Ohagi, or botamochi, are sweet rice balls which are usually made with glutinous rice. They are commonly eaten during higan periods in spring and autumn, a Buddhist holiday celebrated by Japanese sects during both equinoxes. The name, ohagi, came from the autumn flower, hagi (bush clover). Traditionally, sweet rice balls made during the spring higan are called botamochi which is named after the spring flower, botan.
This recipe calls for two kinds of rice: glutinous and Japanese. Glutinous rice is a sticky, often sweet rice grown in Southeast Asia. It is called glutinous not because it contains gluten, but due to its stickiness. Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from glutinous rice. Japanese rice is a short-grain, polished white rice. You can use either a rice cooker or stovetop for this recipe--simply adjust the time if you are cooking rice in a pot on the stove.
- For Rice Balls:
- 2 1/2 cups glutinous rice (mochi gome)
- 1/2 cup Japanese rice
- 3 cups water
- For Toppings:
- 3/4 lb. anko (sweet azuki bean paste)
- 1/2 cup crushed walnuts and 2 tbsp. sugar, ground together
- 3 tbsp. black sesame seeds and 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar, ground together
- 1/3 cup kinako (soy bean powder) and 2 tbsp. sugar, mixed
Put both kinds of rice in a bowl and wash with cold water. Drain the rice in a colander and set aside for 30 minutes.
Place the rice in a rice cooker and add 3 cups water. Let the rice soak in the water for 30 minutes. Start the cooker.
Put prepared toppings into separate bowls.
When rice is cooked, let it steam for 15 minutes. Mash the rice with wooden pestle or spoon until sticky. Wet hands and shape the rice into oval balls. Cover rice balls with different toppings and serve.