Let’s celebrate the beautiful Sakura cherry blossom spring season in Japan right now with this pretty Japanese confectionery Sakura Mochi. This mochi is so pretty in pink matching the cherry blossom flower color and it is wrapped with a cherry blossom leaf. Let’s make two different Sakura Mochi!
What is Sakura Mochi (桜餅)?
It is a type of Japanese sweet made from pink-colored mochi rice cakes filled with sweet azuki bean paste called “Anko” or “An” and are usually wrapped with salted sakura leaves. And because the soft pink color mochi resembles a sakura flower, Sakura mochi is often made and eaten at this time of the year to celebrate girls’ day “Hinamatsuri” and the cherry blossom season.
Varieties of Sakura Mochi
In fact, Sakura mochi differs from the region of Japan. I am from the Kansai region and this is the type of Sakura mochi which I grew up with. It is also called “Dōmyōji Mochi” where the red bean paste is wrapped with mochi made with Dōmyōji flour. In the Kanto region (like Tokyo), however, sweet red bean paste is wrapped with something a little bit like a crepe. Both the Kansai and Kanto types are wrapped with salted cherry blossom leaves.
What Main Ingredients do I Need for Kansai Style?
Making it authentically, we need Domyoji-ko(道明寺粉), ‘Anko’ sweet azuki bean paste, and cherry blossom leaves and flower. However, I understand that when most of us live outside of Japan certain ingredients are hard to get. So we need to be creative to just make Japanese things with the available ingredients, for instance, “Umeboshi”
What is Dōmyōji-ko
Dōmyōji-ko is steamed glutinous rice that is dried and made into coarsely crushed rice flour. This type of rice flour is not readily available outside of Japan, so I made a similar version by myself from a very sticky type of rice called ‘sweet rice’ though it is not sweetened rice.
The glutinous rice needs to be soaked in a bowl of water overnight or a minimum of 1 hour if you are in a hurry(process photo 1). Then the soaking water is drained and pulsed a few times in a food processor to crush the rice grain coarsely(process photo 2 & 3).
Where do we Get the Rest of the Main Ingredients for Sakura Mochi?
The next main ingredient is “Anko” the red(azuki) bean paste. You can buy ready-made sweet red bean paste to make Anko balls from Asian or Japanese grocery stores. However, Anko can be made easily from scratch following my sweet red bean paste recipe. Salted Sakura Cherry Leaf, and salted cherry flower are available online.
How to Make Sakura Mochi?
It is relatively easy to make, though you need to start to prepare a night before. You need to make Anko balls (sweet red bean paste made into balls) a day before, and also start to soak the rice the night before.
Drain the rice soaked, and blitz it in a food processor. Then steam the rice for about 30 minutes(Process photo 5 & 6). You can tell when the rice grain color becomes transparent. While the rice is being steamed, prepare the pink-colored sweet water(Process photo 9 & 10). When steaming the rice is complete, transfer the rice into the pink colored water to soak(Process photo 11 & 12).
Assemble All Together
Divide the rice into 6 portions. Place 1/6 of the cooked rice on cling wrap syrup brushed(Process photo 16). Flatten the rice into a round shape with a spatula (Process photo 17). Place one of the Anko balls on the center and wrap the Anko ball with rice(Process photo 18 & 19). Remove the cling wrap and wrap it with a sakura leaf(Process photo 20). Wrap the way the leaf vein becomes outside, which is prettier. Or top with a sakura flower bud.
Q1. Can we eat sakura leaves and flowers?
A: The unique fragrance of Sakura Mochi comes from the scent of coumarin contained in the salted leaves. You can eat cherry leaves with caution not eating excessively. The Japanese Wagashi Association recommends not to eat sakura leaves. So in short, it is just for fragrance.
Q2. How long does mochi last and can you freeze them?
It will last for 1-2 days at room temperature. You can wrap them individually with cling wrap and place them in a ziplock freezer bag. You can keep them for a month in the freezer. Thaw them naturally at room temperature when ready to eat.
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- 1cup/200g glutinous rice *1
- 1/2cup 100ml water
- 1/4cup/50g sugar
- 1 tsp beatroots juice *2
Sugar syrup for shaping mochi
- 1/2 tsp gelatine leaf Or 1/2 gelatine leaf 1.2 x 1.2 inch (3cm x 3cm)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/8 cup sugar
Assembling Sakura Mochi
- 3 salted sakura flower buds
- 3 salted sakura leaves
Steaming the Rice
- Wash and soak the rice in 2 cups of water (not listed in the ingredients list) overnight. *3
- Also if you are going to make Anko from scratch, make anko paste a night before too. *4
- After the rice is soaked overnight, drain the rice and pulse the rice a few times in a food processor.
- Steam the rice for 30 minutes over medium heat. *5
While the rice is being steamed prepare Sakura flower, Leaves, Pink coloured water & syrup
- Soak the sakura flower and leaves in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. *6
- Scoop the flower onto a paper towel and tap dry with paper towel and set aside.
- Divide the anko (red bean paste) into 6 balls (20g each) and set aside.
- Place the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring it to boil to dissolve the sugar. Add the beetroot juice and stir. Transfer the sugar water to a large bowl and set aside.
- Make the sugar syrup for shaping by putting all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to simmer. When the gelatine has dissolved, turn the heat off.
Assembling the Sakura mochi
- Add the steamed rice to the large bowl with pink colored sugary water. Stir the rice with a wooden spatula to let the rice absorb the pink coloured sugar water.
- Divide the rice into six equal portions.
- Brush some cling wrap sheet with the sugar syrup and place 1/6 of steamed rice and flatten the rice with a spatula.
- Place a red bean paste ball in the centre. Wrap it with cling wrap to shape it and cover the red bean paste ball with rice.
- Remove the cling wrap and wrap with sakura leave, the side you can see vein out.
- Repeat the same for the rest. Three wrapping with sakura leaves and three decorated with the sakura flowers on top.
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