enough to fill the rice cooker to the two-cup mark
Salted and preserved cherry leaves
Sweetened adzuki bean paste
Rinse and clean the mochi rice well. Put it in a rice cooker. Fill the cooker with water up to the two-cup mark. Stir in a very tiny bit of red food colouring and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Let sit for about 30 minutes then cook the rice.
Cook the rice on regular setting. Divide the anko into 20 portions and shape each into balls. Rinse the cherry leaves quickly and drain.
After cooking the rice stir and roughly mash. Flatten the rice surface in the cooker and divide it into the desired number of sakura-mochi.
Moisten your hands and wrap the portioned bean paste with the portioned rice. Wrap the rice with cherry leaves.
Preparing the anko the previous day will make it easier to handle.
[How to make anko] For moderately sweetened koshi-an: Ingredients: 250 g adzuki beans and 200 g sugar (the basic ratio is 1:1)
Put 250 g of adzuki beans into a pressure cooker with twice the amount of water. Bring to a boil and drain over a colander to remove the bitterness.
Return the beans to the pressure cooker with three-times the amount water and cook over high heat until the pressure gauge is raised. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit until the pressure is released.
Blitz the content of the pressure cooker in a food processor until smooth.
Transfer the contents to a sauce pan and cook over a low heat to evaporate off the excess moisture. Turn off the heat when the texture is to your liking. It will stiffen once it cools.
Tip for Step 1 Add the food colouring before adding the sugar. That way, if the colour is too strong, you can still add more mochi rice.
Story Behind this Recipe
This is my mum's way of making these.
Take a tiny bit of the food colouring on the tip of a toothpick. Adjust the colour by adding it little by little to create a very pale pink colour. Before cooking the rice, stir well to distribute the colouring evenly. More sugar helps preserve the moistness of the sakura-mochi. Chill the adzuki bean paste in the fridge. It's easier to handle or shape when chilled. Measure exact tablespoons of adzuki bean paste for quick measuring and suitable amounts. Scoop the bean paste with a spoon, wrap it in the mochi rice, then wrap each in a cherry leaf. This should be done in one go. Store the leftover adzuki bean paste in a plastic bag in the freezer; flatten it and score with lines to separate into tablespoon portions. Freeze it until required. Break off only as much as you need.