Have you heard of the rice cake called mochi [餅]? They are chewy and sticky rice balls that look like gum. In this article we will see everything about this essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine.
O mochi is made by beating the sticky Japanese rice called mochigome, until it becomes a dough. Basically it is glutinous rice ground into a paste and then molded. Mochi is a common ingredient in many Japanese dishes, desserts and sweets.
Different types of sweets made from mochi can be found throughout the year in every corner of Japan. Traditionally it is part of the New Year and New Year festivities.
Different types of wagashi (traditional sweets) they are made with mochi, there are even ice creams and soups. The most traditional mochi is a flat white ball. In order not to stick to the hand it is sprinkled with flour.
A good catch is to grill the mochi and eat with soy sauce and sugar, is a very common and delicious way.
The origin of mochi
The exact origin of mochi is unknown, but it is believed to have emerged from China like everything else in the world. Others believe that mochi has been present in Japanese culture for thousands of years since the It was Jomon.
Mochi it is an essential object in the festivities at the end and beginning of the year, this tradition began in the Heian Era (794-1185) and soon after was used as offerings in religious ceremonies.
There are several theories to explain the name mochi, one of them states that it comes from the verb motsu [持つ] which means to keep or to take. Others claim it is a divine food, or is related to the word full moon (mochizuki) or viscosity (muchimi).
Similar sticky rice dumplings are found throughout Asia in China, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Korea and the Philippines. All are made of glutinous rice, beaten and ground. Some are also used in annual traditions and festivities.
Mochitsuki - New Year's Festival
O mochitsuki it is a festival that counts on the participation of people during the new year, to pillar the rice until becoming the mochi. As a New Year's rite, the collective application of rice carried out on the eve of the New Year is emblematic: it represents the certainty of the reward of hard and solidary effort.
The distribution of mochi at the shogatsu, represents the renewal of the hope of abundance at the table throughout the year that begins again. O mochitsuki is the traditional way of making mochi, which consists of beating the whole rice grains in the pestle called “user“.
You should not do mochi on December 29th, as it can bring bad luck. This is because the number 9 “ku” resembles words like pain [苦] and darkness [黒].
For the ceremonial:
- Polished glutinous rice is soaked overnight and cooked;
- The cooked rice is kneaded with a packet (kine) in a gral (user). Two or more people work in rhythmic movements kneading, turning and moistening the dough;
- The macerated dough is molded in several formats, depending on the location. In Osaka it takes on a spherical shape, in Tokyo the shape is cubic;
Although the mochitsuki not necessarily a religious celebration, most Japanese families celebrate the New Year by offering moti deities in their home oratories, which is why they find home appliances moti even outside Japan.
Making mochi with pestle can be dangerous, since your hand is milliseconds from being kneaded by a wooden stick, as shown in the video below:
Different varieties of sweet DE Mochi
Kusa Mochi - It literally means grass, it has a green color flavored with sagebrush (yomogi). There is also the Kinako mochi which is covered with a roasted and ground whole soy flour.
Daifuku [大福] - Daifuku, is a Japanese sweet that consists of small mochi balls stuffed with something sweet, usually anko (azuki bean paste). The daifuku appears in several different forms, some put strawberries creating the ichigo daifuku.
Mot ice creami - They are small colored balls filled with ice cream. When produced by traditional methods, when frozen it becomes as hard as a rock. So it is typically made with a special flour called mochiko that produces a similar texture. The first recipe was launched in 1981 under the name of Yukimi Daifuku.
Warabi Mochi - A jelly made from fern starch and covered with kinako. Warabi does not contain rice, but it is widely considered a type of mochi.
Dango - A Japanese dumpling made of mochiko. Dango has a texture and taste similar to mochi. It is usually served with green tea and has its own variations such as Hanami, Mitarashi, Bocchan and Denpun.
Uiro Mochi - A Japanese baked cake made from rice flour and sugar. Another dessert that is not a real mochi, but is called for its rubbery texture.
Different varieties of dishes
Kirimochi or Kakumochi are blocks used as a basic ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It is usually added to pasta, stews or any dish you can imagine.
Oshiruko - A dessert soup, made with azuki beans and pieces of mochi.
Chikara Udon - O thick noodles Japanese made of wheat flour, this time covered with toasted mochi.
Zoni - A samurai soup made with vegetables. Zoni is usually a New Year's dish.
Traditional and special mochi
Kagami Mochi [镜饼] - A special Japanese New Year decoration to bring good luck and prosperity. He got that name because kagami is one of three sacred objects from Japan.
Hishimochi - A diamond-shaped candy to be served at Hina Matsuri (girls' Day). It has three layers of colors, where the red part is colored with jasmine flowers, the white with water chestnut and the green with sagebrush.
Sakuramochi - They are flavored and colored with cherry blossoms. They are usually filled with red bean paste and wrapped in a pickled cherry leaf. In Osaka, they are made with coarse-grained rice flour and have a consistency similar to a rice pudding. In Tokyo sakuramochi has a smoother texture.
Hanabira Mochi - It literally means Flower Petals, they are consumed on New Year's Day and the first New Year's tea ceremony in a tradition initiated by the imperial family. It has a distinct shape with white on the outside and red on the inside.
The white is translucent to show the pink below, resulting in a delicate color thought to resemble the petal of a Japanese plum blossom. The interior is filled with anko.
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