Mika’s Mochi Rice Cakes 餅

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!

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Marumochi with Sweet Soy Glaze


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  • Author: Mika Rigali
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8-12 servings 1x

Description

Mochi are chewy, cloud-like sweet rice cakes that are traditionally eaten in Japan around the New Year. This is my favorite way to make marumochi (round mochi rice cakes) and a deliciously sweet soy glaze.


Ingredients

Scale

marumochi rice cakes:

1 1/2 cups mochiko (glutinous rice) flour

1 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cups water

2 drops distilled white vinegar

1/2 cup katakuriko (potato starch)

sweet soy glaze:

4 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp mirin

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2/3 cup + 2 tsp water

2 Tbsp katakuriko (potato starch)


Instructions

to make the marumochi rice cakes:

  1. In a microwave-safe, medium-sized bowl, combine mochiko flour, sugar, and water. Mix until well combined and texture resembles cake batter.
  2. Stir in the two drops of white vinegar.
  3. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Use a fork to poke small holes in plastic to allow airflow.
  4. Microwave on high in 2-minute intervals, folding batter after each interval, for 8 minutes total.
  5. Remove the bowl from the microwave and let it cool enough to touch.
  6. On a flat surface, lay out a piece of parchment paper and generously dust with potato starch.
  7. Spoon out batter onto the surface so that each cake measures approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter, and evenly coat with katakuriko. The batter should no longer be sticky and thus easy to handle with your hands. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

to make the sweet soy glaze:

  1. In a cold saucepan, add sugar, mirin, soy sauce, water, and katakuriko. Do not turn on the heat yet!
  2. Mix all the ingredients together well until smooth. The katakuriko will become lumpy if you heat the sauce without stirring beforehand. Now, turn on the heat and continue to whisk.
  3. Keep whisking continuously, as the mixture will thicken suddenly.
  4. When the sauce thickens, remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the sauce to a container or bowl. If you are making the sweet soy glaze ahead of time, remove the sauce from the heat before the consistency gets too thick. The moisture will continue to evaporate as it cools and thicken the sauce.

to serve:

Heat a pan over medium-low heat, then cook the marumochi until edges are lightly browned. Pour the sweet soy glaze on top and serve immediately.

Notes

It’s best to eat homemade mochi within 1-2 days if left at room temperature. Uncooked mochi can be kept in the fridge for about 3 weeks, but must be stored in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out or cracking. You can also keep fresh mochi in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Cornstarch or tapioca starch can be used as substitutes for katakuriko (potato starch).

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Treat
  • Method: Microwave + Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Japanese

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