Food should be fun. – Thomas Keller
Haven’t you ever wanted to eat something just because it looked like it would taste good? (And turned out it did?)
Well, mochi is one of those types of food.
And here is something incredible: Tests have shown that 9 out of 10 women over 35, having gazed upon a sampling of mochi for at least 5 minutes before eating it, experience a whopping 50 percent increase in their levels of the “happy hormone,” serotonin.
Like I said, incredible. Yet, were this true about any food, it would be true about mochi. It’s that pretty.
A very pretty food that happens to taste great.
The fact that it is so eye-catching, as well as tasty, has helped to make mochi the traditional gotta-have-it-or-it’s-just-not-New-Year’s munchy of choice for the major celebration that is Oshogatsu, New Year’s Day in Japan.
Mochi has become so popular in recent years that you can find it in most Asian and Japanese food markets all year round, usually in pretty pastels.
OK, so what exactly is mochi?
Mochi is a sweet rice cake.
It’s principle ingredient is the sweet rice flour known in Japanese as mochi gome or mochiko.
Making mochi is easy:
- First, you steam and pound the mochiko, which actually tastes slightly sweet into sticky submission with mortar and pestle.
- Then, you shape it into flattened balls that you can stuff with the filling of your choice.
- Finally, you dust the sticky orb with katakuriko (potato starch). Doing so makes the rice easier to handle and, ultimately, devour.
Chewy, soft, sweet and easy-to-make. That’s mochi in a nutshell.
Mochi with nuts inside and mochi filled with chocolate are some of the different varieties of mochi you might find. Also delicious, and more widely available is daifukumochi, which is mochi filled with anko – a paste made with azuki beans.
Can you say, “YUMmm?”
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, here comes…
Now, picture an anko-filled orb of subtly cherry-flavored sweet rice enveloped in fragrant cherry blossom leaves.
Just thinking of sakuramochi makes my mouth water – it’s that luscious. But those babies only become available for our eating pleasure in the spring at – when else? – cherry blossom time.
That’s when the Japanese go out to celebrate the beauty of the season during an annual phenomenon called hanami. Which literally means “looking at flowers” and is subject for a whole nother post.
First, You look so beautiful in bright colors!
Ok, now the Mochi. Ya got me……I have to try some! It looks like it would be great for an elegant banquet or better yet….weddings & bridal showers…even baby showers. Have you ever tried to make it on your own? Sharing knowledge through food….I like that! Such a big world we know so little about.
Blessings to YOU!
First, thanks much for the kind words about me and color! I’m wearing splashes of yellow and orange more and more these days.
You’re so right about the “fun” mochi colors – the pastels are elegant party perfect. And, yes, mochi-making is definitely in my future, Carolina!
The look of this food is very appealing and a trip to our international store this week will definitely be on the agenda.
As for my favorite fun food, growing up in the Amish region of southeastern PA I have a love for wet bottom Shoofly Pie. Market day was especially exciting because all of the regional foods could be found. This pie was at the top of my list as far as desserts go. It is a very rich molasses based dessert with a crumb topping. It is generally served warm.
Until I moved to Ohio I never realized that each Amish region makes it differently. The first time we visited Walnut Creek Ohio, in the heart of Amish country, I found a local bake shop and eagerly searched for my favorite dessert. What a joy when I found it. At the checkout I shared my story of being so excited about my find. Then the disappointment came when she told me this region only makes “dry bottom”. At that point I put the pie back.
Now with each trip back to visit my family I reserve a couple of pies at the market and bring them back to OH to enjoy at my leisure. They freeze well, and when I feel a need for comfort food and home, I pull a piece out and thoroughly enjoy it.
Hope you find a tasty brand of mochi that you can try at the international store, Cindy!
In the meantime, your wet bottom Shoofly Pie sounds rich and delicious. I enjoy pies served warm as well. I’ll be on the lookout for it the next time I find myself in Amish country.
Wonder how many others regularly make a point of stocking up on fav foods and schedule shopping for them in their travel plans, because nothing else will do?
Hello, Melodie and Cindy,
I’ve been exploring your website, Melodie, and thinking about how much you’ve traveled and experienced–and then I find a discussion of something right here, just a half-mile down my street! I live in Walnut Creek, Ohio. Have grown up here. And have NEVER tried shoofly pie (wet or dry)!
So this is my life lesson today–open my eyes to the fun and wonderful right in my back yard (or down the street). Cindy, I will try the shoofly pie, and perhaps since I’ve never had the wet-bottom the dry-bottom will be wonderful.
Thanks to both of you for waking me up this morning.
Hi, Elaine ~
Glad you got to “meet” your neighbor, Cindy! Hoping your first taste of shoofly pie will be as “wonderful” as you imagine it can be. (Word is the local “fry pies”are also special ~ have you tasted one yet?)
Your descriptions make my mouth water! Nevada and I have discovered mochi filled with red bean or green tea ice cream at Tokyo Sushi. You can read about the restaurant on Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/tokyo-sushi-las-cruces
I hope you made it out to the Las Cruces farmer’s market in downtown Las Cruces. This is the soul of the city. Toucan Market and Sweet Indulgence are your best bets in town for cannolis. Thanks to the international students of our university, there’s a good chance you can find whatever you’re looking for if you ask around.
We’ll be tuning in every once in awhile to rediscover Las Cruces through your eyes.
Hi, Charles (and Nevada)!
Always pleased to meet fellow fans of Japanese AND southern Italian food here in Las Cruces!
Tokyo Sushi sounds like the real deal. I’ll be there for sushi and sashimi very soon.
Toucan had already become a favorite destination for other foods. Now, thanks to you, that shop and Sweet Indulgence may join my go-to list for cannoli as well.
Yes ~ do tune back in with more info and recommendations any time!
So happy to now unlock the mystery of “mochi” — I truly didn’t know what it was —
Now that you do know, here’s to your first mouthful being as soft and fresh as it is sweet!