Mochi! Mochi! Mochi!
Let me tell you about the traditional way of making mochi.
It is quite complicated and labor intensive.
First Step: Soak polished rice overnight and then cook the rice until it is soft in texture.
Second Step: The cooked rice is now pounded with a huge, heavy, wooden mallet (kine) in a traditional wooden mortar (usu). Mochi rice is very sticky and gets hard fast so it needs to be consistently wetted, pounded, and turned. Because this requires a lot of physical power it is best to have two people taking turns pounding the mochi rice with the heavy mallets. If you are ever in Japan, give it a try! Not only is it great exercise, but you can say that you were part of a very old japanese tradition.
Third Step: After the rice has been pounded into a paste, it becomes a sticky mass which is now ready to be molded into various shapes for many uses.
Now that you have learned the traditional way of making mochi, now I can tell you more about the way it is used in different foods.
During the Japanese New Year, mochi is used in many ways:
- Kagami mochi (mirror mochi), which is formed of two spheres and placed one on top of the other, is placed on the family altar in the house
- Rice cake made from mochi is used in a soup called zoni soup, which is a clear soup flavored with dashi and soy sauce
- Kinako mochi is eaten for luck and prepared by roasting it over a fire and stove and dipped into a mixture of soy, water, and sugar
Mochi is also eaten on regular days as a snack, dessert, or as a meal:
- Mochi is used in a sweet azuki bean soup called oshiruko to warm up the Japanese during the winter months
- Mochi is roasted and used as a topping for an udon noodle soup called chikara udon
- Mochi is used to make the outer covering for a mochi ice cream
- Mochi is used as a dessert topping for frozen yogurt chains such as Pinkberry, Red Mango, Cefiore, and Tuttimelon, and many more
- Mochi is used to make a Japanese dumpling called dango
- Mochi is used to make Japanese confectionary such as daifuku, which is mochi stuffed with sweet fillings