Last week, in a romantic gesture for the V day, I bought strawberries, which according to the label came from … Morocco. Oh dear. I do in fact have strawberry plants in flower in the garden, but only the pink-flowered kind that rarely seem to set any fruit. They’ve been tricked by the weather, but it is still winter and England! So I closed my eyes to the airmiles involved this time and went ahead with the plan. The plan to try to make Ichigo Daifuku (strawberry mochi) on Sunday.
I’d seen these pretty looking treats in a recent post by blogger Anisa and was inspire to have a go myself, particularly since my son is a fan of all things japanese. ‘Oh good, mochi’ he said when he saw the picture. (How does he know these things?)
So on Sunday I went to the back of the larder to retrieve a can of red aduki beans I knew was there somewhere (purchased to make chinese mooncakes – we are all still waiting) and proceeded to look up recipes for strawberry mochi. I found this very helpful website: justonecookbook which has recipes for making strawberry mochi and red bean paste.
However, I wasn’t starting with dried aduki beans, so I followed the idea rather than recipe. Firstly, I drained and washed the canned beans. Then I added the sugar (equal weight to the beans) and a pinch of salt to the beans in a pan. Next I boiled the mixture until it thickened like jam.
The mixture is ready when you can drag a spoon through it leaving a gap that takes ~2-3 seconds to fill in. Then I sieved it to make a smooth paste and this is the red bean paste, ready to use:
The strawberries are first coated with this sticky paste, then they need an outer, more solid layer.
So, the next stage of the plan was to make the snowy outer layer, a rice dough, but it turned out that there was a big problem. I didn’t have the right flour!
For japanese confectionery it has to be glutinous (or sweet) rice flour. Rice flour won’t do. None of our local supermarkets turn out to stock this, but you can order it online from places like The Asian Cookshop or Japan Centre. Too late for a Valentine treat though.
And that is how I came to make the chocolate covered strawberries. Instead of sweet rice dough, I tempered some 70% chocolate and dipped each red bean paste-coated strawberry in the mixture. Then I let them cool down and harden.
The good news is that it all worked out for a treat though. The red bean paste seemed to draw out the sweetness in what are often fairly watery, out-of-season strawberries. The chocolate was a good contrast to both flavours and wrapped an otherwise sticky item in a hard glossy shell. It was also a new thing to try, maybe even ‘fusion’ food?
Everyone loved them, so that was a thumbs up.
….. And next time I will have read the recipe in advance and purchased the correct ingredients. Then we might get to try some real Ichigo daifuku.