After I shared Japanese New Year soup Ozoni recipe, I received a lot of feedback from my readers regarding the “mochi” I added in the soup. They were surprised that I added “mochi” in the savory soup and asked me if it’s sweet. The feedback made me realized that the Japanese and non-Japanese see the word “mochi” quite differently.
For non-Japanese, based on the feedback I received, when they see or hear the word “mochi” the first thing that comes to their mind seems to be the round stuffed glutinous rice balls. They are usually filled with sweet ingredients such as red bean (more traditional) or chocolate, strawberry, mango, etc for more modern flavors.
However in Japan, we usually call these (pictured aboved) sweet mochi “Daifuku” or Daifuku Mochi” to differentiate from the regular mochi.
What Is Japanese Mochi (餅)?
In Japan, when we say “mochi”, it usually implies to plain mochi – either freshly made or cut packaged mochi available at the supermarkets.
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of mochigome (糯米), a short-grain japonica glutinous rice. The rice is pounded into paste (left pic) and molded into the desired shapes such as round shape mochi, Maru Mochi (top right pic).
When we eat mochi at home, we buy Kiri Mochi (bottom right pic) that are individually packaged in plastic bags.
How To Enjoy Japanese Mochi At Home?
The freshly made Japanese mochi can be included as part of savory or sweet dishes. For savory dishes, mochi is used as a topping for miso soup, Ozoni, and hot udon noodle soup (we call this menu Chikara Udon (力うどん)). It can also be added inside Okonomiyaki.
Making mochi from glutinous rice takes a long time and effort, therefore most families don’t make mochi from scratch anymore. If we want to enjoy freshly pound mochi, we can do so by attending a mochi pounding event or some folks buy a small Japanese mochi pounding machine at home for this task (some of Japanese bread makers has an option for mochi pounding!).
These days to enjoy mochi all year around and during the Japanese New Year, we can buy these pre-cut Japanese mochi (Kiri Mochi, 切り餅) from the supermarkets.
Today I’ll show you 3 most popular recipes to enjoy mochi using these Kiri Mochi. Each family cook these mochi differently based on their preference. My family (in Japan) love crispy toasted mochi rather than boiled mochi, so we always toast mochi first before flavoring. Read the Note section of the recipe for microwaving and boiling method.
Types of Japanese Mochi
Here are the three flavors we make today. Anko Mochi, Kinako Mochi, and Isobeyaki.
Anko Mochi (餡子餅) is a mochi where we place red bean paste inside the mochi.
Kinako Mochi (きな粉餅) is mochi coated with a mixture of kinako (roasted soybean flour) and sugar.
Isobeyaki (磯辺焼き) is mochi coated with a mixture of soy sauce and sugar, and wrapped with nori seaweed. Most people prefer Isobeyaki without sugar, but my family always makes it with sugar. I assume this is not based on regional differences, but it depends on family’s preference.
What’s your favorite? When I was growing up, I couldn’t pick my favorite… So for the Japanese New Year Day, I used to eat 6 pieces of mochi – 2 in Ozoni, 2 Anko, 1 Kinako, and 1 Isobeyaki. I wish I am young again so I could eat 6 mochi in one sitting without worrying increasing my waist size!
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- 3 pieces kiri mochi (rice cakes)
- A small ball of hot water
- 2 Tbsp. kinako (roasted soybean flour)
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- Place mochi in a toaster oven and toast until puffed up and golden brown, about 10 minutes (See Note 2).
- Add 1 Tbsp. of sugar to soy sauce and microwave for 20 seconds.
- Add 1 Tbsp. of sugar to kinako and mix well.
- Gently smash the mochi with your hand.
- For Kinako Mochi, soak the mochi in hot water, then dredge in the kinako + sugar mixture.
- For Isobeyaki, soak the smashed mochi in soy sauce and sugar mixture and wrap with seasoned nori.
- For Anko mochi, pull the smahsed mochi from both side and wrap around anko. It’s sticky, so be careful when handling.
2: Besides toasting/roasting the mochi, you can also boil it in the water until soft. You can also use a microwave to cook mochi. In a small bowl, put a mochi and cover with water. Microwave it until it’s soften.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.