Friday, May 05, 2006

Actually You Don't Have to Be a Child to Eat Kashiwa Mochi on Children's Day


We celebrate “Children’s Day” on the 5th of May in Japan. Last year I did post something about koinobori, the carp-shaped streamers which are traditionally associated with the holiday, but I didn't mention much about the Children’s Day per se. So this year I joined a koinobori-related local event and ate traditional rice cakes called kashiwa mochi so that I can convince myself that I did something memorable in this year's Golden Week. My post about the local event is in progress now.

This site has a good explanation of our customs related to the Children’s Day and the traditional sweets we eat on that day. (Scroll down to the bottom.) Notice the leaves wrapped around the rice cakes look a little different from the regular oak leaves? According to several websites, oak trees are not very popular in western half of Japan, so in some areas, people traditionally used -- and still use -- leaves of other plants such as sarutori ibara (Smilax China).

Anyway, what makes kashiwa mochi a special dessert for me is the wonderful fragrance of the oak leaves. Some of my friends do not like it, saying it smells like medicine or something, but it doesn't bother me at all. I like it. It is my privilege to be able to enjoy the harmony of the fragrance of the leaf, silky texture of the rice cake, sweetness of the sweet bean paste filling AND a slight, refreshing bitterness of hot green tea. Mmmmm….
To indulge in this pleasure, I do not hesitate to claim that I am a child at heart. ;)

* If you want to see how kashiwa mochi is made, click here. (Best viewed with Windows media player 9 series.)



Evangeline said...

Can you eat the oak leaves too? Or is it solely a wrapper for the mochi..?

I've always wondered...when you sakura mochi, do you also eat those leaves...?

Kristi said...

Looks delicious! My weak spot is everything mochi.

K and S said...

Good for you! I'm sure that we all have a child in us somewhere. :)

Take care.


ChroniclesofChaos said...

Wow! I've always wondered what the fish flying on poles are for!

As for mochi, I tried making it but sadly, I had to use tonnes of potato starch to keep it from sticking all over. It looks NOTHING like in yr pic where not a trace of flour can be seen.

Sigh. Teach me where I have gone wrong when you have the time ok? =)

obachan said...

I don’t think oak leaves taste good. Cherry leaves used for sakura mochi are salt-preserved so they are soft and thin with nice salty taste. The oak leaves for kashiwa mochi are much thicker and could be a bit bitter?? I don’t know ‘cuz I never tried, and no one I know of ever tried eating kashiwa leaves.

Oh, that’s why your name is mochicheek? ;) The same here. I can never resist mochi.

k & s
Ture! :D

Good point!
You did nothing wrong. It’s just different type of mochi. Though this kashiwa mochi is called “mochi,” actually it is more like a steamed dumpling. You mix warm water and rice flour (joshinko), knead, steam, pound, knead again, cool it in cold water and then roll into small balls, flatten with wet hands and wrap sweet bean paste with the mochi, then steam again. When they are done, you wrap them with the leaves. 

Actually I didn’t know how to make kashiwa mochi until now. I googled and found moving pictures showing the how-to, and copied the procedure above. Hope you can see it at the link in my post. Thanks to your question, I learned something new. :D

ChroniclesofChaos said...

There IS another Mochi way afterall. Woot!

Thanks ever so much...I will love this new information for the rest of my mochi days! :)

Btw...another trillion thanks for the Matcha Pound Receipe. I tried it out today and am in love with the intense Matcha taste! (I never liked pound cake coz it's so plain but I had to make one to please Mom). Will work out my oven kinks another time to make it more presentable.

Thank goodness for you once again!

Deetsa said...

oh my. I think I want mochi again. *counting the days until I go south*

JW said...

Oh man, it's already the kashiwa-mochi season! Funny some of the things I miss now that I'm living in the US.

I like some of the recipes you got going on here. I just recently started my own Japanese recipe blog.

obachan said...

No problem. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

Mochi is

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Glad to know that you are enjoying Japanese food over there. Good luck with your recipe blog ;)

Anonymous said...

O-Haio Obachan!

I'd never seen mochi like those before, although I have helped make the New Year ones. I guess the oak leaves are just a wrapper to carry them in. Now I have to go out and smell oak leaves! But the ones here in England are smaller....


obachan said...

Ohayo John,
AH, making New Year mochi was a lot of fun, wasn't it? When I helped making them in my childhood, me and my sis got potato starch all over our clothes and made mom really mad.
I didn't know your oak leaves are smaller. Interesting!