First, rinse the salt-pickled sakura leaves also known as cherry blossom leaves. If they are too salty, soak the leaves in water for about 30 minutes.
Remove the moisture with a paper towel. Cut off the firm leafstalks.
Rinse the sticky rice and soak it in a large amount of water for about 1 hour. Thoroughly soaking the sticky rice will help to make the soft and delicious mochi.
Drain and cook it with a regular amount of water.
Now, the rice is ready.
Purée the strawberry jam with a fine mesh strainer to remove the small seeds. There are many ways to add pink color but we used strawberry jam in this recipe.
Combine the rice and the jam evenly.
Wet a surikobi pestle and pound the rice until the size of the grains almost halves.
Divide the anko and the mochi into 12 equal pieces.
Wet your hands to avoid sticking and shape the mochi piece into a ball. Then, flaten the mochi with your fingertips.
Place the anko, sweet bean paste onto it and spread the mochi around it.
Shape it into an oval.
And wrap the mochi with the sakura leaf. With the underside facing up, the leaf texture is more visually appealing.
Repeat the process to wrap the rest of the sakura mochi. The aroma of the sakura leaves is so appetizing!
Authentic Kansai-style sakura mochi uses domyojiko, a type of coarsely ground sticky rice but you can also substitute regular sticky rice instead.
If the sakura leaves are soft, you can enjoy them along with the mochi. The slight saltiness will bring out the sweetness and the aroma will make you want more.
The sakura mochi can be stored in the freezer. When you thaw, let it sit at room temperature until soft.