For those of you who do not live in or near a city with a high concentration of people with Japanese ancestry, the above picture may be a little unfamiliar. So let me make an introduction.
This is daifuku. A rice cake if you will. The outside pastry is a very chewy rice dough (some would call it glutonous), the filling is called anko, a redish bean paste made from azuki beans and sugar. My understanding is that, while available all year round, they become quite popular around the new year celebrations.
I had my first run in with these treats about four years ago, when Derrick, a friend of mine from here in Seattle, took me into a local pastry shop and forced me to have one. As a person weened on cookies and pies, it’s taste and especially it’s texture came as a bit of a shock. But I found myself returning to them every so often when I would visit my local Japanese grocery store. They go quite well with hot tea.
They do have a certain aesthetic about them that draws me to them. As you can see, this one does have the dreaded green food coloring added to the dough, but I’m willing to give this a temporary pass, for the color may have some traditional meaning of which I am unfamiliar.