Sakura Mochi and Sakura Ichigo
Sakura Mochi and Sakura Ichigo, Wagashi for spring
桜餅 Sakura Mochi is a very popular Japanese sweet, now in spring it is the right time to prepare and serve it. It is also eaten traditionally on Hina Matsuri, Japanese Girls’ Day. There are two different Sakura Mochi versions: in the Kansai area it is a sweet pink mochi ball, filled with sweet red bean paste (tsubu- or koshi-an) and wrapped in a salty cherry leaf. The other kind is Kanto style Sakura Mochi, it is a crepe-like pancake made from rice- and wheat flour, filled with koshi-an. Salted cherry leaves (sakura-ha) are very important for this wagashi, they are full of flavour and fragrance and taste like a mixture of cherry flowers and bitter almond. The little touch of saltiness adds a nice contrast to this confection; Sakura Mochi isn’t as overwhelmingly sweet Wagashi as many others. Its one of my favourites, in my opinion it belongs to the best Japanese sweets, next to some of the chestnut confections which I really love.
The Kansai version of Sakura Mochi is usually made from dōmyōji-ko flour, steamed and dried mochigome rice. Dōmyōji-ko flour isn’t very easy to find in western countries, but some Japanese specialty shops may carry it. Nevertheless, you can prepare Sakura Mochi with mochigome rice, which is also called glutinous, sweet or sticky rice (please use the round grain version, in a good quality, hakubai mochigome is a tasty brand). You don’t need the special dōmyōji-ko flour; many Japanese like to use it, because it is an easy and quick way to prepare Sakura Mochi at home. When using dōmyōji-ko, you only need to soak it in little water, steam or even cook in the microwave for short time, and voilà, the mochi is done. If you use mochigome rice it will take a little longer, you need to soak the rice for a few hours, but the result will be no less delicious. You will find the other recipes here: salted cherry leaves(sakura-ha) and salted cherry blossoms (sakura-no-hana).
Sakura Mochi Recipe
200g mochigome (glutinous, round-grain rice)
a pinch of salt
300g sweet bean paste( tsubu- or koshi-an)
2-3 drops red food coloring
10 salted cherry leaves
Sugar syrup for mochi:
65g johakuto sugar (or other white sugar)
Sugar syrup for your hands:
Makes 10-15 pieces, depending on the size.
Mochigome rice is sticky, glutinous round grain rice, here is a little more information about it.
The sugar syrup for your hands prevents the mochi from sticking to everything (you, dishes, table, your cat…), it is really helpful.
If the cherry leaves are very salty, place them in cold water for 10 minutes (this will reduce the saltiness), remove them and pat them dry. Divide the sweet bean paste into 10-15 small pieces and shape them into balls.
Wash the mochigome rice till the water is clear. Soak the rice in enough water for 8-12 hours or over night (covered in refrigerator). Then discard the soaking water, and test the softness of the rice: the grains should crumble easily between your fingers(pic). Spread the soaked rice on a piece of clean cloth, twist it and beat/crush the grains with a heavy wooden pestle (or rolling pin) until all grains are broken in half (not smaller).
After the rice grains are crushed, prepare the steamer: bring water to a boil, take the cloth with rice and spread it in the steamer, preferably as wide as possible. Steam on high heat, it is important that the rice is steamed evenly, the cloth should also be moist, it absorbs moisture and the rice won’t get too dry.After 15 minutes of steaming sprinkle the rice with a little cold water, and steam for other 15 minutes.
Prepare the syrup for mochi: boil sugar and water in a small pot, and color it with 2-3 drops of red food coloring, be careful, you want a soft pink tone, not more.
Prepare the sugar syrup for your hands by mixing the sugar with boiling water in a cup and letting it cool.
Add the steamed rice to the pot with the hot (colored) sugar syrup, stir and knead well and remove from heat (add a little salt here). The rice will absorb the liquid. Cover with a cloth, let stand for 15 minutes.
Brush a tray/plate with the cold syrup (for hands) and take out the rice dough
(be careful here, since it’s very sticky), moisten your hands with sugar syrup and knead the mochi dough, then form a long shape (use more syrup, if the dough is very sticky). Divide the mochi in 10-15 pieces, take one piece, shape it into a small ball, and then flatten it out in your palm. Put one of the bean paste balls in the middle, wrap the mochi around it and seal the edges. Place the filled mochi on a cherry leaf, and wrap the leaf around it (with the shiny side outside).
Enjoy with a cup of Japanese green tea!
Sakura Mochi are best eaten as long as they’re still very fresh, they don’t keep well. If you like fresh strawberries (who doesn’t…) you can also prepareいちご桜餅 Sakura Ichigo or even桜ん坊餅 Sakuranbō Mochi, without the cherry leaf but with fresh cherries inside. This recipe is also suitable for other mochi versions: Tsubaki Mochi with a camellia leaf, Edamame Mochiwith bean jam made from edamame(fresh green soybeans), or even for Bota or Ohagi Mochi.
Eine andere Version von Sakura Mochi ist いちご桜餅 Sakura Ichigo(bzw. Ichigo Sakura Mochi), es wird genauso zubereitet wie Sakura Mochi , mit Anko gefüllt, dann steckt man ein frische Erdbeere hinein und verschließt das Mochi. Sehr köstlich und erfrischend! In Japan gibt es auch Versionen, die für Hina Matsuri zubereitet werden, und den Kaiser und Kaiserin darstellen sollen, oft ist “der Kaiser” in einem zarten grün, die Kaiserin natürlich in Rosa. Das salzige Kirschblatt dient manchmal auch als Kimono, ein Kirschblüte stellt den Fächer dar, leider habe ich kein Bild davon da, und nicht daran gedacht, solches Wagashi zu machen.
Der “alte” Sakura Mochi Artikel mit Rezept in Deutsch wurde überarbeitet und republiziert, zu finden im April 2010, ich bin mit der alten Version sehr unzufrieden gewesen. Die Bilder sind ein wenig anders, aber ähnlich.