Japanese mochi remains a globally supreme delicacy for those with a sweet tooth. The soft, chewy bite-sized desserts can be found from anywhere in Japan all the way down to the streets of Los Angeles and New York.
They’re popular for their colorful variants, sweet flavor, and round shape. But have you ever wondered how the cute little things are made? Let’s find out!
What is it?
Mochi is actually a rice cake dessert that originated in Western Japan, where rice agriculture was rich. The original mochi did not have ice cream filling; it was just a really chewy, glutinous rice cake.
As the Japanese dessert became more and more popular, mochi began to take on different forms.
Now, mochi ice cream is an extremely beloved confection around the world. Mochi ice cream is the same sticky rice concept, except the filling is cold ice cream and the outside is dusted with powdered sugar.
Other similar, mochi-type desserts are called daifuku and manju.
While mochi is sold internationally at any of time of the year, the small rice cakes are particularly popular in Japan during the Japanese New Year. This is due in part to the traditional ceremony mochitsuki, wherein the mochi is pounded and shaped.
How is it made?
Mochitsuki is the process of, essentially, pounding the mochi until it achieves its sticky, airy texture.
The mochi is first prepared by soaking the mochigome (short-grain, sticky rice) in water for two days. Afterwards, it is steamed and transferred to a large wooden or stone bowl, called an usu, where workers knead the mixture into a thick rice dough.
Then, the real work starts as one person pounds the dough with a large mallet (a kine) and another kneads it with water in between pounds to keep the rice from sticking. The pounding and kneading alternates until the mochi attains the perfect consistency.
The process is tedious and dangerous, but reflective of Japanese ideals that emphasize skill and devotion to the craft.
Although nowadays, mochi can easily be made using a machine, nothing beats the hard work and beauty of the mochitsuki.
Where can I buy it?
Because mochi is so beloved, it’s now available anywhere!
In the Philippines, stores like Mochi Creme and Mochi Lab make it easy to order online. Mochi Creme’s menu has a variety of mochi products like mochi bread and mochi cookies. Mochi Lab, on the other hand, has unique flavors like Nutella, Chocnut, and Choco Caramel.
Mochies in BGC, Taguig also offers traditional flavors like matcha and adzuki bean.
As you can see, the Philippines has quickly adapted to the mochi craze. With all the dedication and rich history behind the dessert, it’s worth the try!