Mochi (餅?); (in Chinese language: 麻 糬): It is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice ground into a paste and then molded. Traditionally, in Japan it is done in a ceremony called mochitsuki . Although eaten year-round, mochi is traditional food for the Japanese New Year, when it is most commonly consumed. Mochi is similar to the Chinese rice cake called nian gao , but is molded right after being ground, while nian gao is baked again after being ground to solidify and sanitize it. In Korea, there is something almost identical called chapssaltteok (Hangul: 찹쌀떡), chapssal which means “glutinous rice” and you can also writetteok, duk, dduk, duek, or d’uk .
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- 1 Story
- 2 The dough
- 3 The filling
- 4 Risks of consuming Mochi
- 5 Sources
It is a sweet with a great tradition in Japan, in fact it has its own ceremony that is performed in the Japanese New Year. We refer to Mochitsuki , a word that literally means mashing rice to make rice cakes. And that’s what their day consists of, that is, families get together to knead the rice and make cakes in the traditional way. In Japan, mochi were used to celebrate practically anything, from the birth of a child to the construction of a house, passing through the first menstruation of a teenager or the New Year (a celebration that cannot be missed, there are versions such as the kagami or kinano specials for that day). It was common to prepare them at home, rather than buying them in confectioneries, as part of a ceremony that occupied the whole family. In literature, reference is made to mochi, it appears already reflected during the 8th century, as a delicacy that could only be tasted by the nobles or the emperors in religious acts. During the 13th and 14th centuries it spread to the tea ceremony and its consumption reached society.
The mochi dough -which can be taken stuffed or such- is basically a kind of paste of glutinous rice flour, water and sugar, cooked by steaming or microwaving. The flour has to be from that specific type of rice, otherwise it will not mesh and will not become elastic. Those who suffer from celiac disease can consume it without health risk since it does not contain gluten but amylopectin , making it harmless to them. This is the basic mass:
- 200 g flour
- 240 g of sugar
- 260 g of water
- Cornstarch to be able to work it without sticking.
Mix well in a container first – if it is steamed it can be metallic, if you microwave any material suitable for that use – water and flour, then add the sugar, and we already have the base. Put in a steamer pot and stir every 5 minutes, until you have a whitish paste, very dense and sticky (with this amount of dough, about 25 minutes is usually enough). To do so the microwave should be covered with clingfilmcooking and put it two minutes at full power. Stir and put one more minute, also to the maximum. Stir again, lower the power to 500W and give it one more minute. If you are not ready, repeat the operation as many times as necessary, (at 500 w and 30 in 30 seconds). Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes so that it is not so hot. Put a generous amount of cornstarch on the flat surface where you go to work and in your hands: where there is no flour, there will be pasted dough. Give it a few turns and let it rest until it is at room temperature, at which point you can already form the mochi, always with floured hands. If the dough becomes hard from the cold, heat it and it will recover its elasticity, but it should not be allowed to give it much air or it will form a crust that is impossible to recover.
The traditional filling for mochi is anko , a red bean paste that turns sweet after boiling in syrup. Sometimes it is shredded, sometimes it just falls apart a little. Since the azuki is not easy to find, any type of red bean with a floury texture can be used to make the anko . Are needed:
- 250 g of the bean in question
- 250 sugar
- 25 glucose
You have to leave the beans to soak for 12 hours, remove part of the water and put the rest and the beans in a fast pot. When it boils, count 35 minutes -in a normal pot it can be three or four hours-, wait for all the water to open and remove. Now add the glucose and the salt, and put it back on the fire. Add the sugar and cook until the beans and syrup have a very pasty texture. When it is at room temperature, we can already work with it. Other popular mochi fillings include green tea mousse fillings , Catalan cream , chocolate, peach and other delicacies, which change according to the season and the inspiration of the master. Any thick mousse will serve to fill it, just like a ganacheof chocolate. To make the mochi easier, the filling must be very cold or directly frozen, if it is very soft. Professionals use semicircular molds, but you can use flanges or, if the texture allows, simply bowling with your hands.
Mochi consumption risks
The famous Japanese sweets, typical of New Year’s Eve celebrations , are responsible for the deaths of several people each year. This is undoubtedly due to the consistency of mochi, a viscous, gelatinous sweet that must be carefully chewed before swallowing. Problems especially arise when eaten by children, the elderly, or people who cannot chew properly. Then there is a risk of suffocation by swallowing excessively large chunks. It is estimated that, in Tokyo alone, an average of one hundred hospital admissions caused by the ingestion of this sweet occur annually. A figure that exceeds that of people poisoned by eating puffer fish. In fact, the city fire department has a website with advice on how to act when a person chokes on it. The ideal to avoid risks is to break it into small pieces before eating it, thus facilitating its intake.