Japan is filled with weird desserts. A lot of influence comes from the west, but we somehow incorporate Japan-ness into western desserts. For example, castella came from Portugal and somehow the recipe changed a bit and one of the ingredients now is mirin (sweet sake). Or choux filled with red bean/whipped cream mix. Ichigo daifuku falls somewhere in between. Daifuku is a traditional Japanese dessert with anko (sweet red beans) stuffed inside mochi. It's a comforting dessert, and one day, someone put fresh fruit inside, and it became wildly popular. Now you can find grapes or other seasonal fruit stuffed inside of mochi, wrapped in red bean paste.
Sounds odd right? Beans as a dessert is something western people have difficulty comprehending. We eat beans as a side dish, usually salty, or spicy, or in soup. A lot of beautiful Japanese sweets are usually made out of bean paste, sugar and rice. It's vegan, and many times gluten-free, and I have a feeling more and more Japanese desserts will be found at local grocery stores in the near future.
So I will show you how to make ichigo daifuku (daifuku with a fresh strawberry). It's not that hard -- well, it takes some time if you want to make everything from scratch, but you can cut corners by using store-bought red bean paste.
I made my own red bean paste a couple of days ago. I guess I will post how to make that some other time.
Try to find strawberries that are pointy and small-ish. Cut the stems off.
First, you prepare the daifuku core, made of red beans and a strawberry. Take a small amount of red beans on you palm (wet palm with water to make it easy), spread enough so that you can wrap strawberry around it.
Place a strawberry in the middle.
Cover about 90% of the strawberry with the anko.
Wrap all the strawberries.
Now you need to make the outer mochi. You need shira tama ko ( ground rice flour). You can easily find this at Japanese grocery stores.
What you need is 200 grams of the rice flour, 100 grams of sugar, and 360 ml of water. Put flour and sugar in a microwave-proof bowl.
Add water and dissolve everything. Take some time doing this so that everything dissolves.
Put saran wrap on the container, tightly, and microwave it on high for 2 minutes. After that, the mixture will look like this:
Using a strong spatula or wooden spoon, try to mix this up evenly. Once they are mixed pretty well, put it back into microwave.
From this point on, you need to watch the mixture really carefully. Put it into microwave, and every 30 seconds, check to see how it's doing. You want the mold to be a semi-translucent color.
This one only took an additional 30 seconds to get an even translucent color.
Put enough corn starch or potato starch on a cookie sheet.
Dump the mochi on to the starch, and using wet fingers, spread them and try to cut them into 10 (or however many you are making), using kitchen shears.
This point is very crucial. You need to spread each portion of mochi into pretty thin and wide pieces, and wrap the strawberry bean paste mold while mochi is still hot. Because this is a rapid process, I couldn't be bothered to take pictures.
One way to wrap the core is to use a lot of starch. Mochi is very sticky. But I instead used water as the smoother. Wet your hand, and grab a portion of mochi, then try to spread wide enough to be able to wrap the core. And the end product looks like this:
And I realized they are not only strawberry red bean paste stuffed mochi, but it also looks like the perky boobs of a young and naive female. This cute red nipple only belongs to someone pure.
When you cut them in half, you see a thin layer of bean paste, plus sweet and sour strawberry with mochi.
This makes an interesting Valentine's Day dessert. It's usually all about chocolate and strawberries, but how about strawberries and sweet bean paste?! Plus, it looks like a boob, and feels like one since the mochi is very soft. How perfect is this??!!