Strawberry Mochi (いちご大福 – Ichigo Daifuku)
In Japan, the strawberry season runs between December and May. While cake shops fill their cases with strawberry shortcake, traditional wagashi shops are inundated with people looking for Ichigo Daifuku(いちご大福) or Strawberry Mochi.
It’s a modern take on a classic Japanese dessert called Daifuku, which is classically made by wrapping a ball of sweet red bean paste in a thin layer of chewy rice cake, or mochi. During the 1980s, some genius discovered that you could stuff Daifuku with a fresh strawberry, and the staid world of Japanese sweets hasn’t been the same since. These days you can find mochi stuffed with just about anything, from chestnuts in autumn to mango in summer, yet Ichigo Daifuku still reigns over them all.
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works?
- A triple dose of milk, including milk powder, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk, gives this treat a milky taste, creating a strawberry and cream flavor in your mouth as you bite into the creamy anko and fragrant strawberry.
- The mochi is prepared in the microwave using milled mochi rice. This makes it much easier and faster than soaking, steaming, and pounding the rice as it would traditionally be made.
- Using koshian (smooth red bean paste) makes wrapping a thin, even layer of anko around the juicy strawberries much easier. This is important to get a smooth layer of soft mochi around the outside of the Daifuku.
Ingredients for Strawberry Mochi
- Mochiko – Mochiko literally means “mochi flour,” and it’s made by milling mochi rice (glutinous short-grain rice) into a powder. It’s also sometimes sold as “sweet rice flour,” “shiratamako,” and “glutinous rice flour.”
- Sugar – I usually like to use minimally processed types of sugar, but for Daifuku mochi, it’s important to use white granulated sugar; otherwise, your mochi will turn out beige.
- Sweetened condensed milk – This sweetens the mochi while imparting an intense milky flavor.
- Milk powder – Adding dry milk powder lets you double down on the milk flavor in the mochi.
- Milk – Since we’re trying to get as creamy a flavor as possible, I use whole milk instead of water to make the mochi.
- Anko – I prefer using koshian (smooth red bean paste) instead of tsubuan (chunky) because it’s easier to make a uniform layer with smoother bean paste. This also accentuates the texture of the strawberry. You can follow my recipe for tsubuan, but instead of adding the strained beans directly back into the reduced sugar syrup, you need to puree them in a food processor until smooth. I also recommend cooking the pureed adzuki beans and sugar syrup for a little longer to ensure the anko is very firm. You can alternatively use white bean paste as well.
- Strawberries – When selecting strawberries for Ichigo Daifuku, you want to look for very fragrant ones. Ideally, they should also be relatively uniform in shape and size.
- Potato starch – Mochi is extremely sticky, so you’ll need plenty of starch to dust the Daifuku with as you wrap them. Potato starch is the traditional choice, but corn starch will also work.
How to Make Strawberry Mochi
The first thing you’ll want to do is gently rinse the strawberries in cold water and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. If the strawberries are bruised or wet, it will cause your Strawberry Daifuku to spoil prematurely.
Now you want to plug the leaves off of the strawberries by hand. You can use clean kitchen scissors to trim any remaining stem, but don’t core or cut into the strawberry. The only exception is if you plan on eating all of the Ichigo Daifuku right away, in which case you can core them.
Next, you want to enrobe the strawberries in anko. I usually measure out a tablespoon of red bean paste and use my fingers to press it out into a disk. If you find the anko is sticking to your hands, you can either put it in the freezer a bit to chill or grease your hands with a bit of oil. Mold the layer of anko around the base of the strawberry but don’t cover up the tip. Repeat with the remaining berries.
For the milk mochi, whisk the mochiko, sugar, and milk powder together in a microwave-safe bowl until uniformly combined. Next, add the sweetened condensed milk and about a third of the milk and whisk them into the dry ingredients. Whisk the mixture together until it’s smooth, and then add the remaining milk a little bit at a time. This prevents lumps from forming.
When the mixture is smooth, put it in a microwave oven set at six hundred watts for two and half minutes. When it’s done, use the whisk to break up any large clumps and whisk the mixture together. Then, put the bowl back into the microwave and continue cooking for another three and half minutes at six hundred watts.
The mochi dough will be very hot and sticky at this point so being careful not to get any on your hands, use a spatula or paddle to knead the mixture until it forms a smooth elastic mass.
Transfer the mochi to a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper and shape it into a flat square. You can also press it into a square tray or container to make this easier. From this point on, you’ll want to use a generous amount of potato starch on anything that will be coming into contact with the mochi to keep it from sticking.
Use a knife to divide the mochi into nine even pieces. Take one piece and use a small rolling pin to roll it out into a disk that’s about three inches in diameter. You can also press it out with your fingers.
Put the mochi in the palm of your hand and place a strawberry in the center with the tip facing down. Stretch the edges of the mochi up and over the strawberry and pinch the seams together. Repeat until you’ve completely covered the strawberry.
Dust the finished Daifuku with a little more potato starch and roll it around between your hands to finalize the shape. Repeat these steps with the remaining pieces of mochi.
If the mochi becomes hard to work and starts to tear, just pop it back in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it up.
Other Japanese Sweets Recipes
Strawberry mochi is known as Ichigo Daifuku (いちご大福) in Japan. Having been invented in the 1980’s it’s a relatively modern form of wagashi, or Japanese sweets. There are ways to make this Japanese rice cake, but the most common version is made with a fresh strawberry covered in sweet red bean paste that’s wrapped in a layer of soft and chewy mochi.
Strawberry Mochi is a 6-syllable name pronounced as follows (read the italicized parts).
i like even
chi like cheek
go like ghost
dai like dive
fu like fool
ku like cool
This recipe includes dairy products, so it is vegetarian but not vegan. That being said, you can skip the milk powder and substitute plant-based milk along with an extra two tablespoons of sugar to make this vegan.
Ideally, you want to eat Strawberry Mochi as soon as possible. That’s because the mochi will get hard when refrigerated, but the strawberry inside will spoil if it’s left at room temperature for too long. If you don’t plan on eating it immediately, I recommend wrapping each Strawberry Daifuku in plastic wrap and storing them in an airtight container kept in a cool place. This will keep the mochi from sticking together and prevent it from drying out.
- 9 strawberries
- 180 grams sweet red bean paste (9 tablespoons)
- 90 grams mochiko
- 70 grams sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk powder
- 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
- ¾ cup whole milk
- Potato starch (for dusting)
- To prepare the strawberries, wash and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Then pluck the ring of leaves off the strawberry but do not remove the core. Use kitchen shears to trim off any remaining stem.
- Measure out a tablespoon of red bean paste and work it into a disk using your fingers. Place a strawberry in the center with the tip facing up and then form the bean paste up the sides of the berry, leaving the tip exposed. Repeat with the rest of the strawberries, and cover and set aside.
- To make the mochi, add the mochiko, sugar, and milk powder to a microwave-safe bowl and whisk them together.
- Add the sweetened condensed milk and about a third of the whole milk. Whisk this until it forms a smooth paste.
- Whisk in the remaining milk and stir until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
- Put the bowl in a microwave oven and heat for 2 1/2 minutes at 600 watts.
- Remove the bowl and whisk the mixture together, breaking up any large lumps (it’s okay if there are some small ones). Return the bowl to the microwave oven and cook for an additional 3 1/2 minutes at 600 watts.
- Use a stiff silicone spatula to knead the mixture until it’s smooth and elastic.
- Transfer to a sheet of plastic wrap and use the wrap to shape the mochi into a square.
- Unwrap the mochi and generously dust it with potato starch. Cut the mochi into 9 even pieces.
- Roll out a piece of mochi using a small rolling pin, so it’s about 3-inches in diameter, and put it in the palm of your hand.
- Place a strawberry into the center of the mochi with the tip facing down. Stretch the edges of the mochi up to the top and pinch them together. Work your way around the strawberry to seal the Daifuku shut.
- Roll the Strawberry Mochi between your hands to give it a nice round shape, and repeat the last two steps with the remaining strawberries.