10 Jun 2016

わらびもち ・ Warabimochi

Warabimochi is a Japanese confection, sort of like soft but firm jelly, usually rolled in kinako (toasted, finely ground soy beans). It's a cool and refreshing dessert or snack, and perfect for a hot summer day. The taste of the warabimochi itself is quite bland but kinako dusted on them gives a nutty flavour. I was invited to a Japanese party held by my Japanese club teacher earlier this year and I made these (among other things) to bring with me.

Traditionally warabimochi has been made from bracken starch but nowadays, as bracken starch is rare and expensive, starch from sweet potatoes and tapioca, or even arrowroot starch are used. Real bracken starch is used only in rare upscale products. I read that only 70g of starch can be extracted from 10 kg of bracken roots if done manually (but I have no idea if the yield could be optimized using modern techniques). If original bracken starch is used, the resulting warabimochi are slightly brown (I've never tasted those, but I think I've seen them, and thought them weird, as the non-true warabimochi are original to me...). They may also change color and harden when kept in refrigerators (while the ones made from other starches have a clear texture and can be kept in fridge).


makes about 70 small pieces

50 g warabimochi-ko (I used a flour mix containing sweet potato and arrowroot starches)
250 ml water
30 g sugar

for dusting: about 15 g kinako (toasted soy bean powder, which tastes very different from the soy flour sold here, so I'm not sure if it can be substituted)

to serve with: kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup), optional

Dust some kinako through a sieve onto a big plate. Put warabimochi-ko in a microwave-safe bowl and add a little amount of water and stir until you get an even paste [I did it differently, as you can see from the pictures, but don't do as I did, but as I instruct ;) ]. Add the rest of the water and sugar and stir.

Heat the mixture up in a microwave, 2 minutes or so and stir even. Continue heating it on half power a minute at a time and stirring the dough every now and then until it gets transparent and thickens. Once it's ready, pour it out on a kinako dusted plate, dust more kinako on it and if needed flatten until desired thickness. Let cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces and coat the pieces all over in kinako.

P.S. I haven't a clue if warabimochi-ko or kinako can be found here in Finland (my best bet would be either Tokyokan in Helsinki or then those oriental grocery stores in Hakaniemi) but you could try this recipe which uses potato starch as a substitute.

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