Sunday, January 3, 2010
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.
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.
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. ;)
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.