Mochi is a famous sugary treat in Japan that is slowly gaining popularity all around the world. It’s available in a wide variety of flavors, colors, and sizes and traditionally is eaten with a filling in the center.
What is the difference between daifuku and mochi? Mochi is a Japanese dessert traditionally made from rice starch, sometimes colored or with interior fillings. Daifuku is a traditional type of stuffed mochi made with a filling of adzuki, which is a paste made from red beans (and sometimes sugar.)
Read below to learn more about daifuku and mochi, how they are made, how to eat them, and some famous mochi varieties!
What Are Mochi And Daifuku?
Mochi is a dough-like dessert that is traditionally made from rice starch, sugar, salt, and food colorings.
Mochi can be mixed and matched with a lot of different fillings and colors to create new variations.
One such variation is called daifuku, which is also the Japanese word for “good luck.” So, mochi and daifuku are pretty similar!
The origin of this dessert is unknown, but many people believe that it was first invented in China. It then made its way through other countries before it was popularized in Japan.
Mochi has been linked to several traditions and superstitions, but this dessert holds a special place in the hearts of local foodies and is one of the best light snacks or desserts that you can have after a meal.
This dessert is also used as a topping in many dessert recipes, and can be added on top of ice cream, cereal, frozen yogurt, and more!
You can find mochi year round, and it is usually sold in many shops across Japan. Nowadays you can also find mochi in North America and other regions around the world.
How is Mochi Made?
Mochi is made in the same way as rice paper. To make this dessert, you have to start with a rice slurry – but not just any rice! The rice of choice for mochi is always glutinous rice.
Glutinous rice is perfect for mochi because it has a low amylose content. This means that when cooked, the rice becomes particularly sticky.
If you cook and mash this rice to a point, you end up with a liquid slurry of sticky rice that can be molded in different ways.
But how does it set?
Well, just like rice paper, after the slurry has been mixed with salt, sugar, and other additives, it is then scooped and spread over a steaming pot.
The pot simply boils water and creates steam. The rice mixture sits above the pot using a steamer tray with parchment paper lined at the bottom to prevent leakage.
The mochi is cooked for about 35-45 minutes and is then cut into small pieces. These pieces are then further rolled into flat balls.
Now, at this stage, the mochi is already ready. You can eat it as is or add a bit of glaze, honey, or maple syrup (virtually any syrup or flavorings) and enjoy!
However, to make daifuku, you will need to add a filling of sweetened (or savory) red bean paste!
A tablespoon of the paste is added to the center of the flat mochi which is then folded around the filling to trap it inside.
Dust the mochi with some rice flour or sugar and you will have made daifuku!
Want to watch a traditional mochi master at work? Check out this video from Great Big Story on YouTube. Make sure to read the captions — and have your sound on!
Differences Between Mochi And Daifuku
Now that we know that daifuku is a traditional way of making and eating mochi, it’s time that we learn what makes each variation unique!
Keep in mind: not all mochi are daifuku (unless they are made a certain way), but all daifuku are mochi — it’s just made using different fillings.
We have already talked about how traditional mochi is made, but there are several nuanced variations to daifuku.
Here are all of the different characteristics of mochi and daifuku!
Mochi is a very simple, sweet snack. It provides a mild flavor with sweeter undertones. The gelatinous rice used to make mochi also helps add a sweet and starchy flavor.
There are literally thousands of variations of mochi. Some people add color to the mixture, which adds vibrancy – but the flavor remains the same.
Mochi can be paired with a variety of ingredients — while most people prefer to eat it as a dessert, you can also add meat-based fillings to it! Although this is rare, it does say a lot about the versatility and range of this wonderful treat.
Before we describe the flavor of daifuku, we need to set the record straight: Daifuku is traditionally made with mochi and a red bean paste filling, but it can also be made using a wide range of other fillings (like black sesame).
This means that the flavor of daifuku will never be constant and can change in many ways!
For example, a “mango mochi” can also be a type of daifuku, but it all comes down to terminology and preferences. You might find places that sell “center-filled” mochis which are not termed as daifuku — and vice versa.
The traditional flavor of daifuku is either sweet or savory with hints of sweetness. Keep in mind that the red bean paste filling inside can be either sweetened or served as it is.
If you try the sweetened version, the daifuku will present with a predominately sweet flavor, but an unsweetened daifuku will be savory with a bit of sugar in the mix.
Mochi is usually chewy, but very tender – perhaps the best explanation of its texture would be if you compared it to a very soft gummy bear.
You can bite into a mochi with ease, and depending on how it was made, it can have slight variations in its texture.
Mochi made with mashed gelatinous rice will be slightly chewier and will have a more textured mouthfeel due to the manual refinement of the rice which is prone to human error and other inconsistencies.
On the other hand, a mochi made using rice starch will have a much different mouthfeel. Rice starch is used to make a fully homogenized slurry, which is cooked evenly and can be much more tender than a manually refined slurry.
Most people prefer the traditional texture of mochi, which is made using mashed rice, but you can get away with using either method since the difference is so nuanced.
Daifuku provides multiple layers of textures. The first noticeable texture comes from the mochi itself, followed by whatever filling is inside the mochi.
Red bean paste provides a hearty and grainy texture – but the interesting thing is that both of these textures work so well that you will hardly notice the subtle texture of each ingredient!
The red bean paste itself can be customized according to preferences. Some people prefer to have a smooth red bean paste, while others might mash or leave large chunks of the beans in the paste.
So, depending on the type of filling, you can experience a wide range of textures when eating daifuku!
|Flavor||Sweet with more complex flavors due to fillings.||Sweet and starchy flavor (without added syrups or garnish).|
|Texture||Multi-textured. Chewy, soft, tender, and grainy (with paste filling).||Chewy and tender. Gummy bear-like texture.|
|Variety||Made primarily with sweetened or non-sweetened red bean paste. Can also be made with other fillings.||Can have different colors and fillings. Paired with a wide variety of sweeteners.|
|Cooking Method||Made using mashed rice or rice powder. Cooked via steaming.||Made using mashed rice or rice powder. Cooked via steaming.|
How To Make Mochi And Daifuku
Since daifuku and mochi are made with mostly the same ingredients, we will cover both! Here are some easy, fool-proof methods for making authentic daifuku and mochi at home.
- ¾ cup glutinous rice flour
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup rice flour or potato starch
- (optional) organic and non-flavored food dyes
- In a bowl, mix the rice flour and sugar. Whisk carefully and then slowly add in the measured water while mixing.
- Gradually add the remaining water until the mixture is homogenous and clear. You should not have any lumps in the rice slurry. If you do see lumps, break them down using the whisk.
Optional Step) If you want to be creative or festive, we recommend adding food color during this step. Always go with organic and non-flavored food dyes for the best experience!
- Boil water in a large steamer pot and let it steam.
- Move the rice and sugar mixture into a heat-proof bowl and carefully place the bowl inside the steamer. You can also add parchment paper to the base of the steamer and then pour the slurry directly over it, but the bowl method is neater and more convenient.
- Steam the slurry for about 7 minutes with the lid on and then take off the lid and agitate the slurry using a spatula. Mix it around for 1-2 minutes and then continue steaming with the lid on for an additional 7 minutes.
- Carefully remove the hot bowl and set it aside. Congratulations, you have created mochi!
Now that we’ve made our mochi, let’s go a step further and make some daifuku!
- ¾ cup glutinous rice flour
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup rice flour or potato starch
- 1½ cup red bean paste
- Generously dust a work surface with rice flour.
- Pour out the mochi onto the work surface and then dust additional rice flour over the mochi.
- Use a rolling pin to thin out the mochi. You don’t have to make it paper thin; a medium-size thickness (1-2 inches) should be enough to make daifuku.
- Use a round cookie cutter or any round mold to cut out circles from the flattened mochi.
- Carefully pick up each circle and brush off the excess starch using a small cooking brush. We will be making one mochi at a time using this method.
- Take a spoonful of adzuki and place it at the center of the mochi circle. If you don’t have time to make red bean paste at home then you can use this perfect pre-made red bean paste!
- Now bring each corner of the mochi over and pinch it together. You should start by pinching the left and right of the circle and then the top and bottom. By now, the mochi will look like a dumpling.
- Pinch the remaining sides of the mochi until you fully enclose the filling. Please be mindful of the quantity of the filling. If you use a lot, then you might end up tearing the mochi — and too little filling will not make for a tasty daifuku!
- Dust the sealed/pinched area with just a bit of potato or rice starch.
- Place the prepared daifuku in a paper cupcake mold for presentation and repeat the steps above for the remaining mochi circles!
Other Cooking Methods
There are several alternate cooking methods for daifuku and mochi. The most popular and highly convenient option is to microwave the rice slurry mixture until it turns into mochi.
Microwaved mochi can be used to make daifuku — and the best part is that if this method is done the right way, you will not feel any textural difference between the steaming and microwave methods!
This is perfect for people who don’t want to deal with a double boiler or for people who do not have a steamer at home.
To make mochi using the microwave method, start by making the slurry using the same steps mentioned above. Now, instead of steaming the prepared slurry, move the contents into a microwave-safe bowl and loosely place a lid over it.
Microwave the mixture for one minute at the highest setting then carefully take out the bowl and mix the slurry using a wet spatula.
Put the mixture back in the microwave and continue heating for another minute. Take out the bowl and mix it again with a wet spatula and then cook it for one final minute – voila, you have successfully created mochi.
Now, spread the mochi using a rolling pin and make daifuku as stated in our recipe above!
Mochi and daifuku are both delicious treats that share the same foundation (you guessed it — mochi). Now that you know all about each treat, here are some related questions.
Can daifuku be fried?
Yes, daifuku can be fried. Since it is made from rice, the mochi surrounding the filling will expand and puff up. This will give the daifuku a crispy exterior and a soft interior!
Before making daifuku, the mochi can also be colored using flavorless food coloring, which will add presentation points and will make the puffed-up daifuku more attractive during special occasions.
Are daifuku and mochi gluten-free?
Both daifuku and mochi are traditionally made from rice flour or mashed rice, which means that both treats are gluten-free. But you should be wary of the many variations available for each food.
Since mochi is a highly versatile treat, it can be prepared in many ways. Daifuku in particular needs to be checked for dietary restrictions since it can be made from a range of different fillings – or even dusted with flour.
What do mochi and daifuku pair with?
Mochi and daifuku can be paired with virtually any type of fruit or syrup. Since both of these treats have a mildly sweet flavor on their own, they make for perfect “vessels” that can carry any type of flavoring.
We recommend topping daifuku with sliced strawberries, chocolate syrup, or a simple drizzle of sweetened heavy cream or condensed milk!