Come with us now on a journey through time and spaceâ€¦â€¦. and mochi!
I bid you welcome to Chapter 1 of ‘The Mochi Diaries’ and invite you to join me as I indulge in my infatuation with exploring the world of the sticky delicious Japanese sweets known as mochi!!! â˜†*:.ï½¡. o(â‰§â–½â‰¦)o .ï½¡.:*â˜†
But Daniel, you ask, what exactly are these sweet squishy balls of happiness????
Well, to tell it to you short and sweet, mochi (é¤…) are a popular type of Japanese rice cake that can be eaten as either a sweet or savoury dish.
Myself being a gentleman who has made mochi following the traditional process, I can attest to the fact that this is by no means a task for the fainthearted, requiring the stamina and upper body strength to work up a mochi sized hunger in any man. I imagine many of you may have also been fortunate enough to participate in a mochitsukui no hi (æŒã¡æ—ãã®æ—¥; mochi pounding day) over the New Yearâ€™s period alongside members of your local community.
So how is it all done? In a nutshell mochigome(é¤…ç±³; boiled sticky rice) is placed into a concave stone container and beaten with a large wooden mallet until it forms a sticky white ball of dough. From here there are a plethora of paths our mochi can take. If heading down the traditional route, it will be moulded into balls, before receiving the ever common filing of anko (é¤¡ã“; sweet red bean paste).
Anyhow, enough about the process and more about todayâ€™s review! Without further due I present to you ichigo daifuku(è‹ºå¤§ç¦)!
Now I live near a large train station, the type that sports a large gourmet food hall in the depths of its basement. Every now and then I like to take a walk through these labyrinths lined with pricey bentos, simply to steal a peak at what fancy seasonal produce is on offer. However the stalls that I always find myself gawking at are the mochiya (é¤…å±‹), frequently receiving odd looks from the staff as I drool over the intricately crafted mochi through the glass. Recently I decided to indulge in a couple of these deliciously squishy 210å†† a piece delicacies, and befitting the season, ichigo daifuku was the obvious choice!
The origin of these particular sweets is a little hazy with dozens of stores across Japan claiming to have been the creators of this winter/spring time treat. All that can be agreed upon that they emerged on the market some time during the 1980s and become an instant hit. How could it not have been, blending all the deliciousness of fresh ripe strawberries and the soft sweet delicacy of mocha? Itâ€™s certainly a win in my books.
Letâ€™s take a step back, however, and deconstruct the ichigo daifuku. These days they come in a wide variety of flavours with popular varieties swapping out the anko surrounding the strawberry with chocolate or cream to appeal to the modern Japanese palate. The one I present to you today is the traditional koshian ichigo daifuku; a crisp strawberry at its centre, coated in a thick sweet layer of koshian (æ¼‰ã—é¤¡; bean paste) and held together by an outer layer of fresh chewy mochi.
So how does it taste?? In a word AMAZING! The selling point on this mochi for me is definitely the superbness of its texture. Somehow the slight crunch of the strawberry perfectly complements the pillowy firmness of the surrounding mochi, while the anko in between forms the perfect creamy bridge between what one would think to be clashing textures.
It was love at first bite!