IMBB 11: strawberry and persimmon daifuku

IMBB 11 is here, hosted by cathy, and the theme is beans, beans, beans. my entry: the japanese sweet daifuku.

azuki, a small, red bean, with a sweet, nutty flavour, has been grown in asia for centuries, probably originating in china. it is commonly used in confectionery items here in asia, and found in everything from sweet soups to baked goods. while the concept may be wholly foreign to westerners, azuki makes a wonderful sweet--it is rich and heavy, so it provides a depth beyond sugar sweetness, but it is low in fat and full of fiber so arguably it is better for you than a dessert filled with dairy products or refined flours. in terms of flavour and texture, i can only think chestnut paste or purée as similar.


in japan, the beans are cooked with sugar, and then either used whole (anko) or puréed into a chunky paste (tsubushi-an), or a smooth paste (koshi-an). anko is simple to make. this is a basic recipe (i prefer using palm sugar instead of refined white). it is this sweet bean that is the basis for many japanese confections. it is used as a filling for steamed buns or baked cakes, as a topping for ice creams and fruit salad, or mixed with jellies or ice and milk.

ichigo daifuku
ichigo daifuku

i decided to use this bean paste in daifuku (die-foo-koo), a glutinous sweet rice (mochi) cake with a filling, usually the smooth azuki paste (koshi-an). sometimes other things are added, like fresh fruit, chestnuts, sesame seeds or even peanut butter. one of my favourites is ichigo daifuku, or strawberry mochi cake. i don't really appreciate koshi-an, and usually there's way too much of it and not enough strawberry, so i made this with a barely mashed scant tablespoonful of anko, wrapped around a monstrous large korean strawberry, then covered with mochi, which i made using this handy-dandy microwave method. it is then rolled in katakuriko (potato starch) to alleviate the surface stickiness.

persimmon daifuku

i also made a persimmon variety, since semi-dried persimmons are in the market. these are much softer than dried ones, and the texture is similar to a sticky, concentrated jelly. i cut each persimmon in half, filled it with a teaspoonful of anko, pinched it into a closed ball and then wrapped it in mochi.

i love the mix of textures--the soft, sticky mochi and the slightly chunky, chewy beans with the cool, cellulose-y flesh of the fruit. the flavours of the ichigo daifuku are especially pleasing, as the sweet beans somehow manage to make the strawberry tarter and sweeter at the same time, and the mochi, while bland, carries the flavours over, prolonging the little bit of summertime that a good strawberry (or good ichigo daifuku) manages to convey.


This sounds old yet new! I can only imagine how this tastes!

We definitely sweeten our beans. Our halo-halo has beans. We have sweetened garbanzons for dessert, bochi (mochi) and a lot more.

I lived in Japan for 6 months and went crazy for azuki beans! I had anko icecream, sweet buns stuffed with it, anko-filled omochi, canned drinks with azuki bits floating in them...

Now in the frozen shores of the Norwegian coast, i don't come across these beans very often, but there's an asian food shop about an hour away from my house, and i do sometimes find it there.

Reading your posting was a nostalgic, mouth-watering experience. Thank you!

hi karen

how are you? i was going to do a post on halo-halo but ungch, i forgot to freeze water for the ice shaver! maybe tomorrow. although, if you only have two ingredients, is it still halo-halo? for imbb, i toyed with the idea of making mongo hopia, but i don't know how to make the pastry--is it a hot water crust or a lard thing? so many questions for you :-)

hello marino

thank you for stopping by! i do love azuki beans. my absolute favourite thing with anko is dorayaki, the little pancake sandwich kind with the chunky bean paste. i have been making frozen anko and milk popsicles, but i think i might add strawberries as they are really quite sweet and readily available right now.
i don't know if you are a cooking kind of person, but anko is very easy to make, and you can freeze it for later use. of course, discovery and longing are often part of any item's delectability, so maybe it's better that it's not so readily available :-)

Hi Santos - these are so beautiful and they're something I seriously want to try. I hadn't heard of them until this IMBB - actually I'm finding there are many things I hadn't heard of! Thanks so much for participating!

Hi Santos..my first time here.Lovely blog, and your IMBB feature convinced me that it's time I discover Japanese desserts. Yummy! :)

When I first heard about ichigo daifuku in Japan, I thought it was the craziest idea. But when I tried it, I just loved it. The strawberry added some refreshing flavor to the combination of anko and mochi. It was amazing!
You did a wonderful job making them, and the photos are marvelous! (How could you slice those soft and sticky mochi so nicely?) I’ve never seen such an easy recipe to make anko before. Looks like we go through a bit more complicated procedures here in Japan, but I’m not sure because I always buy anko from the store ;P

That's it, I have to go to Japan and try these - or maybe Guam? Looks wonderful and exotic Santos!

hi cathy--thanks for hosting imbb! you've picked a popular theme, so that's lots of work for you, but it's great to see how many variations on a theme everyone's come up with.

hi annalyn--thanks for stopping by; i have to say i haven't been able to drop in on your blog as much as i'd like--there are so many pinoy blogs to visit these days. i grew up eating mostly chinese and filipino desserts, it's nice to explore japanese sweets right now. i'm discovering new things too!

hello obachan--the secret for slicing the soft mochi was freezing it a little. horrible for eating, but it looks good for the photo. normally i would buy anko, too, but i couldn't find the kind i like, so i made some a couple weeks ago, and i've been keeping it in a jar in the refrigerator.

hi zarah! reid and a bunch of other people say that the best mochi is at two ladies kitchen in hilo, hawaii. chika's there, too--maybe we should just go there? ;-)

Hi Santos,

Your ichigo daifuku looks great! I would never try to make something like this at home. It's much more convenient to go out and buy it. The ichigo daifuku at Two Ladies Kitchen is the best that I've tried only because it isn't so sweet. I also like it because they use air flown strawberries from California. The strawberries are huge (and so are the daifuku), but at about $3 each, they can be a bit pricey.


Wow, what a coincidence for both of us to think of daifuku for the IMBB#11. I love your photos of the daifuku, and you shaped them so perfectly. I am sure you will like the mame daifuku too, although I agree I like the fresh strawberry taste with the anko. Thanks also for giving me the idea of using persimmon in daifuku, will definitely try it.

Hi Santos,

Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! I love all those luscious close-up shots especially. Just wondering, how do you get that perfect lighting?

Hi Santos, leave it to you to come up with something so unique and georgeous ;) I've never tried daifuku either. Now I'll have to make a point of finding some when I go to CA in the summer. I know I won't find it here in NC :(

Hi Santos,

What a fantastic entry, and your photos look beautiful!


Oh, am in Santa Rita now. The aunties are here. I think my mom and one auntie ate at your new house at lunch. I didn't even ask what they had, they might never had finished enumerating. :-)

Yes, I think you can have halo-halo with just two ingredients but those are haleang ube and leche flan, no beans there. I wonder though if you can make haleang balatong, like the mochi filling. Sounds good to me.

As for the hopia, I haven't really baked any but from the texture of the wrapper, it could be cold pastry, 'no? The good ones I've had are almost like filo.

Am I seeing you soon? :-)

hey reid--i told cathy i was worried we would do the same thing :-) i decided to make my own because i can't always get ichigo daifuku here and there's always too much koshian and not enough strawberry. i like it so much better with the whole beans. you should try it sometime!

hi lynn--i was worried reid and i would do the same thing, but instead we've done similar ones! that's great, though--i've learned a lot from your technique and ingredients. i'll definitely try the shiratamako next time. you mentioned in your post that the mochi was very difficult to break, and i've found this to be true; when i form the daifuku, after i've pinched it closed, i sort of toss it around in my hands like a little beanie bag and it helps to make it rounder and smoother. somebody said that was the way to form perfect meatballs, so i just applied it to the mochi.

hi rachel--thanks for coming by. i think it's just the time of year that makes the light so perfect--all my day photos are coming out v. well right now. i did use photoshop to 'dodge' the center of the persimmon daifuku to lighten it a bit so you can get the idea of how brilliant orange it is in reality. i don't think it's quite conveyed so well on the photo, but you get the idea.

hi jmom--i'll have to figure out a way of sending some to you, it's really delicious. i hope you're not snowed in in nc. stay warm!

hi moira--thank you for the lovely compliments; they don't quite compare to yours, but considering the knocking my dinky camera gets, it does a fantastic job for me.

hi karen! ooh. i have haleang ube and leche flan in the house somewhere. god, i hope it's in the refrigerator ;-) you know, i haven't seen the house yet. unfortunately, you'll have to describe it to me because i can't leave work right now :-( donna's sister, joy, gave birth yesterday so i've taken over her shift. do you have any baking requests? i can get my mom to bring some over....

Oh too bad! Mom and the auntie are now at your house again, I think. Not sure which house though. I haven't been there either to think it's just a very short distance from here.

Baking requests? Hmmm... under normal circumstances perhaps but we're having at least three celebrations we'll be awash with food! They came from the barrio this afternoon and brought back some tibuk-tibok. If I don't get back to the city soon I won't be able to fit into my clothes. Thanks for the offer though! See you sometime then.

Gorgeous! I feel an incredible need to eat daifuku now.

- Christina

wow santos, your ichigo daifuku look simply divine! You must have spent quite some time composing the pictures, but the effort is really worth it cos the photos of the mochi are beautiful. Great post! :)


hi k--mmm i can imagine all the food--don't forget to take photos!

hi christina--me too :-)

hi julia--(laughing) yes, i did do a little running around with daifuku in hand, looking for the best light, but i spent little time devouring them later :-)

Persimmon daifuku? Great idea. Definitely something fish fish would like to try.

Wow this looks so good. I haven't tried mochi balls in ages but I remember loving them. This looks so much better and more tasty! Mmmm.

hi toni

i'm in the middle of a mochi madness thing. i thought i left mochi balls behind, you know? been there, had too many of them. but apparently not.

I made these for a class project on Japan, and they turned out great! The first batch I left in the microwave too long, and the rice flour turned the whole thing into a rubbery mess...but the second one worked perfectly! I loved the anko, and I put way too much sugar in, but hey, the whole thing tasted so good, it really didn't matter! My class loved them too.

I haven't tried this with anything else yet...my mom's kinda against the whole bean thing. But I really want to try it with mango or pineapple...just to see how it turns out.

Great site! The pictures themselves make my mouth water!