03 May 2009

Sticky Sweet: Strawberry Mochi

File under super super super super sticky, and only mildly sweet.

Despite having sworn off of making Japanese food for a while after going overboard for a week, our abundance of strawberries made me break that promise. Alannah and I both love the sticky, squishy, stuffed balls of sweet mochi known as daifuku – and above all else, we love ichigo daifuku – or strawberry mochi to the non-Japanese speaking world.

Making it isn't all that difficult. Just messy. Really sticky and messy. By the time we were done, there was white stuff flung all over the room.

It starts out simple enough: Combine even amounts of mochiko (fine rice flour) and sugar water. 100 grams of each should be about enough to make six. You can make more, but these should all be eaten the same day, or maybe the next. Keeping homemade mochi fresh - without either melting into a pile of goo or drying into a brick - is still a mystery. (Leave a comment if you have any pointers...)

Heat up the mixture over a medium burner and stir it until you have a soft dough.

At this point, this stuff will stick tenaciously to the pot, spoon, spatula, fingers, hair, clothes - anything it comes in contact with... Put the mochi dough aside and let it cool for around 15-20 minutes.

Food pr0n bordering on Schei├če...
In the meantime, hull your strawberries and wrap them with anko (red bean paste). If you're a kid – or simply immature like me – joke about how much anko sounds like unko, which is Japanese for poo.

If you look elsewhere on the web for instructions on making ichigo daifuku, you'll find that a lot of fellow amateurs simply wrap their strawberries in an even layer of anko, making it look like a vertical lump of poo. For a more professional looking end-result, after surrounding your strawberry with anko simply work the shape into a half-dome. It only takes an extra five seconds, and your daifuku won't look like... well... shit.

When your mochi dough has cooled, plop it out of the pot on to a very well rice-floured (or corn/potato starched) board. Cover your hands with flour/starch – and I mean cover – and grab chunks of the dough to quickly and gently work into golf-sized balls.

Warning: Anything that is not covered with flour/starch will stick to your balls and not let go.

In the well-starched palm of your off hand, gently flatten a ball of mochi dough, place a half-dome of strawberry/anko curved side down in the middle of the dough, and bring up the sides of the dough and pinch together. This is the bottom of your daifuku.

And that's it! Turn your ichigo daifuku over and place onto a plate - again, one dusted with flour/starch. And while you're at it, sift some more flour/starch over the completed daifuku to prevent sticky fingers.

Or in the immortal words of Samantha Fox, "Then again... that could be fun!"

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