Kashiwa Mochi

May 3, 2024 | Recipes

So named because this sweet is wrapped in kashiwa (oak) leaves, kashiwa mochi 柏餅 is enjoyed during the Golden Week holidays, early in May. Historically this sweet is associated with Tango no Sekku (also known as Kodomo no Hi or Children’s Day).

What’s the connection? Oak trees represent strength and longevity because the leaves do not fall from their branches until new shoots appear in early summer. This analogy to generational continuity and vigor appeals to Japanese family values.

The oak leaves used as wrappers for the sweets are not consumed (unlike sakura mochi sweets wrapped in edible cherry leaves) but they do contribute a pleasant  aroma. In addition, oak leaves contain eugenol,​ a chemical compound also found in cloves, that exhibits anti-bacterial properties.

If you’d like to try your hand at making kashiwa mochi, friend-and-colleage NAMI CHEN of Just One Cookbook has an excellent video tutorial on her website.

米粉 various rice flours

Kashiwa mochi is made by mixing joshinko rice flour with water and kneading it to make a soft, sticky mass. The mixture is then steamed (many modern kitchens use a microwave oven) and kneaded until smooth and elastic. The mochii dough is divvied up into individual portions (usually 10 since the oak leaves used to wrap the sweets are sold in packets of 10), each rolled out into an oval. A fiilling of sweet bean jam or sweet miso is then enclosed in the mochi dough. Finally each sweet is wrapped in an oak leaf.

There are many different rice flours. Download the GUIDE to RICE FLOURS I created to help you choose the right one for whatever recipe you are making.

To find out more the Golden Week holidays read my May 2024 newsletter.

Visit PROJECT: Cooking with Early Summer Bounty for inspiration and instruction in making dishes with fresh peas and fava beans.

Fresh Bamboo Shoots

Fresh Bamboo Shoots

The moment in the culinary calendar when a food is at its seasonal peak of flavor is referred to as shün, and it is the driving force in most Japanese kitchens. Indeed, entire menus are planned around shün ingredients. In the spring, as tender bamboo buds begin to...

Kiriboshi Daikon

Kiriboshi Daikon

Before refrigeration became widely available, pre-modern societies struggled with keeping fresh food from spoiling. A variety of ingenious techniques were developed throughout the world, including drying fresh foods in well-ventilated shade. In Japan, the resulting...

Funky Fish Sauces

Funky Fish Sauces

Fermented fish sauces can be found in many parts of the world, most having been produced for thousands of years. It is unclear whether each was an independent "discovery" or whether they influenced each other by way of shared ancient trade routes and/or political...

Miso Soup

Miso Soup

An Honorable Bowl of Soup The Japanese have several words to describe their ubiquitous soup seasoned and enriched with miso. The prosaic miso shiru 味噌汁 is a generic word meaning "miso-thickened broth" while miso ji-daté 味噌仕立て is a functional, culinary term meaning...

Recent Posts & Projects