Strawberry Azuki Bean Mochi

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Mochies had always been a special treat for me. As a child living in Hong Kong, I would go to one of those Japanese grocers and marvel at the plump mochies that decorate their display cases. Mochies were always quite expensive in those stores, so I would rarely get treated to it. Luckily, for the Japanese, food presentation is just as important as the flavour itself, and so, as a child, I had honed the skill of feasting with my eyes, imagining the chewy goodness, and the sweet, delicate flavours that danced on my tongue. Whenever my dad returned from his business trips in Japan, he would be sure to bring along a box of mochies, carefully wrapped with colourful wrapping paper. Inside the box, each mochi was individually wrapped, which made them ever more precious to me.

Fast forward 10 years, I am making my own mochi, and hitting myself on the head for not discovering how to make mochi sooner. This mochi recipe is a Japanese one. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are also several versions of chinese mochis that are usually smaller and often filled with black sesame paste, peanut paste, white sesame paste, red bean paste (you name it!). They are also sometimes unfilled, and rolled around crushed roasted peanuts, sugar and desiccated coconut. I will cover Chinese mochis later, but for now, here’s a Nommy Noms Recipe for Japanese Red-Bean Mochi, feel free to experiment with the fillings!

Mochi Dough

Makes about 10 medium sized mochies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 C Glutinous Rice Flour (also known as Mochiko Flour)
  • 3/4 C White Sugar
  • 1 1/2 C Water
  • 1 drop of White Vinegar
  • a few drops of Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 C Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 C Cornstarch (or Potato Starch)
  • 1/4 t Salt

The fun part:

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl (I use a ceramic soup bowl, be sure that it is large enough so that the mixture only fills up to half of the bowl, the dough expands and may create a mess if you use a bowl that is too small!), mix together the glutinuous rice flour, white sugar, and water until it forms a watery paste. Add the vinegar and oil and mix well. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and microwave on high for about 6 minutes. At the 6 minute point, check to see if the dough has come together as a sticky dough, if not put it in the microwave for another minute. (Do it minute by minute so that you don’t zap and dry the dough!)
  2. Once set, remove the dough from the microwave and let it cool!! It will be too hot to handle immediately. While the dough is cooling, combine the cornstarch, powdered sugar and salt together. Once the mochi is cool enough, divide the dough with a *plastic* knife. (The dough will stick to metal knives, and you will have a very bad time.)
  3. Flour your hands with the sugar-cornstarch mixture and flatten the dough. Fill it with a red bean paste ball (recipe to follow), and wrap the mochi dough around the filling. (This may take a bit of practice). Once this is done, roll the mochi in the sugar-corn-starch mixture, and voila! Your mochi is ready!

Anko (Sweet Red Bean Paste) Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 C Dried Red Beans
  • 1 1/2 C Sugar
  • Water
  • 2-3 Tbs Butter (optional)
  • A few small Strawberries (optional)

The Fun Part:

  1. Put red beans in a pot with 2-3 cups of water (making sure the water covers the beans about an inch), and heat it on high till it is a rolling boil, let it boil for 5 minutes, then discard the water.
  2. Re-fill the pot with another 2-3 cups of water, cover, and let it simmer on low heat for about 1-2 hours. Check from time to time to see if you need to add water. When the beans are done, they should be very soft and can be easily crushed between fingers.
  3. Once the beans are good to go, drain the water from the pot. Blend the beans with an inversion blender, or a stand-up blender. Return the paste to the empty pot, add the sugar and heat on medium, stirring the paste frequently with a wooden spoon. This step removes the excess water trapped in the paste and makes the red bean paste less watery. The paste is done when it starts to form a cohesive red bean “dough”, and when the paste comes off clean from the pan.
  4. If you want a richer, unorthodox red bean paste for your mochi, feel free to melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter into the paste to give it a buttery kick.Transfer to a heat-proof bowl to cool, covering it with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out too much.
  5. Once it can be handled, roll the red bean paste into a dough ball, small enough to fit into your mochi dough. Or if you want to make my strawberry-red-bean mochi, flatten the red bean paste in the palm of your hand, and wrap the red bean paste around the strawberry.
  6. Excess red bean paste can be divided into balls, wrapped in a plastic wrap, then sealed in a zip-lock bag and be refrigerated for about a week or so.

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