Last fall, on a vacation to Japan, Steve and I visited Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms, learning how Japanese tea is produced, and getting educated on how to brew the leaves for optimum flavor. Of course, no travel is complete without souvenirs, so we purchased a few packages of sencha for drinking and some cooking grade matcha to experiment with at home.
If you’re like me, you’ve acquired a taste for bitter matcha, a flavor that’s a hot global food trend right now. I remember how I disliked it as a child, when it was whisked up to teach us about the rituals of the Japanese tea ceremony at our Japanese language school in Hawaii.
Appreciating bitter is an evolution of our palate, as we progress from mild flavors and grow to embrace foods that at one time seemed impossible to love—such as espresso, kale, arugula, endive and high-cacao dark chocolate.
At the Fancy Food Show this January, I found culinary matcha, of a lesser grade than the kind used for tea ceremonies, available from at least two purveyors. Then I found nearly a dozen brands on Amazon. So, feeling confident that culinary matcha is available to all and not just to those who venture to a Japanese tea farm, I began my experimentation for Special Fork.
My first step was to make matcha syrup. We had it over shaved ice in Japan, a refreshing treat from small mom and pop shops. In addition to shaved ice, the matcha syrup below would be great drizzled over ice cream or served with pancakes.
But I actually made the matcha syrup to accompany matcha crepes, my next experiment. These crepes turned out a beautiful green. You can make them ahead, put squares of waxed paper or parchment paper between the cooled crepes and freeze them in zip-top freezer bags; just defrost them in the packaging at room temperature. They’ll keep frozen for a few months. You can warm them in a skillet or microwave oven.
I chose the simplest presentation, serving the crepes with the matcha syrup and some whipped cream. If you prefer, you can fill them with some fruit preserves or some sweetened sliced fruit.
For a crepes making tutorial, check out Dave’s video.
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon culinary matcha
In a medium saucepan combine water and sugar; heat over medium heat, stirring, just until sugar has dissolved and liquid is clear, about 2 to 3 minutes. Raise heat to medium high and boil liquid about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is slightly thickened.
Remove from heat and whisk in matcha powder until thoroughly incorporated. (Matcha will clump at the start, but keep whisking.) Cool completely. Use syrup over pancakes, ice cream, shaved ice or matcha crepes.
Makes slightly under ½ cup syrup.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for cooking
3 tablespoons sugar, plus 4 teaspoons, divided
1 tablespoon culinary matcha
½ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla
Matcha Syrup (recipe above)
- In an electric blender add flour, milk, egg, 2 tablespoons of the butter, 3 tablespoons of the sugar and the matcha powder. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate crepe batter for one hour.
- Heat an 8- or 9-inch nonstick pan over medium high heat and add butter to coat the pan lightly. Spoon about 2 ½ tablespoons crepe batter into the pan and immediately, tilt pan, swirling batter to cover the entire bottom. Cook until batter is set and edges start to crisp, about 1 minute; flip crepe with an egg turner and cook about 1 minute more, until small brown spots form on the underside of the crepe.
- Remove crepe and repeat with remaining batter, adding additional butter to the pan, as needed. When all crepes are done, cover them with foil to keep warm while you make the whipped cream.
- Combine cream, the remaining 4 teaspoons sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
- To serve, fold crepes in quarters. Serve with whipped cream and matcha syrup.
Makes 10 to 12 crepes.
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