Mochi is a traditional Japanese
food made from pounded glutinous rice
, also known as sweet or sticky rice. Despite being called "glutinous", this rice does not contain gluten
and so should not be problematic for people with allergies
to it. It is cholesterol
free and low in fat.
While rather bland on its own, mochi easily takes on a range of flavours and textures and can be deep-fried, baked, grilled, stuffed, used as dumplings in a soup, or treated as a dessert or sweet.
Mochi is often readily available at health food shops as well as at Japanese markets. It is not terribly complex to make, but the process is time consuming and requires some physical exertion. Consequently, a family or gathering of people will come together and cook and pound out a huge quantity of mochi all at once.
How To Make Mochi
Soak glutinous rice overnight. Place the rice in a wooden steaming box with a removeable bamboo bottom and place over a pot of boiling water. (Or just boil the rice.) When the rice is completely cooked, in fact a little
over-cooked, remove from the heat and slide out the bamboo base of the box and transfer the rice to a large stone or wooden mortar (or perhaps a very large shallow bowl set on the floor).
Mush the rice about a bit with a wooden mallet (perhaps a meat tenderizing mallet will do). Push the rice down into the mortar as hard as you can. Now bring the mallet down on the rice with quite a bit of force but not enough to cause it to spill. When using a traditional mallet and mortar, this would be done standing; if you are using a wooden bowl set on the floor, then kneel in front of it. As the rice becomes mashed together, begin to strike it with more and more force.
When it has become a paste, knead it several times and then continue to pound it with the mallet. Repeat this process until the rice has become one solid, indistinguishable mass. Roll the mochi into a ball. If you can do this, it is done.
Take the ball of mochi to a work table and roll it out with a rolling pin. Cut it into 1 inch or 1 1/2 inch pieces.
If you would like to read a few things that you can do with either home-made or purchased mochi then you are welcome to go here.