Wednesday, September 5, 2012

East Meets West

So many delicious looking!
Last week the medical student in our research lab brought in mochi balls to celebrate her last week with us this summer before heading back to school.  The mochi were all in nice little cupcake papers, however, so I asked where she had bought them.

"No, I made them last night."

"Whaa?! You can make mochi at home?"

"Yeah, they're super easy, you can do it in the microwave. Just rice flour, sugar and water, then add bean paste."


So within an hour of leaving work, I found myself in Zion Market perusing the aisles in search of glutinous rice flour and red bean paste.  After wandering for a while, I relented and asked this sweet little elderly Korean lady with a Zion apron on and she happily led me down an aisle. I just didn't have the heart to tell her that fermented soybean paste was not what I was looking for.  Thankfully I managed to find them a few rows down tucked on the next to bottom shelf.

There were quite a few recipes online, but decided to just go with the first one that returned after google searching "mochi with red bean paste" at Bakingdom.  Here is their original recipe:

1 1/2 cups glutinous rice flour
¼ cup sugar
2/3 cups water
2 drops red or green food coloring
1/2 cup cornstarch
one package sweetened red bean paste
  1. Combine the glutinous rice flour, sugar, water, and food coloring in a medium size microwave safe bowl. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture well until no lumps remain. Scrape away any excess liquid mochi mixture that may have been sloshed high on the sides of the bowl while stirring.
  2. Lightly cover bowl with plastic wrap and microwave for 2 minutes. Remove from the microwave and stir well. Dough will very thick! Stir as best you can with a sturdy spatula. Re-cover and return to microwave; heat for 1 minute.
  3. When dough begins to inflate while cooking, and then deflates with the microwave door is opened – it’s ready! If dough doesn't inflate during the previous one minute of cooking time, microwave for 1 additional minute.
  4. Remove the bowl from the microwave. Sprinkle a cutting board with half the cornstarch; scrape the hot dough onto the cornstarch and then pat the surface with cornstarch-coated hands. Stretch dough gently and use your hands to flatten it. Cut into 10-12 pieces. Place 1-2 tsp. of filling on a mochi piece and gently pinch the edges together to seal.
However, I think the ratios of rice flour to water really depend on the brand of rice flour you get.  My first attempt yielded such a thick "dough" that I could barely flatten it on the board to put any bean paste in.  On my second round, I took the advice of my much wiser wife and forgot about the amounts in the recipe and just mixed until it felt right, like a thick pancake batter (it ended up being closer to 1:1 water to rice flour with perhaps a touch more flour).

Even after changing the ratio so the dough was pliable after heating, mochi is still a hot mess.  Corn starch is a must and half the kitchen counter was coated before I was done. And I still couldn't get the beautiful round buns that they have in their pictures.  My experiments, although tasty, ended up looking more bean empanadas =)

But they still look kinda good? right? guys?



Mandy said...

Look can be deceIving! They tasted great. Thank you for trying and cleaning up afterwards =). My vision of Mochi ball is served in the ginger soup so I don't think you would want it now given that it is still hot nowadays.

Camila said...

I thought I had commented on this from my iPhone--now I see that it didn't come through! Anyway, very impressive. I think mochi shaping is probably like dumpling-shaping--takes practice. Maybe they need less bean paste--they look a little...grey. But if they taste good, who cares?

Juan Chaparro said...

oh, they do look kind of gray. probably because the only light was from outdoors and lends a blue tint.

The good thing is practice makes perfect, and I do not mind eating my mistakes =)

Xaparro said...

I always wanted to try this Butter Mochi that they eat in Hawaii that I read about in "The Food of Paradise". Here's the recipe:

1 pound (3 cups) mochiko (sweet rice flour)
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
Two 12 ounce cans coconut milk
5 eggs
4 ounces melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another; combine both mixtures and pour into a 9x13 inch cake pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Cut into brownie-sized squares to serve.

Here is more about butter mochi

Juan Chaparro said...

I'm not going to lie. Just reading through that list of ingredients started to make my mouth water. Mochi is such an absolute comfort food. Something about it is just wonderful. I remember on our way home from Japan last year about two thirds of the way through our 13 hour flight, we broke out the gourmet frozen mochi we purchased in Asakuza. The rest of the trip wasn't so bad.

I have always wanted to try Momo Daifuku (Peach Mochi) like this one. Yummm....