I know what you are thinking right now is today Friday or did my birthday come early this year. No both are wrong (unless you are reading this on a Friday then you are correct. This was written on a Sunday for future reference) You know what they say about “The best laid plans of mice and man…” Sometimes on the road of life leads you to unexpected paths. This is one of those journeys, one that will take me further than I ever traveled before.
Ever since I was little, I always had a fascination with learning different languages and about different cultures. The one in particular that always stood out to me was Japan. I grew up watching shows like Dragonball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho and even Sailor Moon. That’s right; I am not ashamed to admit that I did watch Sailor Moon. The fascination with those shows lead me to want to learn more about the country as well as learn their language, so I took several Japanese language courses both in college and on line. Eventually I would love to travel to Japan and visit both the traditional locations as well as the modern cities. Unfortunately that will take a lot of money and until I save enough I needed to think of another plan. What better way to experience a culture than to sample some of their foods and thinking back to all of the anime I watched the desserts always looked delicious. For those who do not know what I am talking about here is a youtube video to show you some excellent desserts that appear in the shows.
Now that I had a vision on what to do, I needed to find a way to make my vision a reality and I did that by searching the internet for Japanese dessert and what came up first was a link for Daifuku with strawberry inside. The recipe that I used had you make red bean paste and wrap the paste around the strawberry. After you did that you wrap the paste in mochi. The first thing that I noticed was that when I searched for Japanese desserts this came up, but the video and recipe is written in what a believe to be Thai. So I have a recipe with in a recipe and the recipe is written in a different language. The recipe that I used can be found here Something tells me that there will be many potholes in the road of this journey for me to trip in.
For the first part of this journey I started with the red bean paste. This step took the longest to complete, but it was also very enjoyable. It took almost a day to make the paste, you started with the solid beans and let them soak for eight hours. After soaking them they had to be cooked for another hour to an hour and a half. This is where I made my first mistake; I set the timer for 90 minutes and then walked away. I would check on it periodically but I got distracted toward the end of the cooking process and came back to beans that were burnt to the bottom of the pot. After cooking the beans I then blended them up and cooked them again turning into paste. This part seemed like it took forever and with this part you had to stay there and continuously stir the mixture. It was almost like going from a solid to a liquid back to a solid paste again.
Working with the paste was a little annoying because it was very sticky, but I put a pair of plastic food handler gloves on and it was much easier to work with the paste. After the strawberries were securely tucked in there sweet red cocoon it was time to move onto the mochi.
This was the opposite experience of the red bean paste. This was very quick and easy to make, but to mold and shape it around the paste was very difficult and troublesome. After adding all the dry ingredients and the water together it looks like something that came out of the movie The Exorcist.
On a side note it is green because of some green tea powder that I used in the mix. After taking it out of the microwave it has formed an odorless jelly. Cutting the blob down to 12 mini blobs was kind of fun, but this next part was where the nightmare kicked in. Trying to get the mochi around the bean paste ball was like trying to put a child who just had a ton of candy to bed. The challenge was that the flour that prevented the mochi from sticking to everything around it also prevented me from closing it around the paste. Here are some pictures of the finished product
This journey was a long one, normally it only takes about 2 to 3 hours for me to make my dessert, and this took me almost the entire day. Overall I enjoyed this recipe, the texture is an interesting one, but the taste is amazing. The sweetness of the paste and the strawberry is nicely balanced by the bitterness of the green tea powder. The journey might have been long, but it was very rewarding. Between the lessons I learned and the new places I found to shop at will definitely affect my future baking habits for the better as I hope that they will help you too. I provided the link to this recipe earlier in this post, please let me know in the comments if you have tried this recipe or any other that are similar to it. Thank you for reading this and taking this lengthy journey with me. As always remember to never stop learning and to always stay hungry.