Quarantine Mochi: Virtual Food Lab (ASIAN 258)
Dear ASIAN 258 students:
I’m sad that we didn’t get to do our dessert lab. So I thought I would pass along a very easy mochi recipe, which you can make in ten minutes. I have adapted the recipe by Namiko Chen.
The key to mochi is the texture. Good mochi is soft, not stiff. It should melt in your mouth, but still be a little chewy but not rubbery. It’s best to make mochi in small batches and consume it right away. Mochi stiffens in the refrigerator.
For this recipe, you just need:
3. Sugar (I got brown sugar to work, too)
4. Filling. Typically, this is made with red bean paste. But my husband hates sweet red beans. So I substitute peanut butter mixed with a little maple syrup, or kaya (Singaporean coconut jam).
5. Starch. I prefer potato starch, but corn starch will do just fine.
So how much mochi to make at a single sitting? I have discovered that 1/3 cup of glutinous rice flour will yield four pieces of mochi. You first measure out your flour, then add the sugar. Recipes vary in their proportions. Some cooks insist on 2:1 sugar to rice flour. Others go as little as 1:4 sugar to rice flour. I have opted for the middle path: 1:3 sugar to rice flour.
I typically use water. But I sometimes add a little almond milk if it’s lying around or a half teaspoon of coconut milk powder. If you do use almond milk, add an extra half teaspoon or teaspoon of water to thin out the batter.
The key now is to mix everything with a spoon to produce an even batter. Then pour it into a *shallow* bowl and cover. Stick it in the microwave and zap on high for 30 seconds.
Then take it out and stir. I repeat this process at least two more times. By 1:30, you should have a white dough.
Stir one more time and return to the microwave for 15 seconds. Check. If there are still some liquid parts to the dough, stir with a fork and return to the microwave, heating for 10 seconds at a time and checking. I almost never have to heat the mochi dough for more than 2 minutes from beginning to end.
You can also steam your mochi in the Instant Pot. This will produce a more even dough that glistens. If you elect to spend the extra time, stick the mochi in a heat-resistant bowl like a Pyrex and steam on high for 15 minutes.
The next part is the trickiest. Now, take a decent amount of potato or corn starch and pour it onto a surface. I often line my countertops with silicon mats, but any clean surface will do. You should use about ¼ cup of the starch. Coat your fingers with the stuff and don’t be stingy.
While the mochi is cooling slightly, take out your bean paste or peanut butter. Scoop out a teaspoon of the stuff and place it in the palm of your hand. Roll it into a ball and reserve, close to your rolling surface.
Take the hot mochi and put it on the starch-dusted surface. Using a silicon spatula or a big spoon (dusted, of course, with starch), flatten out the mochi into something like a square. Dust the top of the mochi with more starch. Cut the square into four even pieces.
Add the filling in the middle of the square. There are different ways of folding. I typically fold the mochi on one side and then press down the three other ends to seal. Or you can first try bringing two ends of the mochi squares together diagonally. Then bring the other two edges together.
Seal by pinching. Make sure you have enough starch on your fingers and on the surface. Take the mochi and roll it gently on the dusted surface to make a ball. If there are any loose ends, pinch to seal. Serve it on a plate lightly dusted with starch.
Questions? Wanna do this in real time? Let me know.