Mochi continues to make waves in the dessert scene. The Japanese rice cake is a pal to the palate of many sweet tooths, including mine! A fabulous treat that is a favorite of mochi connoisseurs is the trending mochi ice creams that come in imaginative selections. Remembering the unusual strawberry and cheese mochi from last summer, I couldn’t wait to reunite with mochi for another adventure. This summer, we’re taking a bite (or two) into a beloved member of the mochi ice cream realm: mango.
If I could pick only three words to describe mochi, it’ll be ‘chewy’, ‘soft’ and ‘versatile’. This delightful eat is made from glutinous rice, hence, glutinous rice flour is an integral ingredient in mochi recipes. Additionally, mochi is regularly a canvas that brings out strokes of different flavors beautifully, from traditional Japanese red bean fillings to innovative flavors. Mango is no exception – mochi and mango are a match made in mochi heaven!
My mochi adventure includes a twist to regular mochi ice creams: glutinous rice flour isn’t listed as an ingredient… starch is used instead! My curiosity was instantly piqued. Will it be anything like regular mochi? I had to find out.
Mango + Mochi
Prior to sinking my teeth into these inviting mochi balls, I slipped into my sleuthing boots to embark on another quest: to discover a little more about mango mochi. Daifuku mochi is the most common form of the mango and mochi collab that appeared in my search, and it is a much-loved supermarket pick internationally. ‘Daifuku’ is round-shaped mochi desserts with decadent fillings inside, including ice creams. My journey had also guided me to mochi’s hometown: Japan.
A mango mochi that ticks the kawaii (cute) and delicious boxes is a daifuku mochi at Tokyo Disneyland. This mochi, which doesn’t appear to be in the form of ice cream, is certainly one of a kind – it’s a Lilo & Stitch-inspired mango mochi. Taking the theme a step further, the mochi resembles the face of Lilo’s homemade rag doll, Scrump! Scrump’s mochi fillings come in two other flavors as well, namely purple sweet potato and banana. Since it’s June and ‘626 Day’ (26th June) was upon us to celebrate the one and only Stitch (a.k.a. alien experiment 626), I couldn’t resist adding two cute characters to my mango mochi experience.
Mochi & Starch
While ‘glutinous rice’ are the first words that come to mind when creating mochi (especially daifuku), various types of mochi that are made from other starch-based ingredients do exist. Looking through my metaphoric magnifying glass on mochi that feature starch as a primary ingredient, I was introduced to Warabi Mochi. Warabi mochi is traditionally made from bracken starch (starch from a fern-like plant), and potato starch is a favored substitute. This confection is then coated in soybean powder. Sprinkling a bit of warabi mochi’s magic into daifuku mochi is a unique idea, therefore, I couldn’t wait to taste my mochi.
Aesthetically, these mochi pieces resemble traditional Japanese daifuku mochi. Possessing a light peach shade, the mochi’s appearance is a sneak peek into the mango-filled experience. Each mochi piece is coated in starch to reduce the stickiness, because mochi can get pretty sticky and squishy.
Mango exclaims “Hello, world!” from the get-go. Summer vibes from the bright mustard-yellow filling are celebrated further with its refreshing mango taste. To my palate, it is ‘just right’ on the sweetness scale as it has more of a fruity sweetness rather than a sugary one. I learnt that ‘mango pulp’ is included in the mochi pieces – this certainly explains the flavor’s boldness. Apart from taste, another clue that pointed to mango pulp was the teeny bit of the fruit’s traces in the filling’s texture.
Mochi’s mild flavor is lovely with the mango, and it isn’t too chewy. This soft and squishy element adds a dash of excitement, as it pushes the ice cream envelope by entering into the classic ice cream cone’s position even though crunchy cones and soft mochi are polar opposites!
Interestingly, while this mochi’s roots link to the ice cream realm, the experience of munching on this sweet is actually somewhere between a frozen mochi ice cream and a regular daifuku mochi. This is mostly because the texture changes based on the temperature. The recommended defrost duration is 15 minutes, but I tasted my mochi at various phases in the name of science!
After defrosting in the tropical heat for over 10 minutes (icy treats do melt fairly quickly here), I decided to take a bite. The filling is mostly creamy like melted gelato, but in a good way. It wasn’t runny when I tasted this semi-defrosted version. It continued to sit well in the mochi pieces even though it had started to melt a little more after I divided my mochi in half. The mochi’s texture is a little stickier as the starch coat has completely disappeared in the defrost process, but it didn’t completely stick to my plate and fingers as the mochi is dense. Mochi’s stickiness factor is attributed to the starch/potato starch’s role. This is my favorite way to munch on this mochi.
As for the mochi pieces that were defrosted for a much shorter duration, they taste like fresh mango ice cream. There are, however, some icy bits inside. The mochi is firmer and less sticky when it’s chilled, and it delivers its renowned chewy touch nicely.
Being one of my favorite desserts in Asia, it’s a treat for me to witness the evolution of mochi in other sweet eats. I can’t wait to see what the mochi world will introduce next!