One of the most common ways of consuming sweet rice(mochigome) is in the form of mochi. A traditional Japanese preparation, mochi is made by pounding steamed sweet rice in a large mortar ( “usu”) with a heavy mallet(“kine”). A Mochi-tsuki (literally “mochi making”) typically takes place shortly before the Japanese New Year. After the steamed rice is pounded into a smooth mass, small individual “cakes” are quickly formed. Mochi is typically consumed fresh, alternatively, it may be air-dried or frozen for later use.
Making mochi the traditional way is an exhausting process, this is why many Japanese households use a mochitsuki-ki, an electrical device similar to a bread machine. Fresh Mochi is very tasty, and the variations for preparation are numerous, it can be enjoyed savory or sweet. Using glutinous rice flour like mochiko or shiratmako is only suitable for Japanese sweets like daifuku mochi or other wagashi, mochi made from rice flour will never have such good rice taste like the pounded kind.
Of course, there are few possibilities for making mochi at home, but few are rather expensive. Beside an electrical mochi maker(available on Amazon), you could try to make mochi with a bread machine, Umamitopia has a great recipe: making mochi the easy way. If you are a happy owner of a Kitchen Aid, you could try Maki’s Recipe: homemade mochi the modern way.
My bread machine wasn’t strong enough(and almost broke) and I don’t possess a mochi-maker or a Kitchen Aid, but I found an different, easy and fast method for making mochi at home. All you need is an ordinary food processor or blender(it doesn’t need to be anything “special”), beside the soaking time for the rice the preparation is really fast: just place the raw, soaked rice in the blender and process into a thick, smooth “rice milk”, after this the mass needs to be steamed(or use a microwave for this step).
I use this recipe a lot, mochi made this way are really tasty, especially in dishes like mochi pizza or grilled mochi. I prefer to use organic, brown glutinous rice(genmai mochigome) or white and brown rice mixture , this way it is more nutritious(and in my opinion, the mochi tastes better, too) . Of course, I’m sure the bread machine/Kitchen Aid methods produce better tasting mochi, because this is closer on the traditional preparation. But “my” blender method works fine for me, and I prefer mochi baked or grilled.
How to enjoy mochi?
Oh, there are many incredible delicious variations! I’m a huge mochi fan , and like it especially grilled or baked, as “Isobe Maki”(picture): wrap nori stripes over small mochi pieces and bake/grill in the oven(180-200°C) for around 10 minutes, then dip in shoyu and serve grated daikon(white radish) on the side. Or macrobiotic sweet genmai mochi: grilled or baked then served hot with kinako(roasted soybean flour) and organic brown rice syrup.
I made few other tasty mochi dishes, but this is something for a new post, but you really should try this out: