Friday, October 21, 2011

Mochi Making

The Mule wielding the Mochi Hammer
Mochi is a chewy rice cake made from mochi rice and water. As a foreigner I first saw it made at a New Year's event where mochi pounding was done with big hammers. I had no idea that mochi could be made at home using mochi rice. There are special machines that make mochi, but mostly you buy it in shops, purchase it as dried bricks to grill in the toaster, or use mochi powder to mix up the balls to boil at home. Kendo Mama's bread machine makes mochi, but, alas, mine does not. Not to be deterred, I wanted to lay eyes on the process to determine how to do it with my rice cooker and Kitchen Aid mixer.

This method uses both a rice cooker and standing mixer. You must use mochi rice which is a short grain rice that differs from regular Japanese rice, and put the hot rice immediately into the stand mixer with the dough hook on after the rice is cooked. Fresh mochi made this way has a natural sweetness and though a tad grainy compared to mochi pounded out in shops with thwacking machines here in Japan, this works and satisfies the taste buds and yields the chewy texture.

Then it's all about the toppings. My children's favorites are kinako powder and black sesame paste both mixed with a bit of sugar, but you can dip the pieces of mochi into nearly anything, think peanut butter, nutella, or soy sauce with a small knob of butter.

Have a bowl of water at hand and a pair of kitchen scissors to work with it. Place some water in a shallow dish for the mochi to sit. Keep a small bowl of water to dip fingers and kitchen scissors. Fresh mochi is sticky. Cut off pieces of mochi and dip them in the toppings. Prepare the toppings while the mixer is stretching the mochi.

Fresh Mochi in a Stand Mixer
Mochi Rice, 3 cups
Water, 3 cups

Start with dry Mochi rice, do not substitute the kind of rice. Rinse, wash, and drain the rice three times. For the final drain, let it sit for 30 minutes. Cook the rice in a rice cooker. Immediately after cooking, put the hot rice into the stand mixer (cover with a towel to keep it warm) and knead with a dough hook for about 40 minutes until it is one mass of sticky white dough. It is done when all mixed together and formed into a mass. In a shallow dish place a bit of water and the fresh mochi. Using a small bowl of water, keep your fingers and scissors wet to cut the mochi into small pieces to eat. Serve with toppings such as kinako powder (finely ground roasted soybeans) with a bit of sugar added, barley or maple syrup, anko or sweetened red bean paste, chocolate syrup, sesame paste mixed with sugar, peanut butter, etc. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and eaten within a day. You can even dry it out if you have a spot that is dry enough and not disturbed, but I haven't done this.

My friend says this is their Saturday morning breakfast routine. Try it!

Mochi at home- serve with toppings