For my wagashi debut, I wanted to tackle a classic, simple treat. Over the next few weeks, I will work up to more complicated designs and tastes. During a recent vacation, I visited a Japanese grocery store in San Francisco’s Japantown. It had been a while since I had encountered so many Japanese products. Without consulting a recipe, I purchased and took home as many traditional baking ingredients that I could carry. Sizing up the pile of ingredients, I decided to make yomogi mochi.
Yomogi mochi (also called kusamochi, 草餅), is a springtime treat ubiquitous in Japan. I often came across it at food vendors throughout the city while I was living in Kyoto. Yomogi, or mugwort, is a plant native to Japan that has wandered the world and made itself comfortable on many foreign soils. The mochi is filled with koshian, fine red bean paste. This wagashi felt like the perfect bridge to celebrate Chicago’s first warm days of the season and my memories of Japan’s springtime energy.