Warabi mochi is a one of a kind traditional Japanese dessert. It is a must-try if you like unique desserts like pink mochi. Moreover, it is the perfect summertime treat to beat the heat. You can even enjoy it with your favourite Okinawa pearl milk tea.
This Japanese dessert is easier to make than any other wagashi, needing only a few ingredients. Soft and jelly-like, it is a fun and unique gem that is definitely worth trying. You'll never regret it!
What is warabi mochi?
Warabi mochi is a Japanese dessert traditionally made with bracken starch or warabiko. It is usually dusted with soybean powder (kinako) and drizzled with Japanese brown sugar syrup (kuromitsu).
It has a clean and refreshing look, and people often enjoy it during summer. In addition, this Japanese wagashi is gluten-free and dairy-free. Hence, it is a great dessert option for many, especially health-watchers.
It is a speciality of the Kansai region in Japan but is also popular in other areas such as Okinawa. However, this little treat is not globally famous like the typical mochi we all know. Perhaps it is because the ingredients are not easily found everywhere, especially outside Japan.
Despite being named mochi, it is also quite different from the traditional wagashi made from glutinous rice. In fact, it is only called as such because of the similar squishy texture. This Japanese dessert is not as chewy as traditional mochi and has a jelly-like texture instead. Instead, warabi mochi is translucent, soft, jiggly, and dissolves quickly.
What is warabi?
Warabi is the Japanese term for bracken. It is also known as 'fiddleheads'. Bracken is a type of fern that produces starch from the rhizome. It contains 5% starch extracted by grinding up the roots to make pure bracken starch or hon warabiko.
Hon warabiko is a brown starch that requires storage at room temperature. Japanese stores often sell it in small, perishable clumps at a pretty high price. This is because each bracken rhizome only produces a little powder. Yet, it takes a long time to make it.
Therefore, many Japanese stores would also sell warabi mochiko as an alternative. This option typically consists of other starches such as tapioca or sweet potato starch.
Surprisingly, the mochi itself has a minimal flavour. It is almost tasteless! In fact, it has a similar taste to plain tapioca pearls.
However, the roasted soybean powder gives the Japanese wagashi a unique nutty flavour. It also adds a bit of savouriness to the treat. The brown sugar syrup then compliments the soybean powder amazingly with its sweetness.
Like most Japanese desserts, this wagashi strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savoury. Sometimes, the sweet treat is stuffed with red bean paste inside to add more flavour.
Other than the traditional flavours, the modernised versions are worth trying as well. The new flavours include houjicha and fruity ones such as mango, grapefruit, and pineapple.
Kinako soy bean flour and brown sugar syrup are the classic toppings for this sweet wagashi. Another common and tasty choice is matcha powder. This topping goes well with black honey. If you wish to make Matcha warabi mochi, we recommend using matcha powder as the topping.
Apart from that, you can pair this Japanese confection with all kinds of other toppings. Some famous twists include topping it with Milo powder, coffee powder, and black sesame powder.
Feel free to top it with anything your heart desires if you are making it yourself. Just be creative with the toppings and let each flavour tickle your tastebuds!
A serving of warabi mochi contains about 174 calories. Nutrition-packed and low in calories, it is a snack that you can enjoy guilt-free. So think of this sweet treat whenever you want to satisfy your sugar cravings.
The key ingredients to make this Japanese snack are:
- Hon Warabiko: This is the pure warabi starch to make warabi mochi. It is usually brown but sometimes can be blackish. It is easier to find in Japan, but it is almost impossible to find it outside the country. We recommend getting it if you can to make your Japanese wagashi 100% authentic.
- Tapioca starch: You can save time and energy searching for bracken starch by replacing it with tapioca starch instead. It is usually more reasonably priced and easier to find since most Asian grocery stores have it. However, you cannot substitute it with regular flour or corn starch to make this confection.
- Sugar: We recommend using white granulated sugar since it dissolves quickly. You can also use alternatives such as Stevia to make it less sugary, but it will slightly alter the taste.
- Brown sugar syrup: You can either make your own homemade brown sugar syrup or purchase a ready-made one. We recommend using dark brown sugar to make the kuromitsu from scratch. This is because dark brown sugar contains more molasses. Due to that, it is richer in flavour and is more caramel-like.
- Kinako powder: Roasted soybean powder is known as Kinako in Japanese. However, you might also find it in Asian supermarkets by its Korean name, Konggaru. This ingredient is essential as it contributes to the unique flavour of the dessert. You can get roasted soybean powder online too.
Using warabi bracken starch
Using warabi bracken starch to make warabi mochi will surely give you the authentic taste of the dessert. Unfortunately, there are a few disadvantages. As mentioned before, the ingredient costs a fortune. Moreover, it makes the confection have a very short shelf life, so you have to eat it within a day.
Apart from that, making it is pretty simple. You only have to mix the ingredients and cook them over medium heat. Once cooked, refrigerate for a few minutes. Then, cut it into cubes and sprinkle some kinako all over it.
Using tapioca starch
Otherwise, you can make the sweet treat with tapioca starch. Of course, it won't make the most authentic version of this snack, but it is still a fantastic substitute. Plus, it lasts longer than pure bracken starch so that you can save your dessert for later.
You will also need to heat the tapioca starch to give the treat a chewy texture. Other than that, it tends to accumulate at the bottom. Therefore, be sure to check the bottom constantly and mix thoroughly. The measurements for it are the same as using bracken starch. However, you should note that it will create a slightly different consistency for the dessert.
- Cook the mochi on low or medium heat. This will save the sweet treats from getting burnt!
- Ensure that all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Constantly stir as you heat the mixture. Doing so will also prevent the dough from burning.
- Cut the dough with a sharp knife and push it straight down instead of cutting it in sawing motion. Otherwise, it will tear the dough and make it stick to the blade. Plus, it would make a mess, and we don't want that!
- Dust your cutting board with kinako before cutting the mochi to prevent it from sticking on the surface. Then, sprinkle more kinako on the top to ensure clean-cut pieces.
- You can use a baking tray if you do not have a cutting board. Layer it with a baking sheet and sprinkle some kinako on the surface beforehand.
- Refrigerate the mochi for about 20-30 minutes before serving to give it the right consistency. So, make sure to Cool it first for the best warabi mochi experience!
Warabi Mochi Recipe
- ¾ cup Hon Warabiko (pure bracken starch)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup Kinako (roasted soybean flour)
- Kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup)
- Mix the bracken starch, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan.
- Next, heat the mixture until it starts to boil. Reduce the heat and whisk the mixture for 10 minutes or until it is thick and translucent.
- Sprinkle some kinako on a baking sheet and place the cooked mochi on it. Sprinkle more kinako on top of the wagashi and cool it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Once cooled, take it out of the refrigerator and slice it into ¾ inch cubes. Then, add more kinako all over the cubes.
- Lastly, place the treat on a plate and drizzle some kuromitsu over them. Serve your warabi mochi and enjoy!
- Push the knife straight down instead of sawing when cutting.
- The ratio of sugar and starch is usually equal, but you may reduce the sugar if you wish to use more kuromitsu syrup.
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.
You couldn’t find any pure bracken starch? No problem as you can use tapioca starch as a substitute to make this tasty treat. KunkinCook on Youtube has a great video recipe showing the whole process from A-to-Z on how to make warabi mochi using tapioca starch.
How did your homemade Japanese treat turn out? Share with us your photos by tagging us on Instagram @honestfoodtalks!