Ichigo Daifuku (Strawberry Glutinous Rice Ball)
Updated: Aug 9, 2020
Daifuku is definitely one of my favourite Asian dessert! I remember 10 years ago when I attempted to treat my chefs from Australia this sweet, they were not impressed with the texture and it was then that I realise that this Japanese glutinous rice dessert goodness is not a dessert for everyone like a chocolate cake is. Perhaps in the western culture, the gooey texture is not something that feels right in the palette, but regardless, I love it!
Almost every traditional Malaysian desserts has some sort of glutinous rice/ rice flour in them and the texture reminds me fondly of home. My first visit to Japan a couple of years ago made me fall deeply in love with everything mochi all over again! The best one I have ever had was a "Dango" (little mochi balls on skewers), pan fried and smeared with miso paste!
With quite some time at hands and reminiscing about what I miss most in terms of desserts, I thought I would give the Ichigo Daifuku a go. I have made this dessert many years ago and I have completely forgotten how easy it is to make them.
What is Ichigo Daifuku?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this traditional Japanese dessert, you would often find them in Asian supermarket, and they are usually frozen. Ichigo Daifuku stands for "Ichigo" (Strawberry) and Daifuku (Great Luck), although what it really is is a glutinous rice flour wrap around usually one strawberry and sweetened red bean paste).
What is the difference between Mochi, Dango and Daifuku?
Often you will come across "Mochi" and "Daifuku" being inter-connected, but the two things are quite different but yet similar in appearance and taste. Mochi usually refers glutinous rice cake made from broken down glutinous rice and steamed then pounded in to a smooth gooey skin to wrap around the fillings. Dango, on the other hand are little glutinous balls in a skewer made from glutinous rice flour.
This is when Daifuku comes in to place. Daifuku generally refers to filled mochi and in the case of this blog, filled with Azuki (Red Bean) Paste and/or with strawberries.
Although Daifuku are commonly made from Glutinous rice rather than glutinous rice flour, I attempted making the following recipe with the flour instead, minimising the production time and the result is pretty good with the skin slightly on the softer side. The production time for this is really quick and easy! (Providing that you are not making the red bean paste fillings, which I will share in a different post).
In the below recipe, I have coloured the Glutinous rice skin with some freeze dried strawberry powder to omit any food colouring and this gives the skin some flavour as well!
Makes 6 x Ichigo Daifuku
100 g Glutinous rice Flour
25 g Caster Sugar
150 g Water
1 Tbs Freeze Dried Strawberry
200 g Red Bean Paste
6 medium Strawberries
50 g Wheat Starch
1. Start by cutting the stem off the strawberries, wash and dry them. With the help of a cling film, wrap each strawberries with some red bean paste. Ensure not to make the filling too large otherwise it can be quite hard to wrap it with the dough.
Meanwhile, place the 50 g wheat starch in a non stick frying pan over low hit and stir for roughly 2 to 3 minutes and set aside to cool for dusting later.
Note: If you are using canned red bean paste, place the red beans into a non stick pan sprinkled with 1 tablespoon of wheat starch until it thickens in to a paste. Set aside in the fridge, covered with cling film until completely full.
2. Mix, glutinous rice flour, sugar, freeze dried fruit powder and water in a microwave bowl until smooth. Ensure that the bowl is large enough for the dough to rise up in the microwave.
Cover the top of the bowl with a heatproof/microwavable cling film and start with 1 minute. The dough will start to rise in the microwave but still be slightly raw around the sides.
3. Remove the cling film, stir the dough to mix, then wrap with cling film again and microwave for 90 seconds. The dough will start to rise significantly in the microwave and collapse again once the time is up.
4. Stir the dough to mix and it should look translucent. If you spot any raw dough, place it back in to the microwave covered with cling film and microwave again in 30 seconds intervals.
5. Dust a deep baking pan with the cooked wheat starch and transfer the hot sticky dough on to the starch. Let the Dango dough cool slightly then portion it in to 6 equal portion.
Note: it is easier to wrap the mochi fillings while the dough is slightly warm (not Hot!). Cold Skins make it hard to adhere to each other.
6. Flatten each dough slightly to get even thickness. Place the filling in the centre of the dough and stretch the ends to the centre to meet and squeeze to seal. The dough is quite forgiving and can stretch without tearing too easily. If it is sticking to your hands, slightly dust your hands with the wheat starch.
7. Roll the sealed daifuku in the starch, then brush off any excess.
To prepare the fillings
It is recommended that you consume the mochi on the same day for best quality and I highly doubt it would stay for more than a day! Enjoy!