Sunday, January 3, 2010

Isobeyaki

Mochi

Happy New Year everyone! As I grew up in Japan, for me, this is the most exciting and biggest holiday of the year. One of the Japanese new year’s traditions is to make fresh mochi from scratch and eat it for breakfast on the New Year’s day and perhaps until they get tired of eating it for the rest of the month. This is not the sweet mochi that most people outside of Japan are familiar. There is no sugar added.

My parents own a mochi machine, which works just like a bread machine. All you do is to simply add mochi rice and water and when you pop open the lid several hours later, out comes steamy hot, sticky & elastic fresh mochi. In some places, people still make mochi the old fashion way, which is to cook the mochi rice and to pound on it with a huge wooden hammer.

Mochi

I have neither mochi machine or wooden hammer in my little place, but I also didn’t need to cook as much as people normally make for an entire family with extended relatives. So I tried cooking mochi rice in a regular rice cooker and mashed the rice with a French rolling pin. It actually worked pretty well. However, I apparently cooked the rice with too much water. My mochi was little too soft and runny. (Yeah, “runny” should never be used to describe mochi.) To fix the problem, I lined the mochi in a shallow dish, covered the top with mesh and let it dry as much as possible. It certainly helped and the surface did become firm, but I didn’t realize the inside still remained wet and gooey until I started baking them on the New Year’s morning.

Mochi

(left top: showing the difference between brown rice and mochi rice
(aka sweet rice))

Isobeyaki

Isobeyaki: grilled mochi is made by simply grilling (usually I use a toaster oven, but you can bake them on a non-stick skillet also), dipping in soy sauce and wrapping them in Nori (seaweed that’s used to roll sushi).
Mine was still edible and taste-wise it was ok, but definitely too soft. Next year, I’ll do a better job for sure. ;)

Isobeyaki

This is the store-bought kind. It should puff up like this when you cook them. That’s also when you know that it’s ready to remove from the heat and dip in soy sauce. Isobeyaki must be eaten immediately as they become hard and the nori gets soggy. You can find these mochi in any Japanese grocery stores, especially in this time of the year. If you like sweet mochi, you will like this kind, too.

Isobeyaki

20 comments:

  1. GREAT pictures!! This was a DELICIOUS way to start 2010

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  2. Even if it's not technically correct, I think your soft isobeyaki look tantalizing!

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  3. Your pictures look beutiful. I appreciate your willingness to try a new technique i.e. rice cooker. That's the beauty of cooking, using creative thought.

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  4. This is quite interesting! I didn't know mochi could be that simple. My husband and I have been visiting many Japanese restaurants in New York and we feel like we have so much to learn. This is a great informative post on mochi.

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  5. Wow, that's about all I can say. It never would have occurred to me to go to all the effort that you went through. If my results were half as good as yours, I'd be delighted.

    SheSimmers had a great post on the pounding portion of the ceremony. Looked like a great way to work off stress.

    Your recipe with the nori and dipping sauce would rock my husband's world. I have to try this - Happy New Year and thanks for sharing!

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  6. Maybe next time you can just slap some extra flour in your runny mochi. I imagine it wouldn't hurt it much?

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  7. Lovely photos! I love the French rolling pin mochi! ;) That is awesome. My family made 250 pounds of mochi with two big machines. Exhausting but a nice tradition for our family. Wishing you a wonderful new year!!!

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  8. Looks terrific! Do you happen to know how to use a mochi machine to make brown rice mochi? there is a health food store nearby that sells organic sweet brown rice(in addition to the regular sweet white rice), so I was just wondering. Any hints would be terrific! Maybe just soak it longer than the white rice???

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  9. >Rachel
    You are too nice. LOL

    >sarah
    I actually agree. As far as appearances go, I think mine looks better than the store bought kind. LOL
    Next time I will try making one that looks and tastes good!

    >Anonymous
    Getting creative is part of the fun of cooking! ;)

    >Fresh Local and Best
    This is definitely not restaurant food. Sometimes you can find it in Izakaya, but not very commonly. The best way to try is to get mochi from a Japanese grocery store and make your own at home.

    >Oyster Culture
    Doesn't it look fun? Though I've never participated in the pounding part. I used to be one of those kids in line to get freshly made mochi on New Year's day! LOL

    >Seiji
    Actually potato starch or cornstarch is used in making sweet mochi, so it might work on this kind, too. Good thinking!

    >Food Librarian
    Yeah I read your post! Impressive!!

    >Darcy
    You are one step ahead of me!! LOL
    I really don't know the answer to that since I've never tried. But I'd think that soaking it overnight should be enough. Not sure about the amount of water though. If you ever try, let me know how it turns out. :)

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  10. Great post on mochi! Very informative and it looks scrumptious!

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  11. Wonderful to learn more about mochi! Delicious stuff! Happy New Year! I grew up in former Soviet Union where New Year was (and still is) the biggest holiday of all :)

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  12. My husband wanted to try to pound the mochi dough with those big round sticks (what are they called?) while we were visiting my family in Korea. I love your blog by the way!

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  13. Oh my goodness! How fabulous is this?? I haven't tried making my own mochi yet, but you have definitely inspired me. Beautiful photos and amazing post overall! Thanks for sharing :)

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  14. >Sook
    It's called Kine in Japanese.

    Thank you Stacy, 5 Star Foodie and Tokyoterrace!

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  15. Haha! Like Sook, this post reminded me of people pounding on a rice flour mixture with big, wooden mallets when I was little.

    The soft, chewy texture...it's awesome!

    BTW: I ran into fancy okra at the grocery store. Are they less disgusting than regular okra? :P

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  16. >Sean
    No, but kimchi is scarier than okra mucous.

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  17. we were on the same page today Em LOL!

    Maybe I can make okra kimchi so it grosses both of us out :)

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  18. it would have been totally cool to see you a big wooden hammer :)

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