For our June challenge, the 4 Velveteers (Aparna, Alessio, Asha & I) picked Mint and a seasonal fruit or vegetable (we settled on that because all 4 of us reside in different parts of the world so seasonal fruits/vegetables differs from continent to continent). For me, mint doesn’t pose a lot of problem now as I have learnt to use it in some dishes ever since I live in France. Now if I was still living in Singapore, that would be a different story for mint is not very much used (or none at all) in Chinese cooking or dessert. At the start of this month challenge, I had in mind different ideas about what to do with mint and fruits or vegetable but in the end, somehow I got swayed to making Ichigo daifuku, a Japanese dessert. Ichigo what? I hear you. Don’t worry, full explanation below. Don’t ask me how that came about for I still have no idea. It just popped up in my head one day and refused to go away until I made this dessert. OK, now let me introduce this infamous Japanese dessert, mochi.
Mochi is a Japanese dessert made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape. Traditionally, it is made and eaten during Japanese New Year but these days it can be eaten all year-round. This dessert is very popular in Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Hong-Kong, Thailand etc. There are many different types of mochi sold, for example:
- Daifukumochi or Daifuku (means “great luck”), is a small round mochi stuffed with sweet filling, like anko (sweet red bean paste). It exists in many varieties but the most common is white, pale green or pale pink colored mochi. It is also covered in a fine layer of cornflour to keep them from sticking to each other.
- Ichigo daifuku is a variation of daifuku containing strawberry and sweet filling (usually sweet red bean paste). In my case, I gave it a little twist by adding green tea (matcha) and mint flavour to the mochi envelopping it with a strawberry dipped in chocolate (Nutella more precisely). Below is an adapted recipe from Little Corner of Mine who adapted the recipe from LeeLee.
Mochi (Mint Green Tea with Strawberry & Nutella)
- 1 cup (160 g) glutinous rice flour
- 1/2 tsp green tea powder (for baking)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 180 ml hot water
- a few mint leaves
- a packet of strawberries
- glorious, precious Nutella
- Cornstarch for dusting (microwave cornstarch for 2 mins, let it cool completely before using – optional)
- Soak the mint leaves in the hot water for 5 – 10 minutes. Take out the leaves and let the water cool to room temperature.
- Combine flour, green tea powder and sugar together in a big bowl. Then add in the water and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Cover with a microwavable film wrap and microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. Remove and stir well. Return to microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir-well and check if it is cooked (done). If not, put it back for another 30 seconds, be careful not to burn it.
- Flour a big plate with some cornstarch. Dip your spoon with a bit of cornflour, then scoop a ball of mochi and drop it on the plate. Cover it with some cornflour.
- Flatten it with your palms and spread it out into a big circle. If it sticks to your hands, flour your hands with a little cornflour.
- Put a drop of nutella in the middle of the mochi, top it with a small strawberry. Wrap the filling inside like a dumpling and shape into a ball. Continue to do the same with the rest of the mochi.
- Now it is ready to serve with tea or fresh beverages.
This is a surprising dessert for most westerners as the mochi is soft and chewy, a far cry from cakes found around Europe and North America. The combination of strawberry and Nutella is actually pretty nice with a minty green tea taste. I also made some with just Nutella filling. Little One loves both version. This mochi is so soft and melt in your mouth that it’s quite addictive – I kept eating them while making my Ichigo daifuku.
The original recipe said to microwave the mixture for 2 minutes at 800 watts but mine was cooked by 2 minutes. It could be that my microwave oven is higher than 800 watts (I thought). So I would suggest to try it at 1 minute 30 seconds first and proceed another 30 seconds until it is cooked.
I don’t know if it is true or not but it is said that the green tea for baking is more fragrant and green in colour than the drinking matcha type. I didn’t have any of the baking type in my pantry and I just used the normal matcha I have on hand. And I didn’t use spoon, just pinch a bit off and roll it into a ball. It’s a bit sticky so make sure your coat your fingers/hands with some cornflour.
As for the filling, you can put any filling you wish – it can be ice cream, ground peanuts, jams, fruits, palm sugar, sweet shredded coconut etc. If you want just plain mochi flavour, just omit mint and matcha (green tea).
The 4 Velveteers
The 4 Velveteers (as we called ourselves) host a monthly event that explores food/cuisine and share our recipes, experiences and verdicts on our blogs. Every month will be a surprise – we never know what we’ll make next. So if you’re interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment and we will get back to you.
Do check out what the other Velveteers have come up with:
* Aparna created Apple Tomato & Grilled Paneer Salad
* Asha created Potato Frittata with Garlic Scape and Mint
* Alessio created Flat Chinese peach salad with cherries, mint and a sesame butterscotch sauce