How To Make Mochi: A Step-by-Step Guide
Sweet, sweet mochi. It’s a lovely, chewy, sweet dough that is one of the best desserts out there. This Japanese rice cake is not only delicious, but it also has an interesting method that dates back to ancient times.
Mochi can be expensive when you buy it in the store or at a restaurant, but you can make this favorite rice dessert right in the comfort of your own home. You just need to get the right ingredients and follow the simple steps.
So we’ve come up with a step-by-step guide to making mochi. By the end, you’ll have the know-how to craft mochi in your own kitchen. A delicious dessert is just around the corner, so let’s get started!
Origins of Mochi
The history of this Japanese rice cake is not fully understood. We don’t really know where the famous food was developed, who invented mochi, or specifically when it came about.
However, some varieties of mochi, such as warabi mochi, have an incredibly long and rich history. Warabi mochi has been around since before the Heian Era, meaning that people were eating mochi in the eighth century, or possibly even earlier.
We began to see filled mochi during the Edo Period in Japanese history. So this variety of mochi started to hit the Japanese culinary scene in the 1600s. This is when we see a big boom in the popularity of daifuku mochi, a dessert made by stuffing mochi with a sweet filling.
In traditional methods, mochi was made with a special rice called “Mochigome (mochi rice)” which is also known as short-grain Japonica glutinous rice.
The Japanese would make large vessels out of hollowed out trees, place the rice inside, and then repeatedly pound the rice into a large mallet until the rice would become a sticky paste. The process is called mochitsuki.
Making Modern Mochi
Today, many people still make mochi this way, but mochi can also be made by making a dough with rice flour, water, and sugar for a little extra sweetness.
Mochi can be served as small cakes, cut into cubes as mochi candy, wrapped around ice cream balls, or filled with a rich filling. In Japan, it is most commonly filled with red bean paste, a popular Japanese sweet.
Mochi still holds great cultural significance to this day. During the Japanese new year celebration, mochi is an incredibly common food to enjoy. It’s a delicious way to ring in the new year.
In America, the most popularized version of mochi is mochi ice cream, where sweet ice cream is wrapped with a thin layer of chewy mochi. This version of the dessert didn’t come about until the 1980s in Korea. It then became popular in America in the early 1990s, when it was sold at a bakery called Mikawaya.
What Does Mochi Taste Like?
The only ingredient in mochi is rice flour. So mochi, on its own, simply tastes like glutinous rice. It’s got a light sweetness to it, but the amazing thing about mochi is its chewy texture.
If you’re chopping mochi into cubes and putting it into a soup, it will be a unique texture in a savory dish. If you make it into thin wrappers and fill it with red bean paste or ice cream, it will be a sweet, delicious dessert.
You can also incorporate other ingredients into your mochi dough if you want to change the color or add a little bit of flavor to your dough. For dessert, matcha powder is often mixed in to add a beautiful green color and a bit of bitterness that pairs nicely with the sweet red bean filling.
How Mochi Differs Per Region
Different regions in Japan will utilize mochi in different ways depending on their flavor preferences. Most of the differences have to do with the fillings they use.
In the Kansai region, for example, one of the most popular types of mochi is warabi mochi.
Mochi is cut into cubes and then dusted with a sweet, toasted soybean flour called kinako. The mochi is also made with bracken starch, so the texture is slightly different from normal mochi.
Mochi is such an incredibly versatile ingredient that it can be adapted into all sorts of dishes for all sorts of different people. That’s part of what makes it such a popular ingredient.
What Ingredients Do I Need To Make Mochi?
The most popular form of mochi today is the sweet stuff, so today, we’re going to talk about how to make mochi into a lovely, sweet dessert. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to get started.
Red Bean Paste
One of the most classic mochi fillings is red bean paste. This popular sweet filling is made with the adzuki bean, which has a distinct, deep red color. The beans are boiled and soaked, then mashed up and mixed with sugar until a paste is formed.
Matcha powder is one of the secret ingredients for this mochi recipe. We’ll work the rich, slightly bitter match into the mochi dough to provide a beautiful complimentary flavor to the red bean paste.
The match will also be slightly sweetened, making for an absolutely delicious mochi that will be an amazing dessert.
Sweet Rice Flour
For our recipe today, we’re going to use sweet rice flour, also called mochiko, to make the dough. This method is certainly far easier than cooking rice and pounding it out with a giant wooden mallet! This will allow us to create delicious, chewy mochi.
Water will help us to make the dough and bind all of the powdered ingredients together.
We want our mochi to be a delicious, sweet dessert that will definitely satisfy our sweet tooth, so we’re going to make our mochi dough a little bit sweet.
Mochi dough is incredibly sticky and difficult to handle without proper care. If you don’t cover your hands and dough in cornstarch, working with mochi dough would be next to impossible. So, make sure you don’t forget this important ingredient!
If you don’t have any cornstarch on hand, potato starch will also do the job just fine.
How Do I Make Mochi?
Now that you’ve gathered up all of your ingredients, it’s time to combine them to make your delicious rice cake.
Freeze Your Bean Paste
Make sure to follow this step first. Toss your bean paste into the freezer to make it a little easier to work with. A soft bean paste will be difficult to wrap up in your mochi.
Mix Matcha, Rice Flour, Water, and Sugar
Next up, grab a spatula and get ready to mix one cup of sweet rice flour, one cup of water, a quarter cup of white sugar, and about a teaspoon of matcha.
You can add more or less matcha depending on your preference for the flavor and color.
You’re going to need to incorporate the matcha and rice flour together. This will ensure you get a nice even green color and matcha taste throughout. Then add your water and sugar and stir it all together until you have a nice smooth mixture.
Microwave Matcha Mixture
After everything is well incorporated, it’s time to cook. Lucky for you, this mixture just has to cook in the microwave oven for a few short minutes!
Cover up your mixture with plastic wrap and place it in the microwave. Cook it for about three and a half minutes, and your mochi dough is ready to form.
Use Cornstarch on Your Surface
Now your cornstarch is going to come in real handy. You’re going to need a lot of this stuff to make sure that your mochi doesn’t stick to everything it touches. So don’t forget to dust your working surface, whether it’s a sheet pan or your counter, with cornstarch.
Make Your Hot Mochi Dough Into Balls
Now that your surface is prepped, it’s time to shape your mochi. Cover your hands in cornstarch and grab a small bit of mochi. You should have a couple tablespoons of dough.
Keep some cornstarch closeby for your hands and any dough that becomes exposed. The best way to get the dough into balls is to use your index finger and thumb to pinch it off of the larger batch of dough. This will give you a ball shape fairly quickly if you cover everything in cornstarch
Flatten Each Ball and Fill With Bean Paste
Now take your mochi balls and flatten them out into circles. Each circle should only be about two or three inches wide and be about a quarter of an inch thick at most.
To do this, you’re going to want to cover the top of the dough of each ball in cornstarch and use a dusted rolling pin as well.
As you’re flattening each circle, keep the cornstarch close by so you can add a pinch just in case things start to stick. Your circles still need to be easy to work with, so keep everything dusted.
Once you’ve made your mochi wrappers, grab your red bean paste from the freezer. Take a spoon and scoop out about a tablespoon, placing it in the center of your mochi circle. Now carefully wrap the paste up into a ball, pinching the dough at the bottom of the sphere so none of it leaks out.
Work the ball with your hands until you have a nice even sphere, where the bottom isn’t lumpy from all the pinching. The texture should be nice and smooth. Repeat this step until all of your mochi and bean paste are used up.
Place in Muffin Liner
Place each mochi in the little bowls of the muffin liners. Allow your mochi to rest for a few minutes and assume the shape of the wrappers, making for a nice shape that you can eat easily.
Now you’ve made some delicious homemade mochi! The outside is a lovely, soft green color, and then inside is a deep, flavorful red bean mixture.
Can Other Types of Rice Flour Be Used?
Glutinous rice flour, or sweet rice flour, is not only essential for the taste of mochi, but also for texture. Only this specific rice flour is made from a special variety of short grain rice and can provide your mochi with a fantastic chewiness that is quintessential to the whole experience. So don’t substitute your rice flour.
How Can You Eat Mochi?
Mochi, in its simplest form, is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be enjoyed in a variety of different contexts. From sweet to savory, you can put mochi in just about every meal if you wanted to.
Mochi is commonly eaten in delicious soups. In this case, the mochi dough is rolled out and cut into cubes. The cubes of mochi are then boiled in the broth and cooked further.
The result is a wonderfully chewy bit of mochi that has absorbed some of the savory flavors of the soup. It’s a great way to change up your soups with a bit of texture and a subtly sweet flavor. Of course, in this application, you’ll want to leave out the match and the sugar and keep it simple.
With Sweet Filling
Fill your mochi with a delicious, sweet filling for a delightful dessert. This is the most popular way to consume mochi worldwide. The soft, chewy texture combo compliments the sweetness.
You can fill your mochi with red bean paste, ice cream, or even whole fruits like a strawberry or small orange.
You can also take a simple, non-sweet mochi and cover it with a delicious sauce. Your sauce can be sweet or filled with umami, whichever you prefer!
Instead of filling your mochi with red bean paste, you could put it on the top to change things up. Or you could top it with a mixture of soy sauce and sugar for a salty, sweet, umami delight. And of course, there’s kinako mochi, which is topped in a sweet, toasted soybean flour.
How Should Mochi Be Stored?
The best way to store your mochi is in the freezer. If you keep it in the fridge, it will get hard and lose its pleasant texture, but if you freeze it, upon thawing your mochi will be great to eat!
Of course with ice cream mochi, you have to keep it in the freezer to keep the ice cream from melting. But when you’re making fresh mochi, the best option is to eat it all on the day that you made it.
Inevitably, freezing will take away a little bit of the texture and flavor of the mochi, so make sure you have plenty of people around to partake in your delicious treat!
How Long Will Mochi Stay Fresh?
Mochi will stay good to eat in the freezer for up to six months. For ultimate freshness, consume your batch of mochi within one month.
The Bottom Line
Mochi is one of those dishes that we all just love. It's near and dear to the hearts of the Japanese and now to many people around the world. It’s versatile and delicious, and now you can make it in your own kitchen!
If you need ingredients for your homemade mochi, look to Umamicart, the online Asian grocery store. We deliver high quality Asian ingredients and groceries right to your door so your mochi night can be as easy as possible.