The literal translation of daifuku is “great luck”; it is also the formal name for the more commonly used Mochi Balls – a Japanese treat served with tea.
By Sarah Lambersky
Daifuku are made of pounded glutinous rice cakes (mochi) and stuffed with a filling or paste. There are four basic components to daifuku: Sweet rice flour (mochiko), sugar, water plus a filling of your choice. Traditional mochi balls are stuffed with red (adzuki) bean or Japanese mugwort (yomogi), but these days, it seems the variety of shapes, colours and flavours have exploded; some mochi balls are even filled with ice cream.
From a texture perspective, these palm-sized balls are delicate, soft, and have a marshmallow-like chewiness. Mochi tends to be a bit sticky. To prevent them from sticking to each other, the balls are rolled or dusted with a powder or seed such as potato starch, green tea (matcha) powder, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder or sesame seeds
These particular mochi balls are from a great tea shop in Copenhagen called, Sing Tehus. Both a cafe and tea shop, Sing Tehus carries an array of fragrant teas in beautiful tins, Japanese sweets, and chocolates. When I have guests and want to offer something a bit different, I head on over to Sing Tehus in the center of the city, pick up an assortment of mochi balls and serve them on a cake stand, a decorative platter or in little ceramic dishes. Just remember, they are quite filling so all you need is two or three per person.
In Case You Were Wondering:
Mochitsuki: An all day, labourious Japanese New Year tradition, where friends and family gather to transform sweet glutinous rice and pound it into mochi.
Wagashi: The name of the major category of traditional Japanese confectionery which is served with tea. Wagashi date back to the Edo period in Japan and are linked to Kyoto, the city where they got their start. They are made from plant based ingredients, and can be seasonally driven by flavour and appearance. Wagashi are intricately designed to evoke the five senses and are open to artistic manipulation due to the malleability of mochi (think of wagashi as the equivalent of marzipan). Daifuku is a type of wagashi.
Mochi: Glutinous rice that has been pounded into a glutinous rice cake.
Mochiko: A type of sweet rice flour.
Other great places for mochi balls include:
Benkyodo (San Francisco)
Minamoto Kitchoan (Tokyo, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, London, Singapore)