Japan is known for many tasty treats, from the delicate crisp tempura to the flavorful ever popular sushi. Now one of their most popular sweets, mochi is becoming a favorite. What's great about this dumpling like sweet is that they can be made at home, much like any confection.
Tejal Rao,a former food critic and contributor for the New York Times Sunday Magazine wrote about this interesting sweet for yesterday's New York Times Food section. Mochi is a street food with vendors making it fresh at their stands but it can also be bought in supermarkets too..It is a big treat during the Japanese new year Describing it is a bit hard. Imagine a soft dumpling with a sweet inside, made only of rice and beans plus a sweetener.Modern mochi makers such as Tomoko Kato, owner of Williamsburg, Brooklyn's Patisserie Tomoko also makes chocolate and strawberry fillings.s.An ice cream version of it first hit the States at Los Angeles based company Mikawaya in the early Nineties where it was also pushed into major supermarket chains. It's kind of like a frozen bonbon with the daifuku rice dough wrapped round a sphere of ice cream.Trader Joe's pushed an all American version of it in its' stores in 2014. Theirs had a pumpkin pie filling that was just in time for Thanksgiving of that year. There's predictions that mochi will be the next macaron.It could well be. They're all about the melding of textures instead of flavors and they're different enough here to be eye catching. Unfortunately mochi has a short shelf life. The dough dries out after a day or two and should be eaten right away.
Another plus about them is that they're easier to make than macarons.There's no baking and timing involved, save for cooking the two layers on the stovetop. Mr. Rao includes a recipe with the article. The most difficult part is making the exterior or the daifuku rice dough.It has to be as tender and soft as a kitten's paw. Home chefs do have to buy the mochiko flour which can be had at Asia food markets or Amazon, however corn starch can be used too.Potato starch is also used , primarily to keep the dough from sticking to fingers. It's rolled out with a rolling pin into thick, flat disks, Home chefs can go traditional with a sweet bean paste or anko. Again ths requires getting azuki beans,found at Whole Foods, Albertsons and Asian food markets. After being cooked for a bit., they're then transferred to a food processor where they're pureed into a paste. That's returned to the pot where it's sweetened with sugar along with pinch of salt added. It's then poured out and spread out in a small shallow container and put into the fridge to set. The bean paste is rolled into balls between the fingers and then enrobed in the mochi dough. More hand rolling is involved and then the dough is pinched to seal it, More adventurous home chefs can try a chocolate ganache as an alternative to the anko.
Mochi is a fun treat that will sure to be the next fad.It's an easy make and fun to create. Try it for a different type of dessert.