Every time Häagen-Dazs comes out with a new ice cream flavor, we swear we can almost hear the collective groan of sweets lovers across Japan saying, “Darn it! Why do they have to come up with something so insanely tempting?” Well, it looks like they’ve done it again, this time using a traditional Japanese ingredient — mochi rice cakes! What? Cold, creamy ice cream and soft mochi, did you say? Now, that’s certainly caught our attention!
Eating sweet tangerines, or mikan as we call them here, while snuggled in a warm kotatsu table is a favorite winter pastime in Japan. (And believe us when we say it becomes a struggle to leave the comfortable warmth of the kotatsu for anything short of a grave emergency.)
Well, thanks to Japanese confection maker Akasaka Aono, you can now enjoy winter tangerines in a slightly unique form. They’ve wrapped a whole tangerine inside a soft daifuku rice cake! Now, that’s certainly an unusual presentation for a daifuku, so it’s not surprising that the Japanese public has taken notice, and since we’re always on the lookout for interesting foods, one of the reporters from our Japanese sister site Pouch promptly tried the cake to give all of us a first hand account. Let’s hear what she had to say about the unique tangerine and mochi confection!
A popular confectionery around the New Year’s season in Japan is mochi. Mochi is often translated to “rice cake” but is nothing like the Styrofoam discs of the same name that are popular in some countries and doesn’t really resemble a cake at all. It can either be more like a soft “rice gummy”, usually stuffed with sugary foods like sweet beans, strawberry, or even ice cream; or like a “condensed rice block”, which is often basted in soy sauce, grilled, and wrapped in seaweed.
Mochi is made by whacking rice in a tub repeatedly with a giant wooden mallet, a fun but tiring holiday festivity. During New Year’s mochi is sold in a small snowman like configuration called kagami mochi (pictured above) which serves as a decoration until it is eaten after 1 January.
While all of this sounds fun, mochi has a dark side as well – one that foreigners who try it for the first time often realize quickly: It’s chewy, sticky, and really hard to eat.
And if you’re not careful, this little snack could land you in the ER.