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What the Mochi?

Issue 03

The literal translation of daifuku is “great luck”; it is also the formal name for the more commonly used Mochi Ballsa Japanese treat served with tea. Daifuku are made of pounded glutinous rice cakes (mochi) and stuffed with a filling or paste.  There are four basic components to daifuku: Sweet rice flour (mochiko), sugar, water plus a filling of your choice.  Traditional mochi balls are stuffed with red (adzuki) bean or Japanese mugwort (yomogi), but these days, it seems the variety of shapes, colours and flavours have exploded; some mochi balls are even filled with ice cream.

From a texture perspective, these palm-sized balls are delicate, soft, and have a marshmallow-like, chewiness.  Mochi tends to be a bit sticky.  To prevent them from sticking to each other, the balls are rolled or dusted with a powder or seed such as potato starch, green tea (matcha) powder, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder or sesame seeds

Try serving mochi balls on a cake stand, a decorative platter or in little ceramic dishes next time you have guests over.  Just remember, they are quite filling so all you need is two or three per person.


Mochitsuki: An all day, labourious Japanese New Year tradition, where friends and family gather to transform sweet glutinous rice and pound it into mochi.

Wagashi: The name of the major category of traditional Japanese confectionery which is served with tea.  Wagashi date back to the Edo period in Japan and are linked to Kyoto, the city where they got their start.  They are made from plant based ingredients, and can be seasonally driven by flavour and appearance. Wagashi are intricately designed to evoke the five senses and are open to artistic manipulation due to the malleability of mochi (think of wagashi as the equivalent of marzipan).  Daifuku is a type of wagashi.

Mochi: Glutinous rice that has been pounded into a glutinous rice cake.

Mochiko: A type of sweet rice flour.

01 Taro Mochi Ball
Countlan Issue 03 Mochi Balls

02 Sesame Mochi Ball

03 Peanut butter Mochi Ball

04 Green Tea Matcha Mochi Ball

Countlan Issue 03 Mochi Balls

Don’t forget to serve them with tea!


Here are a few of our favourite shops to stock up on mochi balls around the world:

Benkyodo (San Francisco)
Minamoto Kitchoan  (Tokyo, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, London, Singapore)
Sing Tehus (Copenhagen)

Where do you go for mochi?

Get Mochi-ing with these Recipes:

One Response to “What the Mochi?”

  1. [...] for you, I hope our pseudo primer on this lovable,round Japanese dessert titled the “What the Mochi?” was helpful.  You can read it here or here.   Now that mochi is permanently on my radar [...]

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