Making Mochi – Fun for Kids and Big Kids Alike

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When I first heard about mochi, my heart really went out to the children of Japan. You see, where I’m from, sweets really are just that: sweet. And so, when I was told that one of the most popular form of confectionaries in Japan was a cake made from rice and typically stuffed with beans, well I couldn’t help but think about what I would have made of that when I was a kid. Not all too impressed, I can tell you. That all changed once I actually got to try some of the stuff. It was was sweet, delicate and oh, so chewy. But it is at its best when it is freshly made.

There are two ways to make this classic Japanese dish, and while both can be lots of fun, one requires some old fashioned technique and a bit of hardware, and the other way is… well… decidedly easier. We’ll start with the traditional way.

Traditional Mochi Making

The classic way to make mochi is quite labor intensive and requires some pretty heavy duty hardware. It is made by using a type of rice called ‘mochigome’, a sticky, glutinous rice that is soaked overnight and then steamed in a wooden box called a ‘seirou’. Once ready, the rice is placed with some water in an ‘usu’, a mortar so large that it may take two people to maneuver it.

Next comes the fun part. Using a heavy wooden mallet called a ‘kine’, the mochi is hammered and pounded until it comes to resemble the sticky treat, after which it can be coated with various flavors such as ‘kinako’, soy sauce and wasabi, or it can be stuffed with red adzuki bean paste. Check out the video below to see how the real professionals do it. (And if you happen to be in Nara, I can highly recommend the mochi from this shop. It’s the best I’ve ever had!)

 

Of course, there is a good chance that you don’t have the mallets and mortars required just lying around your house. I tried for the first time at my local high school, and it was a lot of fun, if a little tiring, as the students repeatedly requested to see the ‘gaijin’ pound the rice. In fact, quite often schools, kindergartens and community groups will have events at which you and your kids can get involved, so it’s well worth asking around to see when such events will be held.

Modern Mochi Making

If your family can’t wait to get their teeth stuck into the delicious delicacy and you are afraid of what your little ones might do to your lovely home with a giant wooden mallet, there are a few much easier ways of making it, right at home in your kitchen, without a single swing of a hammer.

Making sweet mochi in the oven:

  • 500g Mochiko (glutinous rice flour, sometimes called sweet rice flour)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 0.5 can sweetened condensed milk (preferred for thicker sweeter mochi)
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • A few drops of food coloring (preferably red)
  • Katakuriko (potato starch) (cornstarch is also a substitute or variation)

Follow the instructions as outlined here.

Making green tea mochi in the microwave:

Follow the instructions as outlined here.

Making mochi with a steamer:

  • 1 cup Mochiko (sweet rice flour or Mochi flour) (160g)
  • 3/4 cup water (180ml)
  • 2 cups sugar (400g)
  • cornstarch
  • Anko (sweet red bean paste) or Green Tea Ice Cream (choose to preference).

Follow the instructions on the video here.

Making mochi with mortar and pestle:

  • Glutinous sweet rice (mochigome)
  • Potato or rice starch
  • Sugar, soy sauce, kinako or topping of your choice.

Follow the instructions here.

Mark Guthrie

Image by Gina-Marie Gattone (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via flickr.com (modified)

Video byGreat Big Story, via YouTube.com (modified)

Image by Ryan Ozawa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via flickr.com (modified)

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