Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Monkey's Guide to Mochi

In dispersing my treats and experiments to friends and coworkers, I discovered that some people (one in particular) have very specific "gluten free" needs. This became the inspiration to go outside of the 'baking' box by making Mochi, which is a gluten-free rice flour based treat. Unfortunately, I think a few things might have spilled out of the box in the meantime. But, you can't say I didn't try....

Here are some distinct characteristics of mochi that may present a problem in the creation process.

Characterstic #1: Mochi is very sticky. If it were a person, I would call Mochi 'clingy' and suggest some very effective self help books.
Characterstic #2: Mochi retains heat and can get very hot when microwaved for 7 minutes. Well, I guess that could apply to anything.
Characterstic #3: Mochi lures in not-so-bright cooks [insert my name here] into believing that making it is painless and fun.
The result of combining all three characteristics: Searing hot mochi stuck to your fingers causing second and third degree burns.

So before starting, and depending on how clumsy you are, you may want to thoroughly cover yourself in rice flour or potato starch before attempting to make this sticky treat. Sneak up behind your significant other and yell "Boo!" and then return to the kitchen to continue with your mochi. Stop playing with your food, please.

I took a very basic recipe and improvised just a bit by adding some vanilla.

Basic Mochi

  • 1 cup Mochiko sweet rice flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then combine. Place the batter in a resealable plastic bag. Microwave for 3 1/2 minutes. Knead the dough while still in bag and nuke for another 3 1/2 minutes. LET COOL! Flour a surface with rice flour or potato starch. Use a cylindrical cookie cutter and fashion into cute balls
I decided to fill some with strawberries, blackberries, and a few with honey/peanut butter. When mochi is filled, the name changes to Daifuku. Who knew?

I have fond memories of making mochi in Japan many, many years ago. I also have fond memories of enjoying the fruits of my labor. This mochi was not as enjoyable. Maybe it's the difference between a few minutes in the microwave and 2 hours with a giant mortar and pestle.
Or maybe over the passing of time, my taste has changed. This could be possible.
Either way, I suggest trying them out for yourself if you have a flair for the exotic and unusual.


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