My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch!

Bento Recipes: Ichigo daifuku


Back to the
or the


Ichigo daifukuDaifuku are tasty balls of rice dough with red bean paste in the middle. You can get them in the frozen foods section of Japanese grocery stores. What do you get when you add a strawberry to this already tasty thingie? Ichigo daifuku! Ichigo means "strawberry," of course.

Note: These things do not keep very well in the fridge. The rice dough tends to toughen and spoil the soft texture. You can save those that aren't going to be eaten within a day in the freezer. Which will make the strawberry mushy... really, it's best to eat these quickly. Or make just enough strawberry daifuku for your immediate needs, and with the rest of the batch make regular daifuku - see the bottom of this page - to freeze for later.

What you need:

    1.5 cups mochiko (rice flour)
    1.5 cups water
    1/4 cup sugar
    2 cups of anko (sweet red bean paste)
    About a dozen small to medium strawberries
    Wax paper or a cutting board
    katakuriko (potato starch) for the cutting board

Mix the flour, water, and sugar in a pot. When it's good and mixed, put the heat on as if you were trying to bring it to a boil. Cover. After a few minutes it will thicken alarmingly at the bottom. Stir it up, and keep stirring every minute or so until you have what looks like a pot full of white chewing gum. Take the pot off the heat and leave uncovered.

Flour your working surface with the potato starch, or if you don't have that more rice flour, because this stuff is *sticky.* Using a wooden spoon or whatever, pull out globs of goo, about as much as you want to use for each daifuku (golf ball size is a good point to aim for, though it'll be difficult to judge because of how stretchy it is) and set them on the potato starch. This will help them cool faster. Otherwise you'll be waiting forever.  The pot will keep a layer of the gluey stuff no matter how hard you scrape. Don't worry about that, just set it aside to cool.

Wash the strawberries and cut the leaves off. Smear anko all over them. (The recipes I've seen show them rolled up in neat little anko balls. Hah! If anyone knows how to do this trick, tell me!) It doesn't have to look pretty, as this will all be covered up.

When the dough is cool enough that you can work it without burning yourself, flour your fingers, then work the dough balls into rounds. It's stretchy stuff, so this is easy. When you've got a good round place an anko-covered strawberry on it, then draw the dough up over the filling and pinch it together so it sticks. Pinch it all off and you have an ichigo daifuku! Resist the urge to eat it right there and make the rest.

Caution: don't stretch the dough too thin. If you do, the thing won't have much structural integrity and can tear.

Oh - remember the layer of crud in the pot? When it's cool you can just peel it out and eat it, maybe even make another daifuku with it, although the texture will be a little weird. If there's some papery stuff hardened on the sides, peel it off and eat it. It's tasty.

Plain ol' Daifuku is plenty tasty too. I've liked it ever since the first time I tried it. (And went "What in the world is this? Do I need to cook it?") It's not hard to make, really. Just follow the above directions, but leave out the strawberries and instead just put globs of anko in the dough rounds.

Storebought Daifuku - You can buy daifuku from the frozen foods section of Asian grocery stores. The green ones (yomogi daifuku) are made with mugwort. There other colors as well, and I've seen all sorts of flavors - melon, strawberry, et cetera - at anime cons.