This is mochi, a type of soft, chewy cake made from rice flour (mochiko) and filled with various things. I’ve tried (and failed) to make it three times. The frist attempt ended up with something resembling flubber, the second two times I just made rocks.
However for St. Valentine’s day my boyfriend decided to go to the local asian market and buy some premade mochi. The texture is really neat, it’s soft and chewy but not sticky or slimey. The problem I had though is the fillings. The most common is sweet red bean paste filling, which as much as the Japanese love it, I can’t say I did. Between the two assorted boxes he bought there was sweet red bean, green tea, peanut, sesame, yam and taro (which was the only good tasting one and I still don’t know what exactly it is).
I can say one thing though, it was a good learning experience. One of the best ways to experience a culture is through the food.
Here’s a simply recipe for anyone brave enough to try making it (don’t worry, the recipe is actually really simple)