What is it? Mochi is a Japanese dish created from glutenous rice, usually sweetened but not always, pounded into shape, and can be filled with just about anything you desire. Traditionally mochi are made to celebrate the new year and are filled with an - a sweetened red bean paste.
On New Year's Eve Wifey's mom came over and supervised our creating of mochi because, well, we have no idea what we are doing. Here's the basic recipe we used:
1 box of Mochiko
2 3/4 cups of water
3 cups of sugarThe first item is this, mochiko - sweet rice flour, and can be found at any Japanese food store (we shop at Uwajimaya in Portland). The above is a little misleading because you need either more mochiko or cornstarch (or powdered sugar, we've read but not tried) for dusting the finished product, plus whatever you are going to use for filling.
You are also going to need some rather unique items, such as these:
These can also be found at a Japanese store and are the Japanese versions of a mortar and pestle. The bowl, called a suribachi, has many thin ridges on the inside in varying directions, which is key for the later steps of pounding the mochi. The stick is, well, for pounding.
You will also need a steamer of some sort and a cheesecloth.
First you mix the box of Mochiko and the sugar together. Add water and mix slowly, until you have a smooth mixture. You may not need all the water the recipe suggests, but knowing exactly how much is a fine line we haven't mastered yet. Wifey's mom was skeptical when we put it all in, saying it was too much, and she ended up being right. I have no idea how to determine what is too much.
After the steamer is ready, put the cheesecloth in it and pour the mochiko/sugar/water mixture in, making sure to keep it all inside the cloth. Cover the steamer and let it do it's magic for 20 minutes or so, until the mixture thickens and becomes more clear rather than milky. It should still be malleable and not completely hold it's shape.
Then you pour the mixture into the special bowl and the fun part begins. At the beginning this will be a little lumpy and the point of pounding the mixture is to smooth everything out. Pound away. Don't stop until the mixture loses any lumpiness and starts to take on an almost glue-like texture.
This may take awhile. Switch hands or switch people, as necessary. Did I mention this is not a one person job? Also, don't get this stuff on your clothes. It's not just "like" glue; I'm pretty sure it has alternative uses.
See this below? It's the an, a paste of red beans (azuki), sugar and salt. There are recipes for this, but it's also sold as a finished product at Japanese food stores. No matter what size you buy it will be way, way too much for a batch of mochi.
After the beating of the mochi, we poured the whole thing out on our marble pastry board we dusted with additional mochiko. For this batch, this was the point we realized there was too much moisture because it was super, super, super sticky. Here you should be able to rip off a chunk (it's still hot, just a warning) and form a nice ball, but ours was simply a sticky mess. We had to use way too much extra mochiko and then wait for it to cool a bit, which isn't ideal.
The general flow is you take a chunk of the mixture, roll it into a ball so the edges are smooth, make a dent in the middle and put in about a tablespoon of an, and then wrap it all up, sealing the edges. Then you get this:
See the one closest to the camera on the left? That was one I did. Don't make them look like that. Instead, they should look like the one to the right of that, which Wifey's mom did. That's the difference between an amateur and a pro.
Mochi food porn shot:
We were making these for the family New Year's celebration, so they got fancy cupcake wrappers.
Gratuitous finished mochi pic:
Super yummy. I'm not even a big fan of an, but once a year, in mochi, it's just the right thing to do.
Remember above how I mentioned all kind of things could be done to the mochi? Well, on the mochiko box is a recipe for Cocoa Mochi - no way were we going to let that go unmade. Plus, it's done in the microwave so it doesn't take very long at all.
Plus, we had some pretty damn good cocoa powder in the cupboard to use. Mmm, Valrhona...
Here is the chocolatey goodness that got whisked with the mochiko.
After microwaving everything together, we poured it into a Pyrex dish with parchment paper on top and bottom so we could easily get it out when it cooled for cutting.
It actually turned out very nicely. It had the normal soft consistency of mochi and a pleasant amount of chocolate flavor; noticeable, but not too much. Unfortunately that's the last picture I have because we were in a hurry when it came to cutting it and heading out to the family function. We kept some extra and set it aside, but notice the part in the recipe at the end where it says "store in airtight container and refrigerate"?
You should definitely do that. We didn't and we got some white spots on our leftover cocoa mochi, so we threw them out before taking another pic (sad face here). Trust me when I say it was really good, much easier to make than the other recipe, and you should try it.
Oh, and if you see this at the store, buy it:
Seriously, just do it. The Kona coffee one (you heard that right) is outstanding and I also really like the strawberry and vanilla. The ice cream inside the mochi is pretty dang good - good flavor, creamy - and one of these little guys is a nice little snack. At only 100 calories (I was surprised too) you won't have to spend too much extra time in the gym either.
So is homemade mochi worth it? I think it is. You can buy it in the stores, but it's honestly just not as good as fresh from your own kitchen. Even if it is a crapload of work.