My dad held up a box of durian mochi and looked at me questioningly. “Do you think we should get this?”
It was New Year’s Eve, and we were at the Asian grocery picking up ingredients for my favorite Malaysian soup, vegetarian Bak Kut Teh. I shrugged, setting bok choy and enoki mushrooms on the cash register. “I think we better get it,” Dad said. “I like mochi.”
“Do you like durian?” I asked.
“Yeah,” my dad said. I hid my smile. What have I done to my family?
I think 2017 is going to be a very different kind of year. I’m not sure how just yet, but there’s this feeling that something changed. Do you feel it? Is it the US political debacle? Is it my Saturn returning because I’m turning 28 this year? Is it the fact that the Bao Sheng Durian Festival is already booked out, and the Malaysia Durian Tour has three bookings even though I haven’t yet set the date?
Or is it that this year, of his own volition, my dad is seeking out durian?
This was the man who, two years ago, sniffed out the plastic wrapping on a pack of frozen durian that I’d washed before putting in the outdoor garbage.
I guess things really can change.
What is Durian Mochi
Mochi is a traditional sweet eaten on Japanese New Year. Since 1873, the Japanese have celebrated on January 1st, like we do in the USA. Before that, they celebrated the lunar New Year, like the Chinese. This year, Chinese New Year starts January 28.
In my part of America, mochi usually means some kind of ice cream, usually mango or green tea, wrapped in a thin layer of sticky rice dough.
My dad had never seen a mochi that didn’t involve ice cream. I think he was hoping for durian ice cream, like the kind we got on Petaling Jaya Street Walk when he and mom visited me in Malaysia.
I explained to him that the term “mochi” refers to the dough, which is made from sweet short-grained Japanese rice steamed and then pounded into a gooey mass you can mold into whatever shape you want.
It’s different from durian snowskin mooncakes because it uses a different kind of rice and has a different texture
When the mochi dough is stuffed with a sweet filling, it’s actually called daifukumochi or just daifuku. I’d tasted this before at Durian Cottage in Malacca, and didn’t like it. It’s why I shrugged when my dad asked if we should get it.
This one, filled with a sweet yellow paste similar to the Thai durian guan, was much tastier.
The one in Malacca had tasted stale, with a wrapper that was almost crusty when I bit in. This one was soft and pliable, with the nice elasticity that forces you to rip the mochi in half with your teeth rather than bite it.
The durian paste was a bit sweet for my tastes, but had a smooth texture and good durian flavor, exactly like a tube of the durian guan you can buy at 7-11’s in Thailand. I wouldn’t be surprised it if that’s what it was.
About This Durian Mochi
Royal Family is a company based out of Tawian. It turns out their mochi factory is open for tours, so if I ever get the chance to visit Taiwan it’s something I’ll think about.
You can buy a box to try on Amazon.
My dad, being nerd1 in the family, read the complete back of the box. I’d already scanned it to make sure the ingredients were 100% vegan, but hadn’t noticed the warning label on the back.
“In order to avoid choking, please chew and swallow carefully.”
We spent the next half hour googling “obvious warning labels” while munching our durian mochis.
Dad was a fan. I shrugged.
But I wouldn’t ask for any other way to start the New Year than by sharing a box of durian-flavored Japanese New Year cakes, selected by my dad.
Things really do change.
Make it Yourself
Japanese 101 Cooking’s Youtube Channel has a good recipe for the base mochi dough, using only 3 ingredients, which you can use as the wrapping for durian paste or durian ice cream daifuku.
If you’d like to see me make durian mochi, make sure to leave a comment and tell me below!
You can also check out the recipe for Durian Nian Gao, the Chinese New Year cake.