Daifuku is the name for a Japanese confection that consists of mochi, or sweet rice cakes, that have different kinds of fillings. One of the most popular is ichigo daifuku, or daifuku filled with fresh strawberry and sweet red bean paste. These mochi are soft and slightly chewy, with the distinct flavor of sweet red beans and a burst of fresh fruitiness from the strawberries. Serve these as a light dessert for a special occasion or sweet snack.
ICHIGO DAIFUKU: STRAWBERRY AND RED BEAN MOCHI [VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE]
FOR THE FILLING:
5.3 ounces sweet red bean paste (azuki an/anko)
6 fresh strawberries, hulled, washed, and dried
FOR THE MOCHI:
1/2 cup glutinous rice flour
2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons water
Tapioca starch or cornstarch, as needed
Divide the sweet red bean paste into 6 equal portions. Cover each of the strawberries with a portion of the paste. Try to make it as round as possible. Set aside.
Place glutinous rice flour and sugar in a microwaveable bowl. Pour water in three batches and mix well with a spatula, making sure to remove all the lumps, and until you get a homogenous batter.
Cover the bowl loosely with a saran wrap. Microwave on 600 Watts for 1 minute. Mix well with a wet spatula. The mixture will be still runny and floury.
Cover again with the saran wrap and microwave for the second time on 600 Watt for 1 minute. Mix well with a wet spatula. By now, the batter should start to really look like mochi, but the color should still be whitish and look floury.
Cover again and microwave for the last time. This time, it will be on 600 Watt for 45 seconds. If the mochi has a translucent texture, it is done.
Sift some tapioca starch/cornstarch onto a baking tray and place the mochi on top, taking care that the mochi (and the bowl) is still very hot.
With a spatula, fold the mochi in half (so it won’t be too sticky), then divide the mochi into 6 equal portions.
To assemble your ichigo daifuku, take a portion of the mochi and gently flatten and expand into a 3-inch diameter disc. Place one portion of the strawberry and red bean paste filling at the center of the mochi disc, then gather the mochi and pinch together to completely seal the filling. Gently shape the mochi to be as round as possible. Repeat for the rest of the mochi.
Mochi are best served immediately at room temperature, but it should keep well for a day or two maximum. Avoid putting them in the refrigerator.