SAKURA MOCHI – cherry leaf dumpling

Spring is definitely here! Many cherry trees were in full bloom last weekend, petals are falling now, making the ground so pretty in pale pink.

I am Japanese, I adore cherry blossom. It’s in my blood.

There must be some sort of theory behind it, some anthropologists must have studied it. But I personally think it is to do with the fact that many schools have cherry trees in their ground, and all schools start in April in Japan. I saw it blossomed since I was a little three years old going to a kinder-garden for first time to twenty something years old graduating from a university.
Cherry blossom is symbol of new start and growth, separations attached to the new beginning, the sentimentality of it all.

I remember having HANAMI (cherry blossom viewing) lunch at primary school with new classmates, watching petals falling with wind, giggling that a petal had fallen to my soup.
Also I remember the time I went to HANAMI at evening with my family at old castle ground, the cherry trees were so beautiful and mystical in the dark. My dad told me the tale that blossoms there were so pink because of the blood of SAMURAI soldiers who died at historical battle gave me a shiver in chilly Spring evening.

We, Japanese, love cherry trees so much, and we eat cherry leaves and blossoms as well as just looking at them.
Traditional Japanese cooking use some seasonal leaves, not only cherry tree, but also oak leaves for May, bamboo leaves, some area use some camellia for winter, so on and on.  (we don’t actually eat oak or bamboo, camellia leaves, but just used for flavour and decoration)

Cherry leaf and blossom can be salted and stored, and eaten. It has special smell, which I associate with Spring.

One of popular sweet dish using cherry leave is this SAKURA-MOCHI. You can buy it at any Japanese traditional cake shop (WAGASHI-YA) in Japan in April.

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This one is popular type in West Japan, as this use DOUMYOUJI-KO (cracked glutinous rice).
In East Japan, we use glutinous rice powder and make thin pancake to roll ANKO (azuki paste). I actually grew up with East Japan style one, but I prefer this West Japan version.

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KOSHI-ANN (sieved azuki paste) is covered with pink dumpling made with DOMYOUJI-KO (cracked glutinous rice). Then rolled with salted cherry leaves.

To make this, I needed to get cherry leaves, DOUMYOUJI-KO (cracked glutinous rice),  KOSHI-ANN (sieved azuki paste) powder from Japanese baking shop via my mum’s.
I always think it is strange that I start making those Japanese treat which I never made while I was in Japan. I’d always thought it was something I just bought from shop. But in Belfast, I need to make one if I want to eat it, and I learnt how to.

It’s a strange combination of sweetness of Azuki beans and saltiness of cherry leaves. There is nothing like this smell and taste, it’s very special.

If you happen to be in Japan in Spring, or in large city somewhere in the world with a really good Japanese deli, and see this treat, please give a go. It is the taste of Japanese Spring.

Enjoy the last weekend of April!
Happy Fiesta Friday!!


21 thoughts on “SAKURA MOCHI – cherry leaf dumpling

  1. I love adzuki paste and glutinous rice desserts. The cherry leaves are new to me, but will have to search them out. Or maybe pick my own when they appear here.

    1. One of my friend actually salted cherry leaves from her garden in Belfast one year. Because cherry leaves appear after blossom, and you want to eat this treat ideally while blossoms are out, you need to keep the salted leaves till next Spring. It’s a long process, so I opted to buy it on-line. But I think I need to research about salting & storing leaves myself too! 🙂 Nice to hear that you like Azuki & rice dessert!

  2. This looks so lovely…I have a feeling I would enjoy them very much… I love how certain foods bring back memories, hopefully most of them happy memories 🙂 I learned so much from you today.. I never realized we could eat cherry leaves!

    We share a love for those beautiful pink blossoms, they’re so pretty and filled with the promise of what is to come!!

    Thank you so much for sharing such a lovely dish on Fiesta Friday. .. I’m so glad you did. ..and I know that everyone will too! ❤

    1. Thank you for lovely comment. I love this season when many tree has blossom and green leaves starts to appear everywhere.
      I did some web research on cherry tree, and I found that blossom are mostly edible (in Japan, at least!), but apparently, we only use one type of cherry tree leaves growing in IZU region of Japan, as this one type of cherry has special strong smell we want for this bun.

    1. I also learnt about cheery, after writing about it!! I usually buy this bun at the shop, or buy salted leaf/blossom, so I’ve actually never wonder if I can salt any cherry leaves or not.

  3. I read this post on my phone this morning outside in my yard facing my 2 little cherry trees that are in full bloom right now 🙂 so it was very poetic & I have the same experience with Indian food where I would have never made some of the dishes at home, because they are so easily available in shops, but now if I want to eat them, I have to make them 🙂 Lovely post with a lovely dish!

    1. It’s so nice that you got some cherry trees in your garden! I don’t have any cherry tree in my garden, but my next door neighbour has one tree in their front garden, so I am admiring it.
      Isn’t is funny that we are cooking something of home, which we never cook if we were at home country? 🙂 I learnt so much Japanese cooking since I moved here via Japanese recipe website!

  4. This is such an interesting post! I am LOVE the cherry blossoms that proliferate our city at this time of year, but I had no idea that any of it was edible! I can only imagine the flavours! I love mocha, so I am sure this must be very delicious! Thanks for such a wonderful post! 😀

    1. I think many people see cherry blossom as a start of Spring and adore it. I am not sure if people like summer cherry tree covered with hairy caterpillars. That’s another story from my childhood! 😉

  5. Wow, this looks delicious, maybe I’ll just have to head over to Japan. I’m sure the springtime is beautiful for other reasons (beyond food as well). I love hearing about new salty and sweet combinations such as the Azuki beans and cherry leaves. Thank you for sharing such a special dish at the fiesta!

    1. Thank you, Kaila for the comment. Yes, Spring is beautiful season to visit Japan. It’s not too hot or cold, so great time for sightseeing. And there is plenty of Spring delights, I really miss spring veg / wild plant, like fern tops and bamboo shoots. Thank you for coming over 🙂

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