I'm a fourth-generation Japanese American who was born and raised in a very “American” household, so most often, manju or daifuku was something that was more often bought than made. Fascinated by baking and pastries, I was always curious about how to make these delicate pastries. When I finally learned how to make daifuku, I was thrilled because I felt like I was reconnecting with my Japanese roots.
I learned how to make daifuku when I worked in the kitchen of Matsuhisa. This is something I would sometimes make side by side with the chef’s grandkids when they visited, since it was something easy and simple to make while keeping them entertained. It was a highlight of my night when they would come into the kitchen with their curiosity, joy, and dancing.
Fast-forward to today, where I have little motivation to do much especially with the weather getting warmer, when the thought of turning on an oven sounds like a terrible idea. I sifted through my recipes to see what would be suitable and when I received my CSA produce box from Azay - the strawberries reminded me of these good times.
In honor of Children’s Day, enjoy this kid-friendly recipe. It's one that doesn’t involve much equipment, and I hope that you can approach this with curiosity and joy alongside your children and family.
A hot tip: if you don't have time to make daifuku yourself, you can quickly grab some at Fugetsu-Do in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.
- Rolling pin
- 2 pieces of parchment paper or silicone sheets
- Round cookie cutter or large circular cutter (I used the rim of a cup)
Ingredients - Koshi-An
- 1 package of koshi-an (smooth red bean paste)
- Fresh strawberries
- 2/3 cups (75 g) glutinous rice flour (shiratamako)
- 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (120 g) water
- Corn starch
Ingredients - Daifuku Skin
- 2/3 cups (75g) glutinous rice flour (shiratamako)
- ½ cup (120g) water
- ½ cup (100g) sugar
- Corn starch/ potato starch
Koshi-An Covered Strawberries:
- Clean and dry strawberries, then cut off tops and hull the strawberries.
- Create a small ball of koshi-an, place the strawberry in the center, and cover strawberries.
- Place in fridge while you make the daifuku skins.
- In a bowl, whisk the glutinous rice flour and water together.
- Add sugar and whisk and ensure that all ingredients are wet.
- Transfer the dough into a microwavable bowl and microwave for about 1 minute, mix, and cook again for 1 minute. Keep alternating and mixing until dough is sticky or translucent.
- Use two silicone sheets or parchment papers and cover generously with corn starch. This will prevent the dough from sticking.
- Place hot dough on one of the starch covered sheets, sprinkle starch on top of dough, and then sandwich dough with the other sheet on top.
- Spread the dough evenly and thin with a rolling pin across the sheets. Should be a 1/4 inch thick.
- Place dough in the refrigerator and leave until cold. It is easier to shape and handle when cold.
- Remove dough from refrigerator and cut into round circles. I used the rim of a cup to cut rounds but depending on the size of the strawberry, you may have to experiment on the circle size to cover the strawberry entirely. Eat the excess trim as a snack!
- Take one of the circular rounds, place the koshi-an covered strawberry in the center of the round, and start covering from all sides. When all sides meet at the bottom of the strawberry, pinch and twist to neatly seal the strawberry.
- If the daifuku dough starts to stick to your hands or surface, lightly dust with corn starch/ potato starch.
- If you want to know the difference between mochiko flour and shiratamako flour, I found this blog post helpful. I use this brand of glutinous rice flour and I easily find it my local Asian market, but if you purchase a coarse shiratamako you will have to run it through a food processor to make a fine powder. I have yet to try making this recipe with mochiko flour - I enjoy making it with the flour I have.
- In terms of how many this recipe makes, all is determined by the size of your strawberries. Nature is a wonderful thing and you can't always control it!