Mochi is a rice cake from Japan made of sweet glutinous rice specially prepared and eaten during New Year celebrations in Japan. The dish has a translucent appearance with an elastic and sticky texture. It is also used to prepare other popular dishes like daifuku, or added to different types of soups and ice creams.
Mochi is prepared in a traditional Japanese ceremony called Mochitsuki. It is also sold in ready to eat form in stores during New Year season in Japan. It is also popular in other countries like Thailand, Taiwan, Cambodia and Korea.
History of Mochi
The history of the dish is as old as rice culture has been in Japan. Steamed glutinous rice was grounded in a mortar and spread on shelves in old times, and then cut into small pieces that were either grilled or boiled into a soup containing different types of vegetables. It has also been a traditional dish prepared during New Year celebrations, and is prepared in a ceremony called Mochitsuki.
Mochiko: This is sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour, which is made from mocha rice. It is easily available in stores in Japan.
Sugar: For sweetening the dish
Method of Preparation:
For preparing the dish, glutinous rice flour or mochiko is mixed with sugar and water. The mixture is cooked on high in a microwave in a covered dish. The mochi thus, prepared is allowed to cool, and then it is molded and cut to the desired size. Fillings of chocolates, nuts or red beans can also be added at this stage. It is dusted with potato starch, which prevents the pieces from sticking together.
Use of Mochi in other Japanese Dishes
- Ice Creams: Mochi ice cream is made by filling mocha with ice cream. It is commercially manufactured by Lotte of Japan and sold under the popular brand name of ‘Yukimi Daifuku’. Trader Joe’s and Mollie Stone’s are among some of the names that sell this type of ice cream in the US, in various flavors like mango, chocolate, red bean, green tea, coffee, etc. The ice cream is manufactured by Milkawaya in Los Angeles, which is a Japanese manufacturer. Pinkberry and Yogurtland are frozen dessert chains that top their desserts with mochi.
- Soups: Pieces of mochi are also added to various kinds of Japanese soups. One example is the mochi recipe Oshiruko, a sweet soup made of azuki beans, which is consumed by Japanese to warm their bodies in cold winter days. Chikara is a dish containing noodles and soups and topped with mochi. Zoni soup is a mochi recipe consumed on New Year, which contains various types of vegetables like carrots, honeywort and kamaboko.
- Confections: Many traditional sweet dishes from Japan are made using mochi as an ingredient. Daifuku is a popular dish which is made by stuffing round shaped mocha with a sweet filling made of red or white beans. Ichigo daifuku contains strawberry for filling.
Following are some of the popular related dishes-
- Kinako mochi is a mochi recipe prepared traditionally on New Year in Japan, which is considered to bring luck. It is prepared by roasting mochi on fire, and then dipping it in soya bean flour and sugar.
- Dango is a dumpling made of mochiko or sweet rice flour.
- Moffles is a mochi recipe that consists of a waffle made with toasted mochi in a waffle iron or more modernized specialized equipment.
- Warabimochi is a jelly like snack made from bracken starch and coated with sugar and flour of soya bean.
- Palitaw is a mochi recipe in Phillipines that is made of the Japanese dish mochi and sesame seeds.
Health and Nutrition Facts about Mochi
Mochi, the rice used to prepare the dish by the same name, is known to have a warming effect of the body and increase one’s energy levels. It is known have a beneficial effect on the stomach, pancreas and spleen.
It is easy to digest and hence it is good for people in need of nutritious food but have a weak digestion. Its stamina increasing property also makes it a favorite with laborers and farmers in Japan.
It is also beneficial in conditions of anemia, poor digestion, fluctuating blood sugar levels, etc. It is recommended during pregnancy and lactation due to its strengthening property as it aids in increased milk formation. When made with mugwort, a Japanese herb, is rich in iron and calcium and is also helpful for people who wish to gain weight.