In ancient Japan, mochi was believed to be divinity incarnate, and was treated as sacred.
Mochi are mounded rice cakes or buns made with soft, glutinous rice. The rice is first steamed and then pounded and mashed into a dough. The resulting dough or mass of sticky rice mass is shaped, and then boiled or baked. Chewy and sticky, mochi needs to be chewed well before swallowing.
In ancient Japan, mochi was believed to be divinity incarnate, and was treated as sacred. It was eaten as a prayer for health and good fortune. Mochi is especially popular during Japanese New Year celebrations. It is used in many types of wagashi - the Japanese confections that are often paired with matcha. Here are 10 types:
Daifuku is big and soft, filled with sweetened red bean paste. Other fillings like strawberry are also common and the popular strawberry variation is called ichigo daifuku.
Pink in colour, sakura mochi is usually made and sold during spring for the cherry blossom viewing season in Japan. It is wrapped in an edible sakura blossom leaf.
Warabi mochi is different from traditional mochi as it is made with bracken starch instead of pounded rice. It has a gooey texture and jelly-like consistency.
Ohagi or bota mochi
Bota mochi is like an inside-out daifuku, with the red bean paste on the outside and the mochi ball on the inside. Its texture is different and it is eaten in the autumn.
Also called abekawa mochi, kinako mochi is sprinkled with kinako (soybean powder) and sugar. It is best enjoyed fresh and warm.
Isobe maki or isobe yaki is made by grilling pieces of mochi and then wrapping them in a sheet of nori. It is dipped in soy sauce and is also best when warm.
Kusa mochi translates to ‘grass mochi’. Made from yomogi (mugwort), it has a natural green colour. Kusa mochi has a leafy fragrance and is mainly sold during the spring.
Hanabira is Japanese for ‘flower petal’, and hence this mochi is shaped like a flower petal. A thin layer of translucent white mochi can be seen covering a red bean filling.
Technically not mochi, dango can still fall under the mochi category, because they are made with rice flour instead of rice. Dango drizzled with sweet soy sauce are called mitarashi dango.
Mochi ice cream
Similar to daifuku, these balls of mochi contain a filling. However, the filling is ice cream instead of sweetened red bean paste.