I was incredibly pleased recently to discover a Japanese food store in my area and couldn’t resist getting my hands dirty (literally) with a new recipe. Ever a fan of desserts, I decided to try something I haven’t had in a long while: Ichigo Daifuku Mochi, (translated to strawberry great luck rice cake). Daifuku is a Japanese rice cake stuffed with a sweet filling, most commonly a sweetened red bean paste called anko. Ichigo daifuku takes this one small step further and adds a strawberry in the center.
The tartness of the strawberry really pulls this entire confection together, adding an extra burst of flavor to a sweetness that generally isn’t too bold in this Japanese dessert. One issue we were running into, however, was that the rice was drying out before we could properly wrap the strawberries. The trick was to lower our batch size: Only five strawberries at a time so we could use the rice cake while it was still malleable and sticky. One other issue we had manipulating the mochi was just how darned sticky it could be! The best solution was to keep plenty of corn or potato starch on hand and to pat our hands and fingers in it regularly. One last note: These ingredients with most likely be found in a Japanese grocery store, however if you don’t have one near you, Amazon has both mochiko and anko you can get delivered. Keep reading below for our recipe for this delicious confection.
Ichigo Daifuku Recipe
(makes 6 servings)
- 5/8 cup mochiko (glutinous rice flour)
- 5/8 cup (or 150ml) water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 5 strawberries
- 3/4 cup (or more to taste) Anko (sweet red bean paste. Use Koshian [or smooth] style red bean paste if you can)
- Corn starch for dusting
- Mix together the mochiko and the sugar in a medium, microwave safe bowl then set aside.
- Hull the strawberries and dry completely with a paper towel. Divide the anko into 5 balls of roughly the same size. The anko gets sticky in your hands so you will probably have to wash your hands after each new ball otherwise they will be hard to shape.
- Wrap the strawberries with the anko, leaving the tip of the strawberry uncovered. Again, you will probably need to wash your hand between each strawberry.
- Using a silicone spatula, add the water in 3 parts and stir until the mixture has reached a thick consistency. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set workspace on the side dusted with cornstarch.
- Microwave the mochiko mixture for 1 minute. Mix well with a wet silicone spatula. Cover again with plastic wrap. Microwave again for 1 minute, and mix again, covering with plastic wrap once more. Microwave one last time for 30 seconds. the flour mixture should start to look slightly translucent now.
- Scrape the mochi out onto the dusted workspace and dust lightly with a little extra corn starch on top. Flatten the mochi a little, then fold in half, once more dusting with corn starch. Warning, the mochi will be pretty hot, so it’s INCREDIBLY important to make sure your hands are well dusted with corn starch so you don’t have anything sticking to your hand and burning you. Use a bench scraper or silicone spatula to cut the mochi into 5 equal pieces.
- Take one piece and flatten it out to roughly a 3″ round or square. Place the anko covered straberry on top, with the tip facing down. Cover the strawberry with the mochi from all sides, and use your thumb tp hold the mochi on top. When all of the sides of the mochi meet at the top, twist to close. Hold the mochi with both hands and form into a nice, round shape. Repeat with remaining mochi.
- Serve and store at room temperature. Consume within two days.
Recipe adapted from Just One Cookbook