Ichigo daifuku is a classic and well loved Japanese sweet. Made with soft, stretchy homemade sweet rice mochi wrapped around succulent strawberries coated in smooth red bean paste, you can now make this irresistible dessert from scratch at home!
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What is ichigo daifuku?
Daifuku (大福) is a Japanese sweet that consists of a sweet rice cake which is stuffed with a sweet filling. The most common filling is “anko” (餡子) or “red bean paste” made from adzuki beans. It is also common to fill them with fruits or cream too.
“Ichigo” is the Japanese word for strawberry, so in the case of Ichigo Daifuku, the mochi and anko are wrapped around a whole strawberry. I have to say that the tart strawberry combined with the sweet anko and mochi creates a wonderful balance and it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular kinds of daifuku!
The difference between mochi and daifuku
When translated into English, Ichigo Daifuku is known as “Strawberry Mochi”. With this in mind, you might wonder why this sweet is not called “ichigo mochi”, but there is a real reason for that.
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from a glutinous rice called mochigome (もち米). The mochigome is steamed and pounded to form a firm and chewy rice cake known as “mochi”. Traditionally mochi would be pounded in a mortar called an “usu” (臼), these days you can buy mochi machines and make it at home but it’s much more common to buy it premade (you can buy cut mochi on Amazon). Once cooled the mochi becomes hard. It’s often served toasted with dipping sauce or cooked in soups, it’s known to Japanese people as a more of a savoury ingredient.
On the other hand, daifuku is made with something called “gyuhi” (求肥). Gyuhi is a sweet mochi-like dough made by kneading glutinous rice flour (also made with mochigome) with sugar and water over heat. Once cooked and kneaded, it forms a stretchy rice dough that can be wrapped around various fillings. Unlike mochi, even when cooled, gyuhi maintains it’s soft texture due to the sugar content. This is what makes daifuku different from mochi and why gyuhi is more suitable for making sweets.
Ingredients to make strawberry mochi
Making ichigo daifuku requires a few special ingredients. I will explain each one in more detail below.
- Glutinous rice flour (also known as sweet rice flour, mochiko or shiratamako)
- Caster sugar
- Koshi-an (smooth red bean paste)
- Potato starch (or corn starch)
Let’s look over the key ingredients in more detail.
Glutinous Rice Flour (Sweet Rice Flour)
The most important ingredient for this recipe is glutinous rice flour, regular rice flour will not work. This is because glutinous rice flour is made from a special kind of sticky rice called “mochigome”.
The two most common types of glutinous rice flour are mochiko (もち粉) and shiratamako (白玉粉). You can use either for this recipe, but I personally use shiratamako as it results in a softer texture. The texture of shiratamako is extremely coarse with large chunks, it doesn’t look like flour at all, but once mixed with the sugar and water, the result is extremely smooth and soft.
On the other hand, mochiko is fine like a powder. I would say that using mochiko results in a dough that is slightly firmer and less stretchy which can make it more prone to holes when wrapping the filling, but overall the taste and texture is still very good. Mochiko is cheaper and more easily accessible so feel free to use it in this recipe. I’ve tested it myself, so I can confidently say it works!
Smooth red bean paste (koshian)
Koshian (こしあん) is a smooth red bean paste made from adzuki beans. It’s gone through a long process to soften the beans, remove the skins and make sure the paste doesn’t have any bits. It’s a long process that is quite a hassle to do at home. I used store-bought koshian for this recipe.
You can buy koshian smooth red bean paste on Amazon.
When you buy koshian from the store, it might be quite soft, especially in summer. I recommend keeping it in the fridge before shaping to firm it up. If it’s still too soft or sticky even when chilled, you can heat it on the stove to remove some of the moisture (I have more information about this in the instructions below.)
Making mochi is a very sticky and messy task! The best way to prevent getting sticky mochi dough everywhere is to use potato starch or corn starch. When I make mochi, I coat a tray with starch to try and contain the mess, then roll it out in there.
I also cover my hands with starch before touching it, it will stick to your hands straight away if you don’t!
The same goes for any tool you decide to use, for example a rolling pin… coat with starch first! I even keep a small bowl of starch next to me when making mochi, just incase it starts to get sticky again.
I recommend rolling the mochi dough out as thin as you can without breaking it, that way you won’t have to handle it too much when you’re wrapping the strawberries and anko.
Don’t worry about the mochi becoming too starchy, you can brush it off at the end.
Instructions how to make strawberry mochi at home
Here are my step by step instructions how to make strawberry mochi from scratch. For ingredient quantities, check out the recipe card below. I also have a video!
Roll the anko
Smooth anko (called koshian in Japanese) can vary in texture depending on the brand you use. Some can be rolled straight from the packet no problem, others need refrigeration and there are even a few that are extremely soft and difficult to handle.
I recommend refrigerating anko for at least an hour before use and then roll it into 20g balls. If, after refrigerating your anko is too sticky or soft to roll, you can heat it in a saucepan on a low heat to help evaporate some of the excess moisture. If you do this, be sure to mix continuously to prevent burning and stop once it starts to lighten in colour. Spread it out on a plate and lightly over with plastic wrap to help it cool quickly without drying out.
Please only use this step if your anko is too soft to roll!
Roll the anko into 20g balls and rest in the fridge while you prepare the strawberries.
Prepare the strawberries
Wash the strawberries with cold running water and dry thoroughly with kitchen paper.
Cut off the stems and place down with the cut part on kitchen paper to help dry it further.
Use fresh, good quality strawberries for the best results. Try to choose strawberries that are small/medium in size. Not only do they taste better (strawberries tend to lose their flavour as they grow bigger) but they’re also easier to wrap with anko and mochi!
Wrap the strawberries
Take each ball of anko and press it gently on the palm of your hand to flatten it out into a circle a little bigger than the strawberry. Don’t press too hard or it will stick to your hand, you can make it bigger by gently pinching from the centre outwards while rotating. Once it’s a good size, place the strawberry with the point facing up.
Pull the edges of the anko up and around the strawberry, leaving the top slightly exposed. This is so that you can see the position of the strawberry when wrapping it in the mochi. (The strawberry’s point should always be pointing upwards.)
Once they’re all wrapped, cover them and store them in the fridge for later.
Making the gyuhi (sweet mochi dough)
First, whisk the glutinous rice flour with sugar in a microwavable mixing bowl, mixing the dry ingredients first helps it mix more evenly.
I highly recommend using a glass bowl for this.
Next add the water all at once and whisk until smooth.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds at 600W. (Lower wattage will require longer.)
After the first blast in the microwave, the mixture will become lumpy. Switch to a spatula (preferably silicone) carefully peel back the plastic wrap, mix until the lumps are distributed through the mixture.
Cover with plastic wrap again and microwave once more for 2 minutes at 600W. When it comes out, mix the dough thoroughly until it becomes slightly translucent, it shouldn’t have any white parts left. Here is a close up of how it should look:
If you’re doubling or tripling the recipe, you might need to put it in the microwave again (if there is still white liquid in the bowl). I recommend microwaving for an extra minute and mixing each time until you achieve the consistency above.
The gyuhi is extremely sticky, so cover a surface with potato starch or corn starch. I like to use a tray to keep the mess contained for easy clean-up. If you plan to use a rolling pin to roll it out, it’s probably easier to coat a chopping board instead.
Use the spatula to scrape the mochi mixture onto the starch and then cover it generously with more starch.
The mochi will still be hot, you can wait for it to cool down for 10 minutes or so.
I personally stretch the mochi out by hand while it’s still warm. Generously coat your hands with starch and stretch it out into a rectangle. Flip the dough over from time to time to stop it sticking to the tray and add more starch if sticky parts become exposed while stretching it out. In the end, it should be about 1cm thick. (If you’re using a rolling pin, make sure to coat it with starch and re-coat frequently.)
Once rolled out, cut into equal pieces.
With starch coated hands, take a square of mochi and place the anko coated strawberry in the center with the point facing down. (This is why we left the point a little exposed earlier.)
Pull the corners together over the base of the strawberry and pinch them to help them stick.
Pinch the edges together to close them up.
While shaping the mochi, the cut edges will be sticky. These are good for helping you seal up the mochi, but it tends to stick to your fingers. I always keep a bowl of potato starch nearby to sprinkle some extra whenever dough starts to stick to my hands.
Gently roll the mochi in your palm to neaten up the circle shape.
Tip: Place them in cupcake cases to stop them from sticking to the tray or together!
Ichigo daifuku is best eaten the same day as the mochi will harden over time and the juices from the strawberry might start to leak out.
I would say the maximum time to keep them is 24 hours. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge to stop them from drying out (you can also individually wrap them in plastic wrap to protect them further).
I also don’t recommend freezing them because the strawberry will become soggy.
In conclusion, keep refrigerated and eat within 24 hours.
Daifuku can be stuffed with many different fillings, the possibilities are pretty endless and you could be creative here! These are some kinds of fillings you can find in daifuku.
- Plain anko filling (adzuki red bean paste)
- Fruits – strawberries are the most popular but you can also use grapes, kiwis and clementines.
- Ice Cream
- Flavoured Cream
I hope this post was informative! And if you have any further questions or want to tell us about your daifuku-making experiences, please leave a comment below!
Easy Strawberry Mochi (Ichigo Daifuku)
- Roll 160 g smooth red bean paste into 20g balls. Cover and and store in the refrigerator between steps.
- Wash 8 small/medium strawberries and dry them thoroughly. Cut off the stems and place them on a sheet of kitchen paper.
- Take the anko from the fridge and press each ball in the palm of your hand to make a flat circle and place a strawberry in the center.
- Pull the bean paste up around the edges of the strawberry, leaving the tip slightly exposed.
- Cover and store in the fridge until later.
- Pour 150 ml water into the bowl and mix until smooth.
- Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds at 600W.
- Carefully peel back the plastic wrap. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix the cooked lumps into the rest of the mixture. Cover again and microwave for 2 minutes at 600W.
- Peel back the plastic wrap (be careful of steam) and mix vigorously with the spatula until the mochi looks translucent. (If there are still white bits, microwave in 20 second intervals.) The "gyuhi" (sweet mochi dough) is ready to shape.
- Coat a tray or chopping board with cornstarch and use the spatula to scrape the mochi out of the bowl and onto the starch. Allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Sprinkle starch over the top of the mochi and roll it to 1cm thick. You can use your hands to stretch it or a rolling pin to roll it, just make sure to dust your chosen tools generously with starch. Cut the dough into equal pieces.
- Coat your hand with starch and place one piece of mochi in the center of your palm and place an anko coated strawberry in the middle with the point facing down
- Pull the corners of the mochi over the base of the strawberry until they meet in the middle. Pinch them together until sealed. (Keep extra starch nearby in case it sticks to your fingers.
- Roll the finished mochi in your hand to neaten up the shape and place on a sheet of greaseproof paper/container sprinkled with starch. (You could also place them in cupcake cases)
- Repeat for the rest of the anko covered strawberries. (Wash your hands from time to time if they they get sticky, then dry thoroughly before coating with more potato starch.)
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from glutinous rice u0022mochigomeu0022. In Japanese, it usually refers to plain rice cakes used in savoury dishes.
Daifuku is a sweet rice cake made with glutinous rice flour and sugar. They are usually filled with things such as anko (red bean paste), cream or fruits.
For this recipe, you just need a microwave, a microwavable bowl and some plastic wrap. (I recommend a glass mixing bowl). A silicone spatula is also useful.
Mochi is made from u0022mochigomeu0022, a type of glutinous rice that has been milled into a flour. There are many kinds but the two you can use for daifuku are shiratamako and mochiko. You can read about them in this post.