Mochi is a famous wagashi everyone outside of Japan knows of. I’m sure many of you have seen (either in video or in real life) how Japanese makes mochi by having one person pounding the dough with a heavy mallet and the other person folding it, in perfect synchrony like clockwork.
I had the opportunity to see this for real at Boso No Mura, an interactive museum in Narita.
Today this traditional mochi pounding method is more like stunt/ performance and most places have alternative ways to make mochi I believe. However, the art is still preserved in some places like the famous shop in Nara which I regret not going to despite having been to Nara twice (because it slipped my mind).
Anyway, I love mochi and would willingly pay $3 for a piece bought in stores, just because I love the chewy texture and it looks impossible to make it myself. When looking for mochi in Japan itself, you may not actually find these glutinous rice balls under the name of “mochi”. Instead, you’ll probably find it named as “Daifuku”, which means great luck. Daifuku with strawberry and red bean filling is one of the most common varieties around. The combination of tart strawberry, sweet anko and chewy skin make this mochi a sure win recipe.
I’m glad that I got curious about it again recently, because only now did I discover how easy it is to make Daifuku at home! No pounding involved, but still delicious.
- 100g glutinous rice flour (shiratamako, mochiko or generic glutinous rice flour)
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 150ml water
- 150g – 200g redbean paste
- 6 – 8 strawberries
- Katakuriko (potato starch) for dusting
- Big microwavable bowl
- Microwave oven
- Large tray/dish
- Parchment paper
- Pastry brush
- Wash, dry and cut away the top of the strawberries with a knife.
- Divide your red bean paste and roll it into balls.
- Flatten each ball and wrap strawberries thoroughly and generously. If more red bean is needed, add accordingly. Shape the red bean wrapped strawberries neatly and set aside. The tip of the strawberry can be slightly poking through uncovered.
- In a microwavable bowl, mix shitatamako and sugar. Slowly add in the water while mixing. You will get a thick white, floury paste.
- Cover the bowl loosely with microwave wrap and microwave at medium for 1 minute. Remove and check that mochi is semi cooked (turning translucent). Mix it up and microwave at medium again for 30 seconds. Check the progress and repeat 2 or 3 more times until entire mixture turns translucent and there are no opaque patches.
- Line a big tray (approx 50cm or more in length) or flat dish with parchment paper and dust with starch. Scoop up all mochi from bowl with a spoon or spatula and place it on the starch lined tray. Coat a scraper or another spatula with flour and pat the mochi to flatten.
- Divide mochi into 6 – 8 (depending on how many you are making) pieces with scraper or spatula.
- When mochi is cool enough to touch, place one piece on your hand and flatten it (if hands sticks to mochi, dust your hands with starch). Place anko-strawberry tip down on the mochi skin and proceed to wrap it all around while stretching it if necessary in the process. Cover up the anko-strawberry fully and twist the ends to seal. The seam should be at the bottom, where the flat side of strawberry is. Put aside and let it sit upright. Brush off excess starch with pastry brush.
- Repeat for every piece. Consume on same day at room temperature, or refrigerate and consume the next day at room temperature.
Things to note
- I used shiratamako from Daiso and it worked perfectly for this. I can’t find mochiko in Singapore. For information about where to get the ingredients, check out my post about Wagashi ingredients in Singapore.
- I used Korean strawberries which comes in irregular sizes, so the number you make will depend on how big your strawberries are.
- It is important to wrap it with tip down first, so that the Daifuku can sit upright and when you cut it in half, the strawberry is in place. I made this mistake the first time.
- Consume at room temperature but do not store at room temperature for too long, because strawberries can go bad. Allow it to settle to room temperature before consuming for best texture of the mochi skin.
- You can use koshian (smooth red bean paste) or tsubuan (coarse red bean paste) for the filling. Alternatively, you can try using Chinese style red bean filling which is common in Singapore for tau sar pau.
- I tried making Ichigo Daifuku 2 times -once with koshian and once with Chinese red bean paste. The former was very soft and sticky and impossible to roll up. The process was very messy as a result and my Daifuku was not nicely shaped. The Chinese version has oil it in, so it was easy to roll and doesn’t really smear around. My second attempt was way neater and wrapping was easier and looked better, but the taste was not the same.
Second attempt using Chinese red bean paste. The Ichigo Daifuku looks more professionally made don’t you think?