallen and eat fried maple leaf cake which is called Tempura Momiji. This dish has been handed down for thousands of years and has become an indispensable snack in the fall in the land of cherry blossoms.
Not all maple leaves are used in baking. To make this unique tempura, Japanese choose large yellow leaves, soft shaft, beautiful shape, not torn, planted in a separate area. Leaves are picked when they are most in full bloom.
At first glance, almost everyone thinks that maple leaves just need to be breaded and fried in oil, but if you think so, you are completely wrong. Because to make this crispy maple leaf, the preparation process takes a year.
First, people will go up the mountain to pick up the fallen maple leaves from the branches. The place to pick up the maple leaves is also carefully selected so that the maple leaves are always very clean. In addition, not all maple leaves are edible, the Japanese do not eat red maple leaves, but only eat yellow maple leaves because the yellow maple leaves have softer veins and are easier to eat.
In particular, the yellow maple leaves when marinated with salt are not discolored, so they will look better after deep-frying.
After picking up the required amount of leaves, Japanese soaked the leaves with salt in large barrels and kept like that until a year later. Using this way of salting for a long time can help the leaves become softer, lose their characteristic pungent flavor and especially the flavor of the leaves after frying is also better.
A year later, when the leaves were salted enough, they took the leaves out of the barrel, cut the stalks off and used water to wash it to remove the salt remaining on the leaves. After that, people will bring the leaves dipped in flour to have sugar, sesame seeds and then put in fried oil.
Sharing the cooking process, Ms. Setsuko Hisakuni, who has 50 years of experience in frying maple leaves, said that it looks simple, but preparing maple leaves is extremely time consuming. Because you have to pick up each leaf, choose each leaf to be beautiful, salt it, then wash it and then do it one by one. However, these steps are repeated gently and slowly, so they bring a very relaxed and peaceful feeling. Especially, whenever someone give nice compliments that her maple leaves are fried delicious, she feels very happy.
After being fried into gold, maple leaves will have the crispness with the sweetness of sugar, the salty taste of the salt absorbed inside the leaves is very comfortable, so this dish has long been a specialty that many people love, not only the local people but also tourists.