Sunday, March 6, 2011

2011 Mochi Making

My family is very far from a traditional Japanese family, actually, my cousin once said we look like an ad campaign from United Colors of Benetton. :) However, one tradition we try to keep alive is annual Mochi making. We don't make Mochi the traditional way, kneading and pounding away at glutinous rice. No, we're modern. There's a machine that will do it for you. I don't think our palettes are distinguished enough to notice the difference anyways. But, even with the machine, it's still a huge task, and that's why we only do it once a year. We get together for lunch and we have a ton of food! Some people just come to hang out and see everyone, and get togethers are always fun with my crazy family!

The process starts at least 1 day before the get together. The rice needs to be soaked in water for about 12 hours.

After the rice has soaked, it needs to be strained overnight.

Next come the machines... This year we had 2, so the process went much faster than usual!

The machine cooks the rice, then with the turn of a dial, it kneads the rice in the machine. Easy!

While the rice is cooking and kneading we get the big island counter ready. The Mochi is extremely sticky, so we use lots of Mochiko (rice powder) to prevent sticking.

Everyone washes their hands and we spread a generous layer of Mochiko on the counter. Cleaning up dried chunks of Mochi from the counter is a pain, the Mochiko prevents it from sticking to the counter.

The instructions say to knead for 7-10 minutes, so it has to be checked every so often to be sure there aren't any lumps and the Mochi dough is smooth.

Once the dough is smooth, it's pulled out of the machine with an insert and plopped on the Mochiko covered counter.

It's extremely hot, so we have to work fast! Again, it's extremely sticky and can burn you, so we coat our hands in Mochiko as well, so it doesn't burn our hands!

We realized that the best way to cut the giant glob of Mochi would be to quickly shape it into a log and cut chunks off to be shaped.

One person cuts the "log" of Mochi, and everyone gathers around to start shaping the Mochi into smooth balls.

Working really quickly we roll and twist and smooth out each ball of Mochi. Everyone usually forgets how to do it, so we rely on my Auntie Alice to teach us every year!

Each piece is placed on a Mochiko covered tray and set aside to cool. We're not the greatest at staying uniform in size, but again, we do this once a year, none of us claim to be experts!

The Mochi will become hard as it cools, and once it's completely cool, we package them in freezer bags for everyone to take home!

There are several ways to eat Mochi, most commonly it's toasted and served with equal parts of soy sauce and sugar mixed together. My favorite way to eat Mochi is here:

Thank you to my fantastic family for another great time of making Mochi, laughing hysterically and eating until we're stuffed! You are the best!!! I love you!

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