Strawberries and red bean paste fill these delicate mochi desserts. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Strawberries and red bean paste fill these delicate mochi desserts. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

On the strawberry patch: The zen of Mochi

This delicate Japanese sweet takes patience to master

I thought I was dreaming when the cranes woke me early Sunday morning.

I looked out on the ice and saw the little family of three padding along and joyfully announcing their return to their summer home. I remembered the birth of their little chick, the fluffy, gangly baby who has grown into the majestic adolescent I see now, and I am so grateful to witness life’s circle turning.

It has been a trying springtime for me and my family, a time of urgency and painful transition, but the return of the cranes has sparked new hope in me.

In Japanese tradition, the crane is a symbol of love, good fortune and longevity, and it is said that a person who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be gifted one wish by a deity.

I have never been patient or meticulous enough to master the art of paper folding, but I am willing to try for the chance that my wish might be granted, and the cloud over my heart might be dissolved in a ray of sunshine to be carried away on the wings of the cranes.

This Japanese dessert is also meant for good luck, and requires the zen of experience to master. It is a fitting challenge for a time dedicated to growth and acceptance of the order of life.

Strawberry Red Bean Mochi

Ingredients for red bean filling:

1 cup dried red azuki beans

¾ cup brown sugar

Pinch salt

Directions for bean paste:

Boil beans in water for 2 hours until mushy.

Drain and press through a fine mesh strainer to remove the skins.

Allow the excess water to separate from the bean solids, then gently pour out the excess water.

Add sugar and salt and stir to combine.

Note: If you can find a can of sweet red bean filling in an Asian grocery store you will save yourself a lot of time, but the flavor will be slightly different.

Ingredients for mochi:

1 cup sweet rice flour

¼ cup sugar

1 cup water

Cornstarch for dusting

8 strawberries (small to medium sized, washed, thoroughly dried and top removed)

Directions:

Mix the rice flour, sugar and water in a microwave-safe bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 minutes.

Remove and stir, cover again, and microwave for another 30 seconds.

The dough will be very sticky and hot.

Generously dust your surface with cornstarch and turn the dough out onto it.

Cover the top of the dough with cornstarch as well.

Use a sharp knife or pastry cutter to divide the dough into 8 equal portions.

Gently flatten one portion of dough into a disk.

Spread about a teaspoon of bean paste onto the center of the disk, then place your strawberry in the center.

Very gently wrap the dough up to cover the strawberry. Use plenty of cornstarch on your hands to prevent sticking and handle them delicately or the dough may tear.

Roll the ball in your hands for 30 seconds to be sure it is sealed.

Store the mochi seamside down.

Repeat with the rest of the dough and strawberries.

Store in the refrigerator and eat within three days.

The leftover bean paste is delicious on toast and pancakes or stirred into oatmeal for a sweet protein boost. If you want to skip the red bean paste entirely, chocolate hazelnut spread would be an outstanding substitute.

For ice cream mochi, use a small scoop to portion balls of ice cream onto a tray and freeze solid before wrapping in mochi dough. Return immediately to the freezer and store frozen until ready to serve. Green tea ice cream and mango sorbet are popular choices for this application.

More in Life

Noa (voiced by Owen Teague) in 20th Century Studios’ “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.” (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios)
On the Screen: New ‘Planet of the Apes’ expands, brings new ideas to franchise universe

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” tells a story that feels more rooted in fantasy than the post-apocalypse vibe of its predecessors

A mural depicting imagery and iconography of Kenai brightens the entryway of the Walmart in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Visible art raises people’s spirits’

Local artist’s mural introduced as part of Walmart renovations

Former North Kenai resident George Coe Dudley, seen here during the winter of 1950-51, was a hard-drinking man. His messy funeral in 1967 in Kenai echoed his lifestyle. (Photo courtesy of Al Hershberger)
This parting was not sweet sorrow — Part 1

“Dudley was an easy-going, laid-back sort of guy, always laughing and joking, as well as hard drinking.”

The Ladies of the Pacific lead a hula demonstration as part of Aloha Vibes at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Saturday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Diamond Dance’s ‘Aloha Vibes’ brings together music, movement and celebration

The project’s all-company showcase was only one of several attractions filling the space as part of the group’s annual event

English muffins are surprisingly easy to make and so much better fresh. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Special breakfast for a special day

Eggs Benedict are made even more delicious with homemade English muffins

Happy Valley homesteader Wayne Jones looks through the telescope built by Rex Hanks, circa 1950. (Photo from “The Pioneers of Happy Valley, 1944-1964,” by Ella Mae McGann)
A Kind and Sensitive Man: The Rex Hanks Story — Part 4

Rex Hanks had a reputation as a forthright, hard-working, inventive and sensitive man

Will Morrow (courtesy)
It’s not always better to give

I was trying to come up with my own words of wisdom to share with my son

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
A copy of “Drawn from Deep Waters: True Stories from the Kenai Peninsula,” is held on Thursday in Kenai.
Off the Shelf: Congregation calling

The collection is written by patrons of Kalifonsky Christian Center

Trees burned in the 2019 Swan Lake Fire are pictured on the Sterling Highway, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo by Meredith Harber/courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Showing compassion beyond crisis mode

Crisis mode, while terrifying, brings out a collective care for one another that is beautiful to witness in the moment

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Joe Spady rehearses “Murder at the Renaissance Faire” at the Kenai Performers’ Theater in Soldotna on Wednesday.
Dysfunction and death at the ‘Faire’

Kenai Performers put on ‘absurd’ mystery against a backdrop of Shakespeare and corn dogs

This green goddess salad is full of fiber, protein, and nutrition, and when paired with some pita crackers or tortilla chips makes a complete and satisfying meal. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Greens to get through the day

This green goddess salad is full of fiber, protein and nutrition

Attendees gather to dance and to listen during a performance by Blackwater Railroad Company, part of the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna Music Series lineup announced, opens June 5

The music series runs every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.