Ohagi, sweet rice balls, are a traditional Japanese autumnal equinox treat! Ohagi are made with glutinous rice or ‘mochi’ rice that is lightly pounded but the grains are still visible, unlike smooth mochi types. The rustic texture, homey toppings, and subtle sweetness are quintessential autumn.
Since only the toppings are lightly sweetened these are not super sugary like a lot of western desserts. I used tsubuan, chunky sweetened red bean paste, as well as kinako, roasted soybean flour, with a little sugar for toppings. You can find both at any Asian grocery store or online, any kind will do!
Another great topping idea would be to use crushed black sesame seeds with a little sugar. If you have a favorite topping that I didn’t mention here, leave a comment below. I’d love to know what’s your favorite. You can also make these inside-out by using the toppings as fillings! It takes a little more finesse, but you can wrap the rice around a ball of the sweet bean paste for a different look.
This is so easy to make I’m not even sure I can call it a recipe, but I wanted to share this with you guys! I really love these at this time of year and I hope you’ll give them a try. Ohagi are as fun to make as they are delicious to eat, so make it a group activity.
- Sweet glutinous rice or mochi rice
- sweetened red bean paste (tsubuan)
- roasted soybean flour (kinako) with sugar
- crushed black sesame seeds with sugar
- Cook the rice in your rice cooker or to package instructions. I made 1 cups worth but you can make larger quantities for parties or your holiday gatherings.
- When the rice is just cool enough to handle but still warm, transfer it to a bowl and mash lightly with a pestle or wooden spoon.
- Form the lightly-pounded mochi rice into small balls.
- Flatten a piece of sweet red bean paste in your palm then close around the rice ball OR roll in the kinako topping.
- Top with sesame seeds or a single adzuki bean and serve!
What foods make the fall season special to you? 🙂