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
- 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.
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!
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!