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reach for the sky!

Recipe: strawberry daifuku mochi

You know, I’m always looking up. You might think it’s because I live with an astrophysicist or that it has to do with my graduate minor in atmospheric sciences. Actually, I’ve been enamored with the night sky since I was a wee tot and I began to obsess about the weather ever since I learned to sail at age 9. It’s just habit now to gaze skyward at dusk to search for Venus or look for the Milky Way while Kaweah takes her time in the side yard at night. Sunset is a regular event for us. Missing it makes me feel like my day is incomplete. And the weather? Well, that dictates a good deal of what I do both professionally and recreationally. I’ve always got one eye on the sky.

a lee wave (standing or stationary wave)

lots of textures

with crazy cool fringes

And even though we were on the wrong side of the planet to witness the total lunar eclipse, I was still pleased to greet the full moon as it rose – big, glowing, and gorgeous. I never tire of seeing her, like an old friend.

she’ll be comin’ around the mountain when she comes…

we tried to get kaweah to howl, but she wouldn’t

But there is always room for new friends. Not that I have found some new heavenly bodies or anything, no. I meant room in my belly for my new BFF that I met while eating my way through the Big Island of Hawai’i. I’m a little ashamed to say it, but I couldn’t get those amazing strawberry mochi from Two Ladies Kitchen in Hilo out of my head. And with strawberries in season…

organic and juicy

sweet azuki bean paste

I had no idea how complicated making mochi could be, but I knew if I could make mochi, the rest should be simple because the only other ingredients are (good) strawberries and sweet azuki bean paste. I prefer the azuki paste with a few mashed and whole beans mixed in, but this was all that my local Asian grocer had – and driving all over the flats in summer for single grocery items makes me stabby. So of course, I researched this delicacy on the interwebs and to my delight Clotilde had written an informative post on exactly what I was looking for! *Rejoicing*

potato starch and glutinous rice flour

mix water, sugar, and rice flour

So I know some gluten-free folks freak out when they see glutinous rice flour because they think there is gluten in the rice flour. There is no gluten in the rice flour – the word glutinous is used to describe how dang sticky this stuff is (and it is STICKY). Good news! Instead of using Mochiko, a brand of rice flour that my beloved grandma used to make Chinese treats for me when I was little, I used this finer flour that my Asian grocer in Boulder carries. Worked without any issues. Just mix with some water, some sugar, rub out the lumps, and nuke it. Nuke (microwave) it until it becomes thick and somewhat translucent. It took me about five minutes on high power. Crazy stuff!

slightly translucent here and ridiculously sticky

pour onto a bed of potato starch or suffer the consequences

I worried that when the mochi cooled, it would be impossible to mold or it would lose its stick, but that wasn’t the case at all. The potato starch is there to keep you from losing your marbles. Make sure you have plenty of it. I coated the mochi and then flattened it out with my hands as evenly as I could. I sliced the mochi up with a pastry cutter forming squares. The size really depends on how large your berries are. I think some of my berries were huge, so I should have made bigger pieces of mochi for wrapping around them (darn, I’ll just have to make more).

cutting the mochi

gently shaping the sticky, elastic mochi

The mochi cannot be stretched infinitely thin. It will tear when too small a piece of mochi is pulled around too large a strawberry (discrete discontinuity), so use your judgment when cutting the mochi for each berry. Clotilde instructed coating the berry in azuki paste first then wrapping it with mochi. I opted to smear a little azuki paste on the mochi, dropping the berry in the middle, and wrapping the whole ensemble. It works. I mean, it all oozes around the berry while you wrestle the mochi into place.

it’s easier when you place it tip side down

pinch the edges together (they will stick)

When the strawberry is encased in azuki paste and sweet mochi, gently press it into a round shape and pat it down with more potato starch. These are best eaten fresh although they will last a day in the refrigerator (if you can resist polishing them all off). Heck, I think I could live off of these for the rest of the summer, really. They aren’t terribly difficult to make – just sticky – and they are totally worth it. I’ve got a little bit of Hawai’i going on in Colorado now.


Strawberry Daifuku Mochi
[print recipe]
from Chocolate and Zucchini

3 1/2 oz. (100 g) glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
2/3 cup (150 ml) water
2 cups (or more) of potato starch (or cornstarch, but I prefer potato starch)
a dozen ripe small strawberries* (preferably organic), washed, hulled & patted dry
1/4 – 1/2 cup sweet azuki bean paste

* I just want to let you know that I doubled the recipe because my strawberries were mostly ginormous.

Mix the rice flour, sugar, and water together in a glass or pyrex bowl. Work out the lumps until smooth. Place bowl in microwave oven and set on high for a couple of minutes. Stir the mixture and cook on high for another two minutes. Continue until the dough becomes thick and translucent (i.e. no longer chalk white). It will get hot too, so be careful. If you don’t have a microwave, you can steam the mochi or put it in a rice cooker to achieve the same results (see Clotilde’s post). Spread the potato starch on a large rimmed baking sheet. Pour the contents of the bowl onto the potato starch. Cover the top of the mochi with potato starch and gently pat it down to flatten it. Cut the mochi with a pastry cutter or knife into a dozen pieces. Stretch a piece of mochi out gently with your fingers and place a small amount of azuki paste in the center. Set a strawberry, tip down, on the mochi and pull the edges up around the berry. Twist the tops and press together to seal. Shape the mochi into a little sphere and set it seam-side down. Dust with some potato starch. Serve. Makes 12 strawberry mochi.

25 nibbles at “reach for the sky!”

  1. Nate @ House of Annie says:

    Beautiful, and beautifully done!

    I love daifuku, but only discovered the strawberry daifuku recently, at Mana Bu’s in Honolulu. Apparently they’re quite common in Japan. I wonder what other kinds of whole fruit would lend itself to this kind of sweet treatment.

  2. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga says:

    Your strawberry mochi are adorable and delish looking!

    And the moon pics…breathtaking!

    And I had a BLAST filling out the F & L questionnaire! :)

  3. Bing Chou says:

    “I’ve got a little bit of Hawai’i going on in Colorado now.”

    Colorado could use a bit of Hawai’i. Or maybe a lot.

  4. Michelle says:

    Wow! I have been wanting to get my hands on some mochi but living in the middle of nowhere country it has been hard. Thank you for sharing this recipe, I am excited to give it a whirl!

  5. Ro says:

    Oh – those look amazing and you make them seem possible. I’m going to go round up the ingredients this weekend and see if hubby can hold the little girl at bay long enough for me to make them. They count as relatively healthy, right? As in, at least as healthy as the fig newtons she’s been obsessed with lately? Right now I”m hoping that the fiber content in those makes me a not-totally-bad mother.

  6. Jeannie says:

    Wow! I can see that it’s not easy to wrap up the mocchi..but sure worth it! Looks delicious!

  7. Diana Banana says:

    oh wow, my dad LOVES mochi, i’ll definitely have to make these for him when i go home this summer. (luckily i’m the youngest and only daughter so of course he’ll share with me! as for anyone else in the family…well, they’ll have to fend for themselves)

  8. Heidi @ Food Doodles says:

    Aw so cute! I remember trying mochi when I was younger and I didn’t like it at all. But I’m seriously considering trying them again – especially with fruit in the middle. They look so good. Plus, homemade is always better anyways right?

  9. debbie says:

    I also just adore the night sky and have since I was little. I would just lie on the grass outside with friends at night and try to imagine how far away the stars really were. Your moon pictures are absolutely beautiful. Thanks for posting them!

  10. April says:

    I’m so happy to see this recipe! I had some of the same mochi in Hilo a couple years ago, and I still think about them occasionally. It never occurred to me to try making them myself though. I’ll definitely give these a try.

  11. cory says:

    this is so fun! i became nothing short of addicted to mochi six or so years ago; i first had them for dessert at a fancy dancy NYC japanese restaurant (that would be Nobu) and thought they were some uber special treat. fast forward a year or two when i discovered how much i loved asian ingredients & cooking, and imagine my surprise to find mochi ice cream balls in the freezer for $7 for 6 balls! i started eeating them like gangbusters! these look so fun. i wonder if you could do a strawberry & vanilla ice cream variation?! i cant wait to make em. thanks so much. btw…..i will be in your hood next wednesday through sunday – househunting! my fiance and i are moving to boulder and i cannot even begin to tell you how full of stoke this lady is :)

  12. Cate @ Girl Cooks World says:

    I LOVE Two Ladies Kitchen mochi! It’s always so great when one of my coworkers goes on a trip to the Big Island and brings it back as omiyage :) Although I’m one of the weird ones who prefers their other kinds of mochi rather than their famous strawberry variety…

  13. Kelly says:

    Such wonderful pics of the moon!! I would love to be able to do that! I was sad to read that we would not be seeing it in N America. We watched it peek in and out of the clouds 2 nights ago as we thought about the eclipse.

  14. Sweet Tooth says:

    what could be better than red bean and strawberries in mochi! OMG! I gotta give this a try! I just have to find that can of read bean here.

  15. Margie says:

    I’m going to challenge myself one of these days….and soon!

    I think I can taste those from here. ;)

  16. Shopaholicinvan says:

    LOVE THIS! Thanks Jen! Gives me something to do this weekend. NOMlicious!

  17. Teresa says:

    My favorite mochi has the black sesame seed paste, but I’ve never been able to find the paste in the Asian supermarkets. Do you know how to make the black sesame paste? Thanks!

  18. Sue Herrmann says:

    I think your psychic! I was just thinking about making mochi after trying your recipe for chive dumplings (the dough felt like mochi). I was planning on searching for a recipe for making mochi when I opened your blog and saw your recipe.

    I love your website and your recipes. Your pictures of snow, and now summer are gorgeous and your passion for family and food is very Chinese. As a non-practicising Chinese, married to a “white boy”, you have given my cooking inspiration to cook the foods of my childhood.

    Thank you very much for your generosity,


  19. Lisa A says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting Mochi! I read your post of when you were on the big island. I researched the place you had Mochi and I scoured the web for a recipe. None of it sounded easy or even doable. I had my fingers crossed that you would post it so I could have a little taste. I knew I just couldn’t wait until I saved enough to get to Hawaii myself.

    The moon to me is like a friend that has been there all my life… every step. She has been there through thick and thin. Orion is also wonderful too. A powerful warrior. I loved seeing him while doing night operations in the Marines.

  20. Ro says:

    We made them! Mine were incredibly ugly but tasted good. So… What does one do with half a can of sweet beans?

  21. jenyu says:

    Nate – I know!! I’m starting to dream of stuffing mochi with different fruits like mango, watermelon (maybe too wet?), apple, pear. I’m ADDICTED.

    Bing Chou – not too much!! :) I like my snow in summer…

    Ro – As long as she doesn’t eat all of them, I’m sure she’ll be fine (and you’re a great mom)

    Heidi – yes! I’ve tasted a lot of mochi and I have to say the homemade stuff is just so tender and chewy and awesome.

    debbie – thanks!

    cory – awesome! hope you guys like it (and hope you don’t suffer the sticker shock of house hunting!)

    Teresa – I think you can grind your own and add sugar and some lard or shortening? I’ve never seen it sold in stores, but then again, I’ve never tried it.

    Sue – so glad to help another of my people (ABCs) looking for recipes we love but never knew how to make. It’s an adventure! :)

    Lisa A – they’re pretty easy to make, just finicky dealing with the mochi dough. Hope you got to try them finally!

    Ro – ha ha, make more? :)

  22. Joy says:

    The mochi looks great.

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  25. Pookie says:

    Just tried this recipe today! The mochi was surprisingly easy to make and now i’m super excited to make different types! Misjudged the size of square needed to fit around my strawberries though so I ended up with a Hamentashen type shape with the strawberry jutting out ^^;;.

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