Warabi Mochi is a type of Japanese confectionery that originated in Nara Prefecture. It is made from warabi (bracken) starch, water and sugar, and cut into small pieces. Warabi Mochi is usually sprinkled with kinako (roasted soybean flour) or topped with anko (sweet red bean paste) and eaten with a toothpick. It has a smooth and jelly-like texture that dissolves in your mouth. Warabi Mochi is often eaten as a summer snack, as it is cool and easy to digest. In this article from Food in Japan, you can find more information about the history and features of Warabi Mochi, as well as some recommended shops where you can enjoy this traditional Japanese sweet. Don’t miss this opportunity to discover the secrets of this tasty and nutritious sweet that has been popular for a long time.
What is warabi mochi?
Warabi mochi is a popular sweets during summer time. It is a specialty of Kansai Region. It has a texture of soft, chewy and cool that is why it’s popular during summer. Also, it has a jelly-like texture and translucent. It is made from bracken starch, and is traditionally dusted with sweet toasted soybean flour known as kinako. Warabi or bracken is a type of fern, and the starch comes from the underground stem.
Warabi mochi is usually unknown outside of Japan, maybe it’s due to the lack of available ingredients to make them. However it’s easy to make warabi mochi. It’s actually another type of mochi but in different texture so somehow not similar to other typical mochi. Unlike typical mochi that made from glutinous rice, warabi mochi’s texture is more soft, chewy and jelly-like. This sweet is enjoyable to eat after it’s being out from the fridge. You can enjoy the chewy and soft texture, plus the aroma of kinako powder.
The name of “Warabi mochi” comes from an edible wild plant “Warabi”. Which is ‘bracken’ in English. Warabi grows at the sides of rivers and is harvested in late winter. It is the main ingredient of making Warabi Mochi. However, the real Warabi is very expensive so the substitute would be other starch instead of Warabi. Such as sweet potato starch or tapioca starch. In addition, mochi, as well know it is one of the famous Wagashi. You can almost hear and see them everywhere even outside. Mochi is Japanese rice cake made of a short-grain glutinous rice. This is where the name ‘Warabimochi’ comes from.
What is the history of warabi mochi?
During the old times, Warabi mochi did not look exactly the same as it does today. It has been present in Japan since before the Heian era. It was also one of the favourite treats of Emperor Daigo. Warabi mochi changed drastically during the Kamakura period. Bracken starch is a high-quality confectionery that is eaten by high-ranking people. It is influenced by “dim sum”, a small snacks between regular meals, which came from China with Zen Buddhism. Zen Buddhism is a Buddhist sect that practices zazen. Moreover, during the Edo period the production of bracken starch is a rare value that decrease fastly. In present time, Warabi mochi usually has a starch as an ingredient instead of real bracken.
What does warabi mochi tastes like?
Warabi mochi has a texture of soft, chewy, cool and dissolves quickly. In addition, it has a jelly-like texture and translucent. But the taste of the warabi mochi itself has almost no flavours except from sugar. The thing you can taste is the ingredient called ‘kinako’ or sweet toasted soybean flour. Also you have to put the syrup on top. The name of the ingredient is ‘kuromitsu’. It is actually a brown sugar syrup. However, Matcha powder is also common to sprinkle on top and black honey on it. Also, there are types of warabi mochi that has red bean paste inside, which gives another vibe and flavourings.
Where is kansai region?
Kansai is Japan’s spiritual and cultural capital. The nation’s ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara are filled with cultural Zen Gardens and historical sites. In addition, Wakayama has been a religious destination for centuries. The Kansai, or Kinki region has six or seven prefectures, or even in some cases eight, nine or ten prefectures!
The most commonly accepted composition remains as follows: Kyoto Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture, Hyogo Prefecture, Nara Prefecture, Shiga Prefecture and Wakayama Prefecture. Kansai is bordered to the north by the Sea of Japan, the Pacific Ocean to the south of the Kii Peninsula. It encompasses the entire largest freshwater lake in the archipelago which is Lake Biwa.
What are the good benefits of eating warabi mochi?
Did you know? That you can enjoy eating Warabi Mochi without feeling guilty? Well, that is, of course, have to be eaten in proper consumption and especially if you’re on a diet. Warabi Mochi is indeed nutritious. It has total calories of 174 kcal per person, which is quite healthy. But the ingredients of Warabi Mochi have a good contribution to our body as well. Bracken starch is rich in diety fiber, which is good for the regulation of our intestine. It has a constipation-relieving effect. Bracken also contains nutrients like Vitamin B, E, and carotene.
Kinako has a good benefit as well, especially for females. It promotes the secretion of female hormones or estrogen. When you say estrogen, it has the effect of preventing the skin to age. Soybean powder has a good effect on the skin and also stores calcium in bones. It actually has the ability to store osteoporosis and fractures. So apparently it’s not just health but also beauty benefits.
Moreover, we should also be careful of eating too much Warabi mochi. We suggest not overeat and limit it to 60-100g a day. An overdose of soybean can increase the risk of developing endometriosis and breast cancer. Maybe just limit sprinkling Kinako for about 2 tablespoons. Warabi Mochi is good for dieting, but remember that dieting also requires moderate exercise.
New type of warabi mochi
Just as many things continue to evolve, so do WarabiMochi. From the conventional Warabi Mochi, new types of Warabi Mochi with a new texture and beauty, such as Mizumaru Mochi, are starting to be sold. Recently, there are also WarabiMochi that are not to be eaten but to be drunk that is called “Nomu Warabi Mochi”, and Warabi Mochi parfait.
What are the main ingredients?
Making warabi mochi is a lot easier than any other Wagashi. However finding the ingredients is the challenging part. Most especially, a real authentic bracken is expensive yet not easy to find everywhere. Unlike other starches. That is why you can have an option to use other starches like Tapioca or Sweet Potato starch. If you use pure starch of Warabi, the process of turning it into a powder would be time-consuming.
In addition, true warabi mochi is stored at room temperature at all times and it only lasts for a day. We suggest as well if you plan to make Warabi mochi, it is okay to use other starches since it’s more reasonably affordable and almost available everywhere. Here are the list of ingredients:
- Warabiko or Bracken (For substitute, you can use potato or tapioca starch. However, please note that it will be a different consistency)
- Kinako or Soybean flour
- Kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup)
How to make warabi mochi?
Firstly, prepare Warabiko or Warabi Mochi and your baking sheet. Then, sprinkle the Soybean flour or Kinako.
Secondly, put your starch on a medium saucepan along with the sugar. Also, add the water. Combine and mix it well together. with heat resistant spatula
While mixing, heat the mixture to medium heat until it starts to boil. Then reduce the heat, using a spatula beat it constantly until the texture becomes thick or translucent. Beat it for estimated 10 minutes. After it becomes transparent, mix it well for another 2 minutes.
After then remove it from the heat and get your baking sheet with kinako. Transfer the warabi mochi to the baking sheet and add more kinako powder. Let it cool in the regfrigerator for about 20 minutes.
Take it out from refrigerator after 20 minutes then cut it into a cube size using a scraper. You can add more kinako powder according to your liking.
Then you’re done! Add the brown sugar syrup or black honey on top for additional sweetness! Serve it to your family and don’t forget to share it to your friends also!
What are the recommended shops of warabi mochi?
This store is located at Tennoji in Osaka. They use traditional bracken as their ingredient. It is also good to buy as a souvenir for summer. You can enjoy the chewy texture and unique smoothness. Also, with fragrant special soybean flour and brown sugar syrup from Hateruma.
When you say Warabi mochi in Nara, this store will come pop-up first. This store has a total of 4 branches within Nara. They sell gorgeously fresh Warabi Mochi and also other Japanese sweets!
Naramachi Nakanishi Yosaburo
It is a long-established Japanese Confectionery store founded in 1918. Naramachi has a beautiful Japanese ambiance and appearance. Their Warabi mochi uses high quality bracken starch that has plenty of Kinako. There are also Matcha flavour. This store is actually a coffee shop so visitors can enjoy their coffee while having their Japanese sweets.
Located in Kyoto Prefecture, the restaurant’s signature menu is Warabi mochi. It is made by carefully kneading domestically-produced refined genuine warabi powder and high-quality Wasanbon. Which is a Japanese type of sugar that is usually for Wagashi. Additionally, it has a melting texture and you can add black honey and soybean flour to your liking. Their warabi mochi is a perfect souvenir because it comes in a cute purse with 4 pieces of Warabi mochi inside.
Sakamotoya has a store in Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. It is a long-established Japanese confectionery store that was founded in 1890 and has a business history of 113 years. It is one of the few shops where you can enjoy Tokyo-style castella along with warabi mochi. Additionally, they have a variety of Warabimochi thas has red bean paste inside.
This store is located in Fushimi in Kyoto, one of the famous attractions in Kyoto. The cute round sweets from Marumochi is always popular for the souvenir after a visit from Fushimi Inari Shrine. Aside from Warabi Mochi, this store is also famous for Water Maru Mochi which has black honey and soybean flour. The sweets here are indeed delicious.
In conclusion, it is recommended to eat it within the day if you use an ingredient of pure bracken in your Warabi mochi. However, if you use other starch, it can last up to 2 days in the refrigerator. If you keep it on the fridge, it gets hard and becomes white.
Moreover, when eating Warabi mochi, limit it to about 5 to 7 pieces, which is the general amount for one person. The amount depends on your diet. You can lessen the amount according to your suggested diet. However, sprinkling sweet black honey will increase both calories and sugar, so be careful while you are on a diet. Warabi mochi itself contains sugar and is sweet, so it is recommended to sprinkle it with soybean flour without sprinkling brown sugar syrup.
In addition, Warabimochi is popular during summertime in Kansai Region. Kansai region is the cultural and spiritual heart of Japan. There are many more traditional foods and Japanese confectionery to try when you visit Kansai Region. You can even find more authentic and good Japanese street foods in Osaka. And Kyoto, the kingdom of great cuisine. The Kansai region offers many different culinary delights. It is a must-visit when you go to Japan if your trip is guided mostly by your stomach, don’t miss the food capital of Japan!