Daifuku Mochi (Sweet Rice Cake): Eating Japan

by Valerie on Friday, December 31, 2010

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Daifuku mochi most commonly comes filled with red bean paste, white bean paste, or sometimes a strawberry or other fruit with red bean paste. The soft, sticky rice is typically plain and so appears white and slightly transparent, or it's colored (and flavored) with green tea powder or a touch of red food coloring.

We decided to get a little creative with our mochi and tried all three colors as well as a surprisingly delicious fruit version. Since it isn't the season for strawberry, we decided we'd try using another fruit as filling and although most fruits that came to mind (like melons and lychee) tended to be summer fruits, we decided to try using persimmons. Much to our delight, they turned out great! We basically made three variations in the recipe that affects the flavor – green tea powder in the rice flour, persimmon as filling, and sesame seeds around the outside. The results were excellent and we had a lot of fun making them.

Some things we picked up at an Asian supermarket for this recipe were sweet rice flour (we used Mochiko brand), red bean paste, green tea powder and kinako (soybean flour).

Makes 6 pieces:

- 1 cup sweet rice flour
- 1 1/2 tbsps sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- about 3/4 cup of red bean paste (2 tbsps per mochi)
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar

Variations:

- 1 tsp green tea powder
- red food coloring
- sesame seeds
- 2 tsp kinako (soybean flour)
- 1 persimmon

First things first, get your nice clean countertop or table surface ready by generously sprinkling cornstarch all over it. You're going to use this not only to help you form the mochi, but also to protect your hands from the scorching hot sticky rice!

Making the Mochi Rice Paste

Combine 1 cup of sweet rice flour and 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar with 2/3 of a cup of water in a microwave safe bowl. Mix until smooth. Microwave the mixture on high for 1-2 minutes (you could also do this in a steamer). The time needed to make the perfect mochi consistency depends entirely on the strength of your microwave, so stop and check it after about 30 seconds. If it's starting to set, give it a quick swirl and put it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds. The perfect mochi is smooth, sticky and soft, but not overly wet.

When it's done, empty it onto your cornstarched surface using a spoon or spatula (or your hands if you're brave). Cut the ball in half and then cut each half into thirds making six even pieces to work with. We found this was made easiest with a pastry scraper.

Forming the Mochi

Now for the fun part! Coat your hands in cornstarch and grab a piece of mochi. Using both palms and the pads of your fingers, flatten the mochi into a circle about 3-4 inches in diameter. Ideally you want the outer edge to be slightly thinner than the center of your flattened disc, as the edges will soon be pinched together to form your ball. Sprinkle a bit of cornstarch onto your hands or into the mochi if things are getting sticky. The process of smooshing mochi feels a lot like playing with gak or play-doh, so be sure to take a moment to soak in the childhood memories as you do this!

Once you've made your flattened disc, place about 2 tablespoons of red bean paste into the center of the disc. Then carefully lift the edges of the mochi up over the red bean paste and pinch them together to completely encase it. Use both hands to help mold the mochi into a ball if the shape has become irregular in the process.

Finally, dust the mochi in a mixture that is half cornstarch and half powdered sugar to make it easy for people to pick them up and eat them and to add a hint of sweetness. And that's how you make mochi!

Mochi with Fruit and Red Bean Paste

For the persimmon mochi, we cut the persimmon into eighths and used one section per mochi. We followed the same steps as before but reduced the red bean paste to about 1 tablespoon. We then placed the persimmon in the center of the red bean paste so that when we closed the mochi into a ball, the persimmon was coated with red bean paste. This one was delicious!

Green Tea Mochi

To make green tea mochi, simply add 1 teaspoon of green tea powder to the original sweet rice flour and sugar mixture before microwaving. It is amazing how brilliantly this colors the mochi and the hint of green tea flavor is delightful. A variation on the green tea mochi that I often see is dusting it not with cornstarch and powdered sugar but instead a mixture of kinako (soybean flour) with a tiny bit of powdered sugar. I love, love, love the flavor of kinako and I think it's perfect for the green tea mochi.

Pink Mochi

To make pink colored mochi, add a tiny droplet of red food coloring to the mixture before microwaving. These are so pretty! I remember as a child liking these the best even though they don't taste any different than the plain white ones!

Sesame Mochi

Finally, for a unique and wonderful added flavor and texture, slightly wet the outside of the mochi balls to bring back the stickiness it had when it first came out of the microwave. Then roll the mochi in sesame seeds for an outer coating that looks beautiful and tastes delicious!

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{ 24 comments }

Belinda @zomppa December 31, 2010 at 8:38 am

These are GORGEOUS! So colorful.

rebecca December 31, 2010 at 2:31 pm

wow great mochi post love it filled with ice cream happy new year :-)

Rebecca

Nadia January 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm

your mochi are beautiful! i love your photos, they have a beautiful tinge (if you know what i mean, hehe)

Bailey January 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Well done you!!! They are all so spot on… They look every bit PRO!

Happy New Year!

Valerie January 2, 2011 at 10:40 am

Happy New Year everybody! Thanks for the comments. We had a blast making these and they were yummmmmy! :)

Tanvi@SinfullySpicy January 2, 2011 at 11:23 am

This looks crazy good.With all those step by step pictures..you have made it look ultra simple!I would love to taste the green tea ones..so so beautiful!
Happy New Year!

kamran siddiqi (the sophisticated gourmet) January 2, 2011 at 12:58 pm

These looks absolutely delicious! I have never made mochi before and now that I have a beautiful step-by-step post to reference, I just might have to make some soon!

Lentil Breakdown January 2, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Simply stunning! Happy New Year!

matiko January 14, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I tried this recipe out and it was absolutely amazing&delicious! The directions were very clear and easy to follow!

Valerie August 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Awesome, Matiko, so glad to hear that. Thanks for the kind words.

mycookinghut August 23, 2011 at 2:28 am

This looks absolutely yummy! I love mochi!

priscilla poh October 6, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Hi Valerie

Look to try out this mochi recipe but I do not know what is sweet rice flour. Can I use glutinous rice flour or the cooked glutinous rice flour (for mooncake)?
I do not hv microwave oven, can I cook on a normal stove?

Thanks
Priscilla Poh

Danielle January 8, 2012 at 12:49 am

I don’t know about starting from whole rice (I think glutinous rice flour might be the same thing as sweet rice flour,) but yes, you can cook the mixture in a double boiler on the stove, like you’d heat up chocolate.

jacinta April 5, 2012 at 10:27 pm

would it possible to use a food processor, to grind down rice maybe?
I use a coffee grinder to grind spices, and a food processor to turn normal sugar into a finer sugar to substitute caster sugar sometimes :)

Karen April 14, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I’ve never tried making it from rice, I use the powder version, much simpler!

jacinta April 5, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Colours & pics are gorgeous! I want to make these! :)

Karen August 28, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Hi,

Thank you for the beautiful post. I have tried it but i found lots of difficulties making them. Firstly is the heat. They were so hot to work with. Are you able to let them cool a bit more before working them into balls?
Also the once i coat my hands with some potato starch and work them into round ball, they were not able to stick together (as in the the seams would not stick together).
Lastly when is my mochi so floppy? they became flatten balls after awhile.

Would you care to share some tips on making them? Thank you.

Varun January 17, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Hi! ok so i have been looking for sweet rice flour all over. i have friends who own restaurants in india and they are also not sure of where i can find sweet rice flour.
is there a substitute i can use instead of that?

suety February 10, 2013 at 7:31 pm

can i roll it in flour instead?

suety February 10, 2013 at 7:37 pm

can i use something else other than cornstarch?

icecreamandstuff February 12, 2013 at 7:20 pm

how do we steam such a liquidy mixture?

Ruta April 10, 2013 at 10:02 am

Omg these look absolutely fabulous!! Thank you for such a thorough recipe, I’ve always loved mochi and now I finally know how to make them!!

Cecilia June 14, 2013 at 11:48 am

The dough needs to be really thin because, honestly, it’s kind of tasteless and strangely textured. The powdered sugar is the only thing that makes it edible. I put ice cream in mine and – beware – the ice cream melts out and makes the dough sticky on the outside (duh). Also, the mochi are really difficult to form into graceful little balls because the dough becomes a little crumbly during the formation process.

bakeca Oristano August 12, 2013 at 11:43 pm

that looks delicious

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