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hokkaido, imomochi, japanese food, rice cake flavors

Hokkaido Imomochi: Shaking Up the World of Rice Cake Flavors!

Thuy Fang

Thuy Fang

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A plate of imomochi (potato cake) which rivals even the best rice cake flavors.

Imomochi, or potato cake, is a distinctive treat from Hokkaido- Japan’s northernmost island. Unlike traditional mochi made from rice, imomochi hits a difference by using Hokkaido’s prized potatoes as its main ingredient. This sets imomochi apart from other regular rice cake flavors and textures.

The Meaningful Origin of Imomochi

Simply put, imomochi is a yummy specialty of Hokkaido and has a remarkable story! Imomochi’s story shows how Hokkaido’s folks found a delicious solution. In the late 1800s, pioneers exploring the island faced an issue with rice, the main ingredient in making mochi. Rice needed more for mochi rice cakes since rice cultivation on the island was challenging. 

Fortunately, however, they had plenty of potatoes! Thus, they got creative and made Imomochi, a potato version of the rice cake. It became their favorite snack providing them with the necessary protein and carbohydrates to endure the harsh weather and hard work. Even when times were tough, like during and after the war, people relied on Imomochi when food was scarce. 

A plate of buttered Hokkaido potatoes.
Hokkaido has some of the best potatoes in the country! Image via Shutterstock

From being a survival snack for pioneers, it’s become a beloved treat representing Hokkaido’s food heritage. It’s a must-have snack for everyone in Hokkaido, from kids to elders. Today, imomochi is loved by both locals and tourists. 

Imomochi looks like a homely dish, but it’s a celebration of the renowned potatoes from Hokkaido. However, you can even find Imomochi in places like Gifu, Kochi, and Wakayama though they each make it their way with different potatoes and methods. 

When you’re in Hokkaido, don’t forget to try imomochi because it’s truly unique when compared with many other rice cake flavors. And it’s a savory bite that captures the spirit of this fantastic island.

Looking to enjoy regional delicacies like imomochi? Check out Sakuraco! Sakuraco delivers traditional Japanese sweets and snacks from across Japan to your door every month!

Where can I buy imomochi in Japan?

In Japan, there are several places where you can quickly satisfy your craving for delicious imomochi. From traditional teahouses to bustling street food stalls, the options are abundant. You can head to local markets, where vendors serve freshly made imomochi with various savory options like cheese or vegetables. Additionally, many specialty dessert shops and confectioneries offer unique twists on imomochi, ensuring a delightful and mouthwatering experience.

Konbini (Convenience store)

A konbini is like a mini supermarket where you can find snacks and ready-to-eat items. And, of course, this place sells hot and crispy Imomochi for you to enjoy right away.

Konbini’s imomochi is round and filled with Myohta cheese. These mochi cakes have great fatness and light sweetness, so harmonious that you might not feel sick of Imomochchi despite eating it too much. Most Japanese convenience stores, such as 7-11 or Family Mart, serve similar cheese Imomochi.

A cheese filled imomochi.
Some imomochi even has a cheese filling! Image via Shutterstock

Izakaya (Japanese pub)

When finding imomochi, an izakaya is the go-to spot for most people. The imomochi found in izakayas is a delightful treat with its crispy exterior and soft, glutinous interior. These mochi rice cakes are commonly served with a delicious drizzle of tare, a sweet soy sauce to enhance the flavors. Combining textures and the savory-sweet taste make imomochi popular among izakaya patrons.

Rishiriya Minoya 

Rishiriya Minoya is a traditional shop located in Otaru City on Hokkaido. This is a shop that sells Konbu (dried seaweed), but it also serves potato rice cake. If you’re looking for a place where Imomochi has the authentic taste of Hokkaido, you should visit this place. The grilled imomochi here is shaped like mini potatoes and has the sweet taste of shoyu. Moreover, these cakes are also famous for their sticky and fluffy texture.

Easy Imomochi Recipe (serves four people)

Ingredients

  • Four medium-sized potatoes (400g)
  • Four tablespoons of potato starch
  • Three tablespoons water
  • Two tablespoons of cooking oil
  • Two tablespoons sake (rice wine)
  • A pinch of salt
  • Two tablespoons sugar
  • Two tablespoons water
  • Tare Sauce
  • Seaweed
A plate of imomochi with salads on the side. It different from rice cake flavors.
Some imomochi comes with a salad! Image via Shutterstock

Instructions

Step 1: Peel the potatoes and place them in a microwave-safe plastic bag. Microwave for 6 minutes (500W) until a skewer (or a chopstick) easily pierces through.

Step 2: Mash the potatoes in the bag. Add salt, potato starch, and water. Mix until you have a soft dough that can be formed into balls.

Step 3: Divide the dough into ten portions and wrap each piece in plastic. Freeze them for later use.

Step 4: Heat butter in a pan. Add a dough portion and cook until golden brown. Flip it, and add Tare sauce and sake. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Step 5. Open the lid, flip the dough to make it thicker, and drizzle more Tare sauce on top.

Step 6: Enjoy your delicious Imomochi! Optionally, wrap them with seaweed for extra flavor.

This recipe for Imomochi is simple and easy to follow, suitable for kids to make with adult supervision. 

When you have a chance to visit Hokkaido, don’t miss out on this beautiful potato treat that rivals even the best rice cake flavors! Also, you can now recreate the fascinating fusion of traditional Imomochi with our easy-to-follow recipe, bringing the lovely flavors of Hokkaido to your kitchen. Enjoy your homemade Imomochi treats! Let us know how this recipe worked for you in the comments below!

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