What is Mochi?
Mochi is a stretchy, chewy Japanese treat made from sticky rice that has made it to the taste buds of delighted eaters all over the world. It originally hailed from China, but after Japan fell in love with it more than one thousand years ago, Japanese mochi soon took on religious and spiritual significance. It was given as an offering to the gods, represented a long life and good fortune, and was incorporated into many cultural traditions. Japanese mochi has long been considered an iconic national dish, and it is especially enjoyed during Japanese festivals and holidays.
How is Mochi Made?
Traditionally, mochi is made from sticky rice flour called mochigome, a glutinous short-grained rice. It is a customary New Year’s food in Japan, although it’s eaten other times of year as well. For centuries, mochi has been produced in quite an elaborate ceremony called mochitsuki, especially during New Year’s festivals. Whole grains of sticky rice are soaked, steamed, then pounded in mortars with long wooden mallets for hours.
These days, sweet and sticky rice flour called mochiko can be used instead of starting with whole grains of mochigome sticky rice. Rather than pounding rice for most of the day, water is simply added to the mochiko rice flour and it is mixed by hand or by machine. After that, the paste is cooked on the stove or in the microwave. Once it is formed into the desired shape and optional fillings are added, mochi can be eaten as is boiled or baked.
What are Some Different Kinds of Mochi?
Most people think of mochi as a sweet, round dessert bun. Marumochi is the round mochi ball shape that most have come to know. Dessert mochi with a filling inside is broadly called daifuku. Traditionally, marumochi is a style of daifuku that has a sweet red bean paste (anko) center. Other fillings include sesame, custard, strawberries, peanut butter, and more. The mochi shell can come in different flavors and colors as well, such as pink cherry and matcha green tea. Invented by L.A.’s Frances Hashimoto, mochi ice cream is one of the popular newcomers on the mochi scene.
Mochi doesn’t always take the form of a round and sweet bun. It can be savory and varies considerably in flavor and presentation. There are many different types of savory Japanese mochi, including puffy, deep fried agemochi and crispy grilled cakes added to miso soup (ozoni).
How To Make Mochi
Here’s a simple daifuku mochi recipe using the microwave. This recipe calls for mochiko (sticky rice flour) and makes about 12 mochi servings. (Warning: it’s a very sticky affair, but it’s worth it!)
- Combine ¾ cups mochiko and ¼ cup sugar in a large bowl.
- Whisk together, add ¾ cups water, and stir again.
- Cover bowl with plastic film and microwave on high for 1 minute.
- Remove from microwave and stir with a silicone spatula, scraping the sides of the bowl.
- Re-cover and microwave again for 1 minute.
- Repeat one more time, but this time microwave for only 30 seconds.
- Make sure your hands are dry. Line a tray with parchment paper and coat the tray with potato or cornstarch.
- Lay the sticky dough blob on the tray, dust it with potato or cornstarch, and flatten the blob.
- Have a filling of choice ready, such as anko red bean paste.
- Divide and form into mochi balls and pinch closed at the bottom.
- Insert your finger inside the ball to make space for the filling.
- Put a desired amount of filling inside the ball and cover the opening with dough
- Sprinkle more potato or cornstarch on all the dough balls.
- Enjoy with a nice cup of Japanese tea.
- Keep covered in the refrigerator, but eat within two days, or the mochi will stiffen.
Where to Buy Mochi
Not everyone wants to undertake the sticky task of making mochi from scratch. Luckily, it can also be bought premade from Bokksu's online collection. Why not try out Fujiya Nectar Peach Mochi, made with real peach juice? Or perhaps Setouchi Lemon Mochi, or even Walnut Mochi? No matter what mochi you're in the mood for, Bokksu has these amazing Japanese snacks and much more.
By Megan Taylor Stephens