Japanese dessert is like a whole new world to me. It’s not about kneading and baking anymore. It involves steaming and even pounding. I’m talking about mochi.
Mochi has been a popular Japanese treat for centuries. It is a chewy Japanese rice cake made from glutinous rice flour, also known as mochiko. The best part is that it’s gluten-free. The process of making mochi involves soaking, steaming, and pounding the glutinous rice until it becomes a smooth and elastic dough. If you come to Japan for their New Year celebrations, you’ll see the way they make mochi, which surprised me a lot.
There are different types of mochi. Traditional mochi is often plain, allowing its soft and chewy texture to shine. The other variations can be filled with sweet red bean paste, ice cream, or even savory ingredients like pickled plums.
Here are 15 types of mochi you should try:
Table of Contents
Daifuku is a popular type of mochi that combines the chewy texture of mochi with a sweet filling inside. Popular choices for the filling include sweetened red bean paste (anko), fresh fruit, ice cream, or even custard.
One of the most common types of daifuku is the traditional Ichigo Daifuku, which features a whole strawberry enveloped in sweet red bean paste and wrapped in a layer of mochi. You can check my Strawberry Mochi recipe here.
Daifuku is often enjoyed during celebrations and ceremonies, but its popularity has transcended cultural boundaries, making it a beloved treat for people around the world.
Unlike traditional mochi cake recipe, which is made from glutinous rice, Warabi Mochi is crafted from bracken starch, giving it a distinct chewy and jelly-like consistency. The translucent, smooth pieces are often dusted with kinako (roasted soybean flour) to enhance the taste.
The delightful combination of the chewy texture and nutty kinako coating creates a harmonious experience for the taste buds, making Warabi Mochi a beloved and unique delicacy in Japanese cuisine.
Sakura Mochi is typically enjoyed during the cherry blossom season. The mochi itself is made from glutinous rice, creating a chewy and slightly sticky texture that contrasts beautifully with the sweet red bean paste filling. What makes Sakura Mochi visually stunning is its pink-hued rice cake which is often wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf. This mochi type resembles cherry blossoms in full bloom – a gorgeous treat.
Translating to “flower petal mochi,” Hanabira Mochi has a soft, chewy mochi exterior and sweet fillings, such as red bean paste, fruit preserves, or sweetened chestnuts. The meticulous craftsmanship involved in shaping the mochi petals reflects the attention to detail and artistry in Japanese culinary traditions.
Botamochi, also known as Ohagi, is a dessert that is in contrast to Daifuku. The filling of this traditional confection is mochi while the exterior is often adorned with various coatings such as red bean paste, kinako (soybean flour), or sesame seeds. This type of mochi is closely associated with the changing seasons, particularly the arrival of autumn, and is a popular choice during the annual Higan Buddhist memorial services.
Kagami Mochi is a traditional Japanese New Year’s decoration and a treat that holds a special significance in Japanese culture. The type of mochi consists of two round mochi, one smaller than the other, stacked on top of each other and adorned with a bitter orange (daidai) or a leafy decoration.
The name “Kagami” translates to mirror, symbolizing the reflection on the past year and the anticipation of the coming one. Families often display Kagami Mochi in their homes during the New Year celebrations, and it is believed to invite good luck and ward off evil spirits.
Mochi Ice Cream
As the name suggests, this delectable type of mochi has a filling that is ice cream in various flavors, ranging from classic green tea (matcha) to exotic mango, cafe, or even decadent chocolate. This type of mochi has gained popularity globally for its innovative take on two beloved desserts.
To make Mochi Ice Crem, you just need to select your favorite ice cream flavors and let them soften slightly. Next, take small scoops of ice cream and encase them in rounds of sweet, sticky mochi dough.
Hishi Mochi is a delightful type of mochi. Its name, “hishi,” refers to the diamond shape it takes on, symbolizing good fortune and prosperity. This type of mochi is often enjoyed during special celebrations and festive occasions.
What makes Hishi Mochi truly unique is its diamond-shaped layers with 3 layers of different colors and flavors. Typically adorned with pink, white, and green hues, these layers symbolize good fortune, purity, and vitality.
Mizu Shingen Mochi
Mizu Shingen Mochi is the most visually appealing mochi type. Also known as “water cake” or “raindrop cake,” it’s a delicate and translucent dessert that resembles a droplet of water. Made from mineral water and agar, Mizu Shingen Mochi has a subtle sweetness and a texture that is wonderfully soft and gelatinous. It’s often served with kinako (soybean flour) and kuromitsu (black sugar syrup) to enhance the flavor.
Potato mochi is a delicious twist on the traditional Japanese rice cake, mochi. Instead of using glutinous rice, potato mochi incorporates mashed potatoes into the mixture, resulting in a chewy and slightly dense texture. The mashed potatoes are typically combined with glutinous rice flour, sugar, and water to form a dough, which is then shaped into small cakes or balls. These are often steamed, boiled, or pan-fried before serving.
This particular type of mochi stands out for its thin, delicate rice flour wrapper that enfolds a sweet filling, typically made with ingredients like cinnamon and sugar. The texture is soft and chewy, creating a harmonious contrast with the slightly crunchy exterior. Yatsuhashi Mochi is often enjoyed in two variations: baked for a crispier experience or raw for a more traditional, gooey delight.
Its distinct triangular shape pays homage to the famous Yatsuhashi bridge in Kyoto, adding a touch of cultural significance to every bite.
Kusa Mochi (Yomogi mochi)
Yomogi mochi is a delightful Japanese treat that combines the chewy texture of traditional mochi with the earthy and slightly bitter flavor of yomogi, or Japanese mugwort. The vibrant green hue of Yomogi Mochi distinguishes it from other types of mochi.
The mochi is often filled with sweet red bean paste, creating a harmonious balance of textures and sweetness. This type of mochi is often enjoyed during special occasions and festivals in Japan.
This type of mochi holds a special place in traditional celebrations, especially during the annual Children’s Day festival. It consists of sweet glutinous rice pounded into a chewy, smooth texture, enveloping a sweet red bean paste filling. What sets Kashiwa Mochi apart is the use of a real oak leaf for wrapping, symbolizing strength and vitality.
Kiri Mochi stands out for its simplicity and delicate flavor. Made from glutinous rice that is pounded into a smooth, elastic texture, Kiri Mochi is then cut into square or rectangular shapes. Its name, “Kiri,” translates to “cut” in Japanese, reflecting the method of preparation.
This type of mochi is often enjoyed in various ways, from grilling and topping it with soy sauce and nori for a savory twist to wrapping it around sweet red bean paste for a delightful dessert. Its subtle sweetness and chewy texture make Kiri Mochi a versatile treat that has found a special place in Japanese culinary traditions.
Last but not least – Akafuku. Originating from the historic city of Ise, Akafuku is a chewy rice cake made from glutinous rice. What sets Akafuku apart is its unique presentation, featuring a sweet red bean paste filling encased in a layer of smooth, soft mochi. The mochi is then dusted with a layer of fine, fragrant kinako (roasted soybean flour).
The world of mochi is a delightful journey through tradition and innovation. From classic Daifuku to daring flavors like Kashiwa Mochi or the water cake Mizu Shingen Mochi, these 15 types of mochi showcase the culinary artistry and joy that this Japanese treat brings.