August 19: How to make "Yaseuma"  by Mie

Today, our Group of Friend Oita branch welcomed nine guests from Ichikawa branch, Chiba prefecture. We have already prepared for today's exchange. The guests arrived before noon at Oita airport. They first visited Bamboo Museum in Beppu city and arrived at Oita after the noon. We first exchanged greeting and took lunch together. The number of our member was 12.
Today's menu was: Ohmura sushi, boiled vegetable - Shiitake mushroom, a special product of Oita, clear soup of Eso fish caught in Saganoseki port, vegetable pickling salted in rice-bran paste, Yaseuma cake, and compote.
   

Ohmura sushi is a kind of "pressed-sushi", which is shaped in a big wooden frame like this (left) that serves for 12 dishes. Fried egg is finely sliced into thin threads and plentifully topped on the sushi. Additional green buds of a fragrant tree were put on it as a decoration. The sushi contains unusual ingredients such as sliced burdock, fine strips of radish, and salmon flakes.
On the small dish in the right picture is Yaseuma, a special product of Oita. Why is it called "Yaseuma", or "thin horse?" An old tale says: "In a feudal premise, a baby of the lord felt hungry and asked the baby sitter nicknamed "thin" to prepare something to eat, saying "Uma, uma." The word "uma" means "food" in baby talk, and the pronunciation of "uma" is the same as "horse" in Japanese.
Yaseuma won popularity by the guests who said it was "chewy and delicious." The chewy property comes from by using "special local flour" of Oita. If you can't get the local flour, you can use strong flour instead.
A pinch of salt is added to the special local flour before kneading to make the dough with the softness of earlobe. As the flour is not bleached, the color is grayish a little. The dough is left for ripening for 30 minutes under a wet dishcloth.
   

A lump of dough is taken from the original mass and rounded using palms (left), then smaller fragment is taken from it (right.)
   

The fragment is then rolled into smaller conical dough on the palm (left.) The conical dough is laid down on a wet dishcloth neatly. Another wet dishcloth covers the row of dough for further ten minutes maturing.
During the ripening, soybean flour is prepared. The amount of sugar depends upon preferences, but I put the same amount of sugar as the soybean flour this time and a pinch of salt. The fragrance of the mixture filled the room.
   

The ripened dough is again rolled out a little thin and longer, and again ripened another ten minutes. Plenty of boiling water will be prepared during the process.
Now the dough will be stretched. Grasp the both ends of the dough and pull it at a time. The dough gets longer surprisingly. When we make Dango-soup, another special product of Oita, the elongated dough is cut apart longitudinally to make the noodle. The dough is then boiled. Today, as we prepare for Yaseuma, the dough is not elongated so long, about 30 centimeters or so.
   

The rolled-out fragments are then put into the boiling water from one side of the pan. The fragments will soon turn to translucent and come up to the surface. They will be skimmed and spread on a bamboo sieve for cooling. The said soybean flour is sprayed on it. The flake is decorated beautifully on the dish for serve. Additional seasoned soybean flour can be added upon your preference. Here, Yaseuma is ready for taste. Please try it without fail.
The guests came down all the way to remote Oita from Ichikawa. Thanks to them, we presented hand-made dishcloths as the souvenir. All of Oita members sketched wild flowers on them. Although they are not so good, we hope the guests will remember the nature of Oita by looking at them.
Now the time of departure. Oita members see the guests off.
The guests from Ichikawa branch. We are learning in the female groups to think about better homes as the building blocks for better society by studying together on food, clothing, shelter, children, and household account, with the basic concept of freedom, love, and cooperation. As we stand on the same basis, we could exchange many valuable opinions even though in the first meeting. I strongly felt that we should encourage each other from now on.

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