Make Japanese Mochi (Sweet Rice and Red Bean) Treats
What Is Mochi?
Mochi is a tasty Japanese treat available year-round but is traditionally made to celebrate the New Year. It consists of sweet rice pounded into flour that is steamed and used as dough to cover a ball of filling, typically red bean paste. They are usually covered in dry rice flour because they are sticky, but they can also be rolled in sesame seeds or ground nuts to add extra flavor. Personally, I like the contrast between the sweet chewy mochi and the crunch and texture provided by the sesame seeds or nuts.
While traditional methods are time-consuming, mochi can also be made quickly by using store-bought sweet rice flour, as I do in the recipe below.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups Mochiko (sweet rice flour), plus extra for dusting
- 1 cup sugar
- Filling optional
- Sesame seeds or ground nuts for coating optional
- Food dye (green and pink are traditional) optional
- Sift sweet rice flour into a bowl.
- Mix the sugar into the flour. Then, add the water. Add the food coloring now if you're changing the colors.
- Steam the mixture in a steamer or microwave. If you're using the steamer, pour the mixture into an oiled bowl and steam for about 45 minutes until the dough is gummy. If you use a microwave, pour the mixture into an oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap and microwave it for 15 minutes.
- Once the dough is ready, dust a board and your hands with some sweet rice flour and knead the dough until it has a smooth texture.
- Shape the dough into individual balls for use or flatten the balls and use them to cover a filling.
- (Optional) Roll the mochi in sesame seeds (white or black) after wetting the exterior of the ball. You can also substitute ground nuts (walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts work nicely) for the seeds if you prefer.
How to Use Mochi
In addition to the dishes above, mochi serves a prominent role in other recipes as well.
- Ice Cream: Mochi ice cream is made by filling mochi with ice cream flavors like mango, chocolate, red bean, and green tea. Mochi ice cream is available in the U.S. at Trader Joe's and other grocery stores.
- Soup: Pieces of mochi can be added to various Japanese soups such as Oshiruko, a sweet adzuki bean soup; Chikara, a soup with noodles; and Zoni, a traditional vegetable soup also eaten for the New Year.
How to Make Mochi
- Mochi's roots stretch back to the cooked rice cakes of ancient China.
- Mochi appears in Japanese literature as early as the 700s (the eighth century).
- The word "mochi" likely comes from "mochizuki", which is Japanese for "full moon." In Japan, those looking up at night do not see the Man in the Moon but rather a rabbit pounding rice on his mortar.
Which mochi is better?
Homemade or Storebought?
Your turn: What do you think of our Mochi recipe?
Do you like eating mochi?
Did you enjoy reading this article? Would you like to leave some feedback, or just make a suggestion? I'm always glad to hear about what you'd like to see here!
© 2011 Chazz