Mochi is a traditional Japanese rice cake that dates back to the 6th century. In the United States it started gaining popularity in the ’90s, and can now be easily found in freezer aisles and as a topping at your local fro-yo shop.
When I was growing up, mochi was a rare treat. And to me, it was synonymous with the New Year. In my family, my Grandma Hamada made the beautiful, round mochi cakes as part of our New Year tradition. Early January was the only time I was able to get my grubby mitts on any! The chewy little clouds were delicious anyway, but the fact that they’d only be around for a short period of time made them even more special.
Here’s a clip of some legit mochi ninjas from Nara, Japan. These guys are crazy-fast, but at least you’ll get an idea of how mochi is traditionally made during the annual ceremony of mochitsuki.
Fortunately, nowadays there are much simpler and MUCH safer methods for making mochi! Some involve either using a mochi cooker, stovetop, or a microwave – but every simple method uses mochiko, a glutinous rice flour milled from sweet mochigome rice. (And for all my gluten-free friends, glutinous refers to the sticky, stretchy texture; mochiko is naturally gluten-free.)
We’ve found a Japanese market outside of Dallas where we buy mochiko flour. But the product made by Koda Farms is also very good, and available at most larger chain grocery stores and on Amazon.
The year is now 2024 and Mika has taken the helm at being our family’s mochi maker. One of our new family traditions is a continuance of the old – to eat homemade mochi at the start of each new year. And in all honesty, Mika’s mochi is even better than I remember having as a kid!
But you wanna know the best part?? Now I won’t have to wait a whole year if I ever get a craving for more mochi!