Strawberry Mochi is a chewy, sweet Japanese dessert. The Japanese call it ‘ichigo daifuku’ (苺大福) or describe it as a confectionery piece, ‘wagashi’ (和菓子) in Japanese. This dessert has a well-balanced sweet and sour taste and is perfect as an edible cute gift for your loved ones.
In this article, we’ll explore its origins and learn how to create daifuku with the help of traditional recipes. By the end of this article, you would be able to recreate this Japanese wonder in the comfort of your own home kitchen.
What is it?
Strawberry mochi is a doughy ball of glutinous rice flour stuffed with sweet red bean paste, and an entire juicy, tart strawberry. While the fruit is usually covered completely by the rice flour, you may see it sold in some innovative wagashi shops with the berry appearing in the middle of the dough ball.
Unlike traditional daifuku, this dessert uses fruits and was first created in the 80s. Therefore, ichigo daifuku is a fairly modern dessert!
While strawberry mochi is widely known to originate from Japan, the recipe’s popularity in Hawaii gives rise to claims that the Hawaiians invented it.
Indeed, the Japanese originally brought daifuku to Hawaii. The story goes that Hawaiians, who love using fruits in their cooking to combat the hot summers, infused sweet, fresh fruits into traditional daifuku. When you try one of these cool desserts, it does not seem like an impossible claim!
Strawberry mochi in Hawaii is softer, and its form is not as structured as a Japanese wagashi. Apart from fruits, the Hawaiians also experimented with stuffing fun ingredients like sweet lychee, and savoury peanut butter into the daifuku. As a result, some unique wagashi flavours that we know today are from Hawaii.
Other modern variations of this dessert that is trendy now include infusing strawberry mochi into ice cream and cakes. To imagine what the ice cream tastes like, think about how the berry is packed with cold ice cream before being wrapped with the glutinous rice flour skin. Vanilla ice cream is most often used.
Then there is also the popular strawberry mochi cake, which is actually not a cloyingly sweet dessert. Each mouthful is crumbly soft with fruit, a pleasant mix of cake and daifuku.
What does it taste like
Ichigo daifuku blends the sweetness of the fruit with the tartness of the rice cake. Think of biting into a strawberry, but instead of being immediately greeted by the juice, you’ll first taste the soft, chewy glutinous rice flour.
The sweetness of the fruit is neutralised by the earthy rice flavours of the daifuku skin. In fact, many people liken it to marshmallows!
The average strawberry mochi is about 100-150 calories, making it a considerable choice for a snack for those who are mindful of their calorie intake.
In order to make strawberry mochi, you’ll need glutinous rice flour and fresh strawberries.
First, let’s look at how to choose fresh strawberries. As they are the centrepiece ingredient of the dessert, we need to make sure we pick the best ones for our dessert.
- Look for bright red berries. The fruits do not continue to ripen after they are picked, so what you see is what you get.
- Look for fresh green leaves and plump berries with no signs of green mold.
- The berries at the top and bottom of a box should help you tell whether they are fresh.
Glutinous Rice Flour
Now, for the flour to make strawberry mochi. If you’re able to buy shiratamoko from Japanese groceries shops, you’ll be able to make really soft daifuku. Shiratamako is a type of glutinous rice flour (also called sweet rice flour) made from mochigome, a type of glutinous rice.
Substituting with mochiko or other glutinous rice flour is possible, but the texture may turn out slightly chewier and tougher.
Other ingredients include sugar, coconut milk, unsweetened condensed milk food colouring, and cornstarch. We recommend buying white refined sugar, as raw sugar may change the colour of the daifuku.
Apart from the fruits, the ingredients above for strawberry mochi are the same to make the red bean mochi recipe.
Without Bean Paste
While strawberry daifuku is usually sold in stores stuffed with red bean paste then wrapped completely with soft glutinous rice flour, you can also make ichigo daifuku with other types of paste, or no paste at all.
One way is to use white bean paste. Some recipes also make use of white kidney beans, meshed to make a fine best paste.
Other recommendations to make strawberry mochi without bean paste: try matcha, which is Japanese green tea powder. The bitter green tea powder acts as a great counterfoil to the sweetness of the fruit.
Another conventional favourite is to use dark chocolate. Smother the berries into dark chocolate, then wrap with soft glutinous rice flour paste. This makes it a very romantic, seductive gift for a loved one!
Feeling adventurous? You can even use cream cheese to substitute for bean paste. Using cream cheese, biscuit, and jam, you can mix this together into a paste and slather it all over the strawberry. The result is strawberry mochi that tastes almost similar to cream cheesecake!
How to Make Pink Colored Mochi
If you want to make your strawberry mochi a pretty hue of pink, then skip the pink food colouring and go au naturel instead.
When mixing the flour mixture for the dough ball, just add freeze-dried strawberries and pound into the flour mix. It will provide a perfect rosy complexion to the mochi.
In the recipe below, we will not be making pink-coloured strawberry mochi. So, if this is an additional step you would like to take, do not forget to pick up some freeze-dried berries along the way!
Here are some cooking tips before you make your own strawberry mochi.
- First, coat your equipment and your hands in corn or potato starch. As glutinous rice flour is sticky, this will keep the daifuku soft and stop the portions from sticking together.
- Second, wrap each daifuku in plastic wrap when you are making many dough balls. The plastic wrap helps to stop the dessert from drying out.
- You should also choose smaller berries, which helps with making the dough into a ball.
- If you do not have a microwave, you can use a rice cooker or a steamer. The method is the same as our recipe below that uses a microwave.
How To Store
Strawberry mochi can be kept covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Leftovers can go in a plastic freezer bag or an airtight container, then defrost at room temperature when ready to eat.
Consume them within 2 days, or the daifuku will become waxy and hard. Remember to put it in a freezer, and not in a refrigerator for best results.
Strawberry Mochi Recipe (Ichigo Daifuku)
- Rinse, dry, and hull the strawberries. Divide the red bean paste into 6 same-size balls. Wrap the strawberries with paste. Leave the tip of the fruit uncovered.
- In a microwave-safe glass bowl, mix shiratamako and sugar with a whisk. Using a spatula, add water in 3 parts and stir until the mixture is thick. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
- Microwave 1 minute (for 1100W microwave). Mix the flour with a wet spatula. Then microwave for 1 minute again. Mix well with the wet spatula. Finally, microwave for only 30 seconds. Check that the mixture is now a translucent hue.
- Sift corn starch on the tray and put the mixture on top. With a silicone spatula or kitchen scraper, fold in half one time so it won’t be as sticky and then divide into 6 equal pieces.
- Put some corn starch on your hands. Flatten and expand each piece into a ball. Put the red bean paste-covered strawberry on top of it, with the tip facing down. Start covering the fruit from all sides and use your thumb to hold the strawberry mochi on top.
- When all sides of the dough meet at the top, twist, and close. Form it into a nice round shape. Repeat the process. Serve at room temperature.
- Make sure your hands are washed and dry completely each time you handle the red bean paste as the paste is very sticky.
- If you would like to know how to make the anko paste for your strawberry mochi, here is an easy home red bean paste recipe.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
If you would like to watch a video reference of the whole daifuku-making process, RoseAustin C. Youtube channel has a great video for it. We recommend you check it out!
Now, you have a plate of beautiful strawberry mochi, perfect for a hot summer’s day. Indeed, it is a splendid choice for beating the sweltering heat.
If you’ve enjoyed making this and would like to find out more about how to make other Asian desserts, then be sure to follow us on Instagram @honestfoodtalks.