Saturday, May 22, 2010

Leaves and Rice

Japanese confections are usually quite simple. Seasonal fruit is often the final course of a meal. However, the Japanese take delight in snacks of all kinds. I love the seasonal mochi snacks that arrive in spring. In the photo above, there are two kinds of rice snacks rolled in leaves. The round snack is called kashiwa mochi, pounded nonglutinous rice wrapped around a sweetened bean paste, with an oak leaf wrapped around it. The slender snack is called chimaki, sometimes a mixture of glutinous and non-glutinous rice wrapped in a bamboo leaf. As with so many Asian treats, these are textural pleasures.
Perhaps my favorite of these mochi snacks comes in the earliest days of spring when the cherry blossoms decorate the parks and hillsides. Sakura mochi, also known as domyoji, is much like the kashiwa mochi, although it is wrapped in a cherry leaf that has been salt cured, and the rice is often colored pink to resemble the cherry trees.

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