Wagashi: Angel Hair Keiran Somen (Fios de Ovos)

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Do Not Miss

Wagashi: Kyoto Tsuruya Keiran Somen 京都鶴屋 鶏卵素麺 鶴寿庵

Wagashi: Kyoto Tsuruya Keiran Somen 京都鶴屋 鶏卵素麺 鶴寿庵 fios de ovos
For this unusual wagashi just two ingredients; sugar and egg yolk, and some ancient Portuguese technique are needed to make Keiran Somen, literally ‘chicken egg angel hair noodles’.

Barbarian Confection: Fios de Ovos

Tsuruya is a Kyoto wagashi shinise that has a new shop in the Nishiki Market called Tsurujuan. I had heard about this confection from Miwa but I had never seen it. The moment I laid eyes on it I reached for my wallet.

The inventiveness of wagashi never ceases to amaze, keiran somen, like kasutera and kompeito, is one of those ‘not quite’ Japanese confections that is inspired by fios de ovos, or ‘angel hair’ that made its way to Japan in the 1600′s from Portugal. The ingredient list is short; just sugar and egg yolk. The taste and texture is out of this world rich and luxurious!

Keiran Somen – Package
Wagashi: Kyoto Tsuruya Keiran Somen 京都鶴屋 鶏卵素麺 鶴寿庵 fios de ovos

Keiran Somen – Package Unwrapped
Wagashi: Kyoto Tsuruya Keiran Somen 京都鶴屋 鶏卵素麺 鶴寿庵 fios de ovos

Keiran Somen
Wagashi: Kyoto Tsuruya Keiran Somen 京都鶴屋 鶏卵素麺 鶴寿庵 fios de ovos
Keiran somen is based on the Portuguese dish fios de ovos or ‘angel hair’.

How to Make: A Pound of Sugar, A Pound of Egg Yolk

A few years ago I learned why pound cake is called pound cake; a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of flour. Very simple, very rich. When I first tasted Tsuruya’s keiran somen, the first thing that came to mind was, a pound of sugar, a pound of egg yolk.

Kyoto Tsuruya won’t say how they make their keiran somen, however they do say that it is made the ‘traditional way’. There are a small number of wagashi companies in Japan that make keiran somen. Rock sugar is melted over heat in a pan and into this well stirred egg yolk is poured from a container with multiple narrow spouts. The cooked threads of egg yolk are gathered up into a loop, just like yarn. It is then twisted tight and cut into bite sized pieces.

Keiran Somen
Wagashi: Kyoto Tsuruya Keiran Somen 京都鶴屋 鶏卵素麺 鶴寿庵 fios de ovos

Keiran Somen
Wagashi: Kyoto Tsuruya Keiran Somen 京都鶴屋 鶏卵素麺 鶴寿庵 fios de ovos

Keiran Somen Pulled Apart
Wagashi: Kyoto Tsuruya Keiran Somen 京都鶴屋 鶏卵素麺 鶴寿庵 fios de ovos
Gently untwisting will separate the ‘noodles’.

Keiran Somen – detail
Wagashi: Kyoto Tsuruya Keiran Somen 京都鶴屋 鶏卵素麺 鶴寿庵 fios de ovos

Ingredient List: Sugar and Egg
Wagashi: Kyoto Tsuruya Keiran Somen 京都鶴屋 鶏卵素麺 鶴寿庵 fios de ovos
(From the second line) 砂糖 sugar, 鶏卵 chicken egg

10 Responses to “Wagashi: Angel Hair Keiran Somen (Fios de Ovos)”

  1. Arun says:

    Wow, it looks like it has a nice texture, and looks quite like an Indian sweet! How did it taste?

  2. Mora says:

    Great photos and information. And the plate used for display [Keiran Somen - detail] is gorgeous. More pottery and food photo combos, please!

  3. Craig says:

    Very interesting to see this in Japan. The Portuguese brought this dessert to Thailand as well, where it to be found at every market– one of the country’s most popular desserts. The egg mixture is also boiled in syrup to take on other shapes besides threads. See below for a recipe and additional info:

    http://www.khiewchanta.com/archives/desserts/egg-yolk-kanom-kanoom-foy-tong-1.html
    and
    http://www.bangkokpost.com/education/desserts.htm

  4. Peko-P says:

    Hello Arun, Like an Indian sweet, really? It tasted like egg yolk with a lot sugar. It really reminded me of pound cake; just a few ingredients and full-on of that flavor.

    Hi Mora, OK, more pottery and food, coming right up! Thank you for the input.

    Hello Craig, Thanks for that link! I had not realized that. Flavoring it with rose water or vanilla essence sounds really excellent! As I had expected, this is a dish that really requires some technique.

  5. Looks great! I’ve had the Thai version before but had no idea that it originated in Portugal.

  6. Arlinda Frota says:

    Very interesting, really, to see this in Japan! I truly agree! I knew how it came to Thailand and then to Cambodja. Yes, it is a portuguese dessert for centuries ever. And it is delicious. Try it as garnishing main course dishes, mainly roasted meat, pork, turky and duck. Bon appétit! Don’t forget a drop of Porto wine, special reserve, indeed!!!

  7. Hi- can you help me find egg threads as listed in your site- I am trying to make a marta rocha cake and cant seem to find them in Brazilian stores?
    Please help.
    Thanks.
    Krystina

  8. [...] there, which so far as I can see include Spanish huevo hilado, Portuguese fios de ovos, Japanese keiran somen and Cambodian / Khmer vawee – maybe more out there [...]

  9. Nils von Barth says:

    Thanks for the tip!

    The fios are tasty enough, though I’m not wild about them – they’re rather sweet and one-dimensional, though admittedly rich and delicious in their way (to each their own). That said, the small box is pretty inexpensive and tasty (about 500 yen for 4 bite-size pieces – fun to share! …and keeps for 2 weeks), so if you’re there, I’d recommend picking one up as a snack for later. (There are bigger boxes too.)

    For me they are particularly interesting as a change from the ubiquitous castella – this is the only place I’ve seen keiran sōmen. I’m not familiar enough with traditional fios to compare them to these; the mochi mochi (springy spongy) texture certainly fits Japanese tastes.

    I would recommend the shop (Tsuruya) generally though – it’s a rather calm, quiet, and open space in the crowded bustle of Nishiki market, and their matcha and mizu yōkan are both tasty and refreshing, particularly in the hot summer (the mizu yōkan are in a pool of water, adding extra chilling and visual style). Admittedly, fios are more suited for mid-winter. The rest of their offerings are standard (quality) wagashi – it’s a well-established shop (I’ve been served their sweets at events).

    Homepage:
    http://www.turuya.co.jp/

    Tsuruya’s flagship shop *is* worth a visit, and rates a *must see* for wagashi fans – a pastry chef makes wagashi before your very eyes! (And then you get to eat them.)

    Flagship shop:
    http://www.turuya.co.jp/kyoto/index.html

    Wagashi-before-your-eyes:
    http://www.turuya.co.jp/kyoto/saryo.html

    The flagship shop is in Nishijin (great traditional neighborhood, full of old machiya buildings), on Imadegawa just west of Horikawa.

    Map:
    http://www.turuya.co.jp/kyoto/map.html

  10. Nils von Barth says:

    Oops, sorry – these are actually two unrelated shops both called Tsuruya (it’s a popular name).
    The one in Nishiki is called Kyoto Tsuruya (just like it says above), and its website is:
    http://www.kyototsuruya.co.jp/
    In addition to the Nishiki market location, it has a shop south of Shijō:
    http://www.kyototsuruya.co.jp/06annai.html

    The one I mentioned above (and recommend) is 鶴屋吉信 (Tsuruya Yoshinobu).

    Tsuru Yoshinobu is mentioned in one other post:
    Wagashi: ‘Kyobeni’ D.I.Y. Azuki and Monaka
    http://kyotofoodie.com/kyobeni-azuki-monaka/

    Sorry for the confusion – for the record, Kyoto Tsuruya is fine to drop into in Nishiki market, while Tsuruya Yoshinobu is highly recommend (wagashi made before your eyes) and in Nishijin.

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