The fresh, warm, and chewy mochi are the staples of the Japanese new year. A traditional mochi only has one simple ingredient of mochi-gome (sweet rice), but the process and the custom of making mochi are had a deep tradition and are a communal affair.
How the mochi is made
The traditional mochi making is a community event and still exists in small neighborhoods during winter celebration festivals. To make mochi, sweet rice is soaked overnight, cooked in a steamer, then pounded in usu (wooden mortar) and kine (wooden pounding stick) with 3-4 people alternatively to create the right texture. -see the picture below.
Once the mochi reaches the right consistency, mochi is then shaped in different sizes and shapes. For example, some mochi is small circular discs for casual eating. Some are flat large rectangle sheets to be sliced later. But the most notable ones are of two large discs (one representing the sun and one moon) and stack them for new year’s decoration, and offerings to the deceased and gods who in return deliver good luck and fortune to the family.
How to enjoy mochi
Regardless of its shapes and sizes, how you like to enjoy mochi is entirely up to you and your family, but here are the most common ways to enjoy it: with sweetened red beans, sugar, and soy powder (kinako), or soy sauce and nori. They are also deliciously grilled, broiled, and in soups. When they are dry and hard, frying them in oil makes them into crunchy and delicious snacks.
Making mochi using a stand mixer
Although one wishes to be a part of the mochi-making community to enjoy the traditional mochi, here is a way to enjoy making mochi at home without conventional equipment but using a stand mixer. The result? Almost as good as ones in Japan! So give it a try and enjoy delicious mochi from the comfort of your own home.
Enjoy mochi, and Happy New Year.
- Please give the standard mixer a break between making mochi as it can be hard on them. Mine got very warm after 3-5 minutes of mixing mochi.
- When eating mochi, please eat small portions and chew well. Every year, Japan reports death related to choking on mochi. When feeding small children and the elderly, make sure to cut mochi into small pieces.
- standard mixer with dough hook and flat beater Kitchen Aid
- Bamboo steamer (3-4 stacks or steam rice in two batches)
- 2-4 cheesecloth (large enough to overflow each stack)
- Baking sheet lightly covered with corn starch
- 4 cups sweet rice Sho Chiku Bai or similar
- corn starch enough to dust the baking sheet
- Gather ingredients.
- Wash the sweet rice. Soak the rice overnight in a cool place with enough cold water to cover the rice.
- Drain the rice and divide the rice into 3-4. Place the rice on a steamer with sarashi or cheesecloth overhanging the steamer. Fold the excess fabric lightly over the rice. Steam the rice for 30 minutes. Note: you need 3-4 stacks of a steamer, if not, work in two batches.
- Carefully lift the steamed rice with the cheesecloth and transfer it into the standard mixer. Mix the rice on medium to high speed for about 2 minutes using the dough hook. After two minutes, take a damped spatula and scrape the sides of the mixer. Mix again for another two minutes.
- After scraping the sides again, change the hook to a beating hook and repeat #4. At this point, the rice should be very sticky and elastic.
- Transfer the mochi onto the baking sheet with cornstarch and shape them into flat discs.
- Enjoy your mochi with kinako and sugar (soy powder), sweetened red beans, or soy sauce and nori sheet. Picture: zenzai, a broiled mochi in red bean soup