During my time in Tokyo last summer, I knew I definitely had to get back to Harajuku.
I had been there once before, many years ago, and I remembered it just being so seriously funky-cool to my teenage self.
When I went back, though, it wasn’t nearly as interesting — all the shops sold clothes that weren’t really my taste, it wasn’t Sunday so the streets weren’t bustling, and I didn’t have a whole lot of money to spend on other fancy digs or eats anyways.
To be honest, I was kind of bored in Harajuku.
As an adult, it seemed different somehow.
But on the other side of the Harajuku train station…
There was a gorgeous, wooded road that lead to a shinto shrine. Since I was in no hurry, I wandered along one of the back paths and soon found myself standing in the shrine, in front of boards full of ema, Japanese prayer tablets.
It was amazing to see and read the ema — to know that people from all over the world had passed by and left messages in every language imaginable!
And, just like the way in which people flow in and through and out of Japan, Japanese people sometimes move to other parts of the world and settle abroad.
These “Japanese away from home” are collectively known as nikkei and this goma (sesame) cookie recipe comes from a cookbook written by the Tonari Gumi nikkei community of Vancouver.
Goma Cookies • ゴマクッキース
*adapted from Home Away From Home
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup superfine/castor sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 & 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup black & white sesame seeds
Sift the flour and baking powder together. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oils and vanilla extract. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in the sugar. Whisk for 3 minutes before beating in the egg.
Add the sifted flour and baking powder in small increments, stirring with a spatula until all the flour is will incorporated.
Fold in sesame seeds and mix to distribute evenly.
Shape the dough into a disk, wrap tightly in clingfilm, and freeze overnight.
Once ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Prepare the cookies in one of two ways…
1. Roll the cookie dough out to 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick. Use a cookie cutter to press out shapes. Carefully transfer the cookie cut dough to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes before baking. Re-freeze and re-roll scraps as needed.
2. Pinch off tablespoon-sized bits of the dough and roll into balls. Flatten each dough ball onto a cookie sheet to about 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick. Refrigerate for 10 minutes before baking.
Bake for 10 ~ 12 minutes, or until the bottom edges are well browned.
So, in case any of you are wondering where I got the awesome cherry blossom cookie cutter from, you can get one right here.
Anyways, these cookies are barely-sweet and very crispy — they’re almost more like biscuits, and keep well in the freezer for long after they’re made.
It’s little taste of Japanese-Canadian food culture. Yum!