Similar but not the same

I have a can of azuki bean paste (oh my goodness, I love it so much!) and tons of glutinous rice flour. (Actually I think I had 3 pounds, out of which one is now used.) The Chinese version, yuanxiao, is made with the flour, water and bean paste. The Japanese version, daifuku, is made with the flour, water, sugar and bean paste. However, besides the fact that I made ichigo daifuku (i.e. the daifuku have a strawberry in them), the difference between the two are huge.

It didn’t actually take that long to make these.

Yuanxiao are cooked in water and then also served hot in a sweet soup (in my case, I was lazy so I just diluted some brown sugar in the soup). This means that you make a dough which consists mostly of rice flour (and some water), which needs to be at the right consistency to wrap the bean paste in. If it’s too watery, it will stick and not hold its shape; if it’s too dry, it’ll break easily during the wrapping process. I figured out that having a slightly dry dough is fine, because you can just use water to fill the cracks. Speaking of cracks, amongst the 25 or so I made, only 2 ended up breaking apart during cooking. That’s pretty good for a first try, I would say!

It didn’t actually take that long to make these.

For the ichigo daifuku, you make something like a batter with a 1:1 water to flour ratio and add sugar more or less to taste (overall, I roughly had a 1:1:0.7 ratio). I was so terrified of this production process. I microwaved the batter for roughly 7 minutes and let it cool down while wrapping the bean paste around the strawberries. It’s a thankless and surprisingly boring task. Later I forgot about the mochi for a little too long, so the wrapping of the final mochi layer was probably also harder than necessary. But, surprisingly the end product ended up fairly round after all!

Yuanxiao used to be my favorite dessert of all times, but all in all, ichigo daifuku are better. The combination of strawberries, red bean paste and mochi is absolutely unbeatable. I love mochi, strawberries and red bean paste separately, but the combination is probably the most godly food in existence. To me.

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