Today's recipe is a classic Japanese sweet that is loved by children and adults alike. Some might call it the ultimate mochi, it's Ichigo Daifuku!
What is Ichigo Daifuku?
Daifuku is a Japanese sweet that consists of a sweet rice cake called mochi (もち) which is stuffed with a sweet filling. The most common filling is "anko" (餡子) or "adzuki red bean paste". Anko is hugely popular in Japan and you'll see it in many sweets. If you like anko, check out our Dorayaki Recipe too!
Daifuku is a type of "wagashi" (和菓子) which means "Japanese Sweets". Daifuku is probably the most popular wagashi in the world, usually just referred to as "mochi" in the west. Actually, the mochi part is just the outside layer, if there is a filling then it is technically "daifuku" to Japanese people.
"Ichigo" (苺) is the Japanese word for strawberry so this daifuku recipe will have a strawberry as the main filling. But it's also popular to use other fruits such as grapes, kiwi and even whole mikan oranges (similar to clementines).
Other kinds of Daifuku
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.
- Anko (Adzuki red bean paste) - The most popular filling
- Fruits - Strawberry is most popular but you can also use grapes, kiwi and clementines.
- Ice Cream
- Flavoured Cream
Anko red bean paste is one of the most common ingredients in Japanese wagashi, but did you know there's 3 main types you can find?
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.
When you buy koshian from the store, it might be quite soft, especially in summer. I find heating it on the stove for a few minutes whilst stirring constantly will help with excess moisture and make the koshian easier to handle, especially for daifuku! It doesn't affect the taste, just be careful not to burn it.
Tsubuan (粒あん) is also made from adzuki beans, but this red bean paste is chunky with bits of the beans still intact. Tsubuan has more texture and is not so hard to make at home! We'll be making a recipe for this soon.
Shiroan (白あん) is a kind of white bean paste made from Shiro-ingen-mame (白いんげん豆) which are the same as white kidney beans. Like koshian, shiroan goes through a lot of process to become smooth. Shiroan has a slightly milder taste and isn't as common as the red varieties, but it's very delicious and goes great in ichigo daifuku if you can find it!
Flour for making Mochi
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from glutenous rice, called mochigome in Japan (もち米) and then milled into a powder. It is sometimes called "sweet rice flour". Although sweet mochi is a lot more popular in the world, Japanese people also love savory dishes with mochi. After all, without adding the sugar, mochi is just a chewy ball of rice!
Traditionally mochi would be pounded in a mortar called an "usu" (臼) until it's soft and chewy, it's a New Year tradition. This is more for plain rice cakes rather than sweet mochi.
Luckily it's easy to make this recipe in the microwave, no mortar required!
When I made this recipe, I personally used Shiratamako (白玉粉). This flour is made from glutenous short grain Japanese rice and the texture is extremely coarse with big chunks, it doesn't look like flour at all. Once you add water and heat it, it makes a lovely smooth and chewy, yet soft mochi dough. Even after the dough has cooled, it is still soft and stretchy. It can be a little pricy, but it's definitely worth it. We also use shiratamako in our easy tofu dango recipe, check it out!
Mochiko (もち粉) is also made from Japanese glutenous short grain rice, it can be used as a substitute for shiratamako and still works great! The powder is a lot finer, it looks very different to shiratamako. The process is exactly the same (microwave times and heat) and the result is pretty similar.
I would say the mochi dough is a bit less stretchy and more prone to holes when you're wrapping the filling but 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!
Glutenous Rice Flour
Glutenous rice simply means sticky rice, not that there's gluten in it. (Ichigo Daifuku is gluten free!) Shiratamako and Mochiko are both made from short grain Japanese rice, but there are other kinds of glutenous rice that use long grains. I personally haven't tried using them, but if you have success stories using other flours leave a comment and let us know!
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 small 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... 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 the dough 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.
What is mochi?
Mochi is a strechy, chewy Japanese rice cake. It can be sweet or savory.
What is daifuku?
Daifuku is a ball of mochi filled with something sweet and tasty, most commonly anko red bean paste is inside.
Do I need special tools to make mochi?
Just a microwave and microwavable bowl for this recipe! (I recommend a glass mixing bowl).
What is mochi made of?
Mochi is made from Japanese short grain glutenous (sticky) rice that has been milled into a flour. There are two kinds, shiratamako and mochiko. You can read about them in this post. This recipe uses shiratamako.
I hope this post was informative! And if you have any further questions or want to tell us about your mochi-making experiences, please leave a comment below! Have a great day.