Tag Archives: mochi

Ready for a Pounding? Let’s making mochi!

29 Jul
Making Mochi

Two Ladies Making Mochi

Please excuse the reference, but I can’t describe it any other way. Imagine the perfect breast, and now imagine that it stands on its own, without a body. Cup it in your hands and massage it lightly. Can you feel the give in your palm? The smoothness of the skin and the softness of what it holds inside? That, my friends, is the feel of one of the world’s most perfect foods – mochi.

Made from mochi-gome (= “mochi rice” or glutinous rice) mochi, eaten fresh, is a tender, chewy ball of amazement. Pure heaven. Dusted with kinako (soy bean powder) or filled with an (a sweet red or white bean paste) this pounded rice treat is the perfect accompaniment to a bitter cup of green tea. Leave it to the next day, and you can grill it over coals or toast it in the oven, then roll it in sugary soy sauce and wrap it in a crisp piece of ajitsuke-nori (seasoned dried seaweed) for a chewy, satisfying breakfast. Chop it up and use it in okonomiyaki, mix it with herbs for yomogimochi, use it to cement the beams of your home, there is almost nothing it can’t do!

Chewy yet tender, with a firmness that gives and yet fights back, the texture is so distinctive that the Japanese have used its name twice to describe anything with a similar feel. With a love for doubling onomatopoeic sounds to describe textures (shaki-shaki describes the light crunch of cucumbers, pari-pari, crispiness of rice crackers) the coupled adjective mochi-mochi is used to describe (and promote) anything from bread to the promised texture of your skin. Incomparable to anything that the western palate is accustomed to – mochi-mochi has to be experienced to be understood.

If you live near a health-food store or grocery market with an array of “vegetarian” products (shudder… not because of meatlessness, but because of the horrid fakery of it all…) you may be familiar with a product marketed as “mochi”. This hard, grey, brown or green square puck is mochi in name only. I don’t know what it is, or what it’s meant to be, but it sure as he&& ain’t mochi!!

So, without the technology to send some mochi through the screen, here’s my best substitute. Instructions on how to make your own! Be prepared, mochi requires special rice, some special equipment, and a lot of elbow grease. Get ready for some pounding. Let’s making mochi!

Ingredients for Mochi:

  • Mochi-gome (glutinous rice – a special, extremely sticky type of rice)
  • Mochi-ko (glutinous rice powder)

How to make Mochi:

1. Steam the mochi-gome until the grains are easily squished between your thumb and forefinger.

Steamy!

2. Pound the rice. Put it into a mochi making machine and run it until the rice becomes one shiny, smooth, sticky ball. No mochi machine? Find a stone or wooden mortar and giant wooden hammer, and pound away, having a brave (or stupid) friend turning it over between strikes. Have a bowl of water handy to cool off your brave/stupid friends’ hands, as the rice is steaming hot and extremely sticky.

Ready for a Pounding!

3. Shape the balls. Once ready, transfer the pounded mochi into a large bowl generously dusted with mochi-ko and cover the dough with mochi-ko. Pinch off a small piece, and gather edges to the middle, squishing the sticky mochi together, and creating a tight “belly button” in the centre. Turn over and then shape into a smooth ball.

Pinch it!

4. Fill the balls if you wish, with sweet bean paste by stretching out the dough and pressing a ball into the centre. Pull the dough around the bean paste and stick it together at one central point, rolling the ball to smooth it out.

5. Flatten the ball and set the mochi on a surface generously floured with mochi-ko. Alternatively, roll it in kinako or other coating of your choice. Flip it over after it firms up a bit, to ensure that you get a puck shape rather than a mountain shaped piece of dough.

You can almost feel their softness!

6. Store the mochi in an airtight Ziploc bag at room temperature, or in the freezer for later use.

Let’s enjoy the chewiness of hand-rolled balls!

Forking in Japan: Highlights from Days 3 – 10

11 Jul

It’s been 10 full days since I arrived, and so far, it has been a whirlwind of forking delights. Here are just some of the forking highlights from days 3 – 10:

Tororo Soba

Tororo Soba: Cold soba noodles with a soy sauce and fish stock based sauce, topped with grated yamaimo and nameko mushrooms, garnished with shiso leaves and nori. Made by my host, Masayo.

Bukkake SomenBukkake Somen: Cold somen noodles with a stock-based cool soup, topped with tempura. Made by Mayumi, wife of a former co-teacher.

Takana Cha-hanTakana Cha-han: Fried rice with takana pickles and jako (baby sardines). Made by me. And if I do say so myself, sooooo forking yummy.

AwabiAwabi: Like an oyster, but larger, delicious raw with a squeeze of lime juice and accompanied by thinly sliced myouga (fresh ginger shoots)

Yomogi MochiYomogi Mochi: A sweet, pounded sticky rice treat filled with red beans. The mochi in this case is pounded together with yomogi, a medicinal herb, which lends the mochi its green colour and a special flavour.

BeekariiPanya-san: Or, in English, the bakery. Filled with goodies such as mentaiko french bread, chestnut “cherry blossom” shaped buns, custard-filled cornets, and many, many more soft, white, buttery breads. Definitely not a place for the gluten intolerant or anyone with any hope of sticking to the Atkin’s diet.

and only in Japan…

Coffee and CigarettesCoffee and Cigarettes: When was the last time your coffee was presented to you with an ashtray?

Rusk lineHayari-mono: Things in Japan become fads, or hayari-mono, very quickly and with a degree to which wouldn’t be seen in North America. We stood in what would have been an hour and a half (we wouldn’t have made our train) for what appears to be a sweet version of dried out, toasted french bread – “Rusk” (http://www.gateaufesta-harada.com/app/home.html)

Pon de Ring

Maccha Pon de Ring donut: Ah, Mr. Donut, the Tim Horton’s of Japan, where you can get a mochi-textured (chewy) maccha flavoured donut, filled with condensed milk and dipped in maccha chocolate.

mmmmm… Japan is forking delicious.