Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Steamed Mochi

Who knew that steamed mochi was the easiest thing in the world to make? Granted, I have a rice cooker, but even without special equipment it is a simple thing.

I have long been addicted to the mochi topping (always with the eurotart flavor and diced strawberries) at Pinkberry-esque frozen yogurt shops; it has something to do with the sweet chewiness of the mochi, which satisfies me almost like a good homemade marshmallow does. So when I read this post about strawberry daifuku mochi on Chocolate and Zucchini, I made it almost immediately. Thank goodness I happened to have glutinous sweet rice flour on hand!

I made my family's baked mochi recipe earlier this year, which I suspect came out a bit differently than it should; I had been wanting to try it again, but the giant 9x13 pan of chewy rice product was not super appealing to me since it's tedious to cut up and almost impossible to finish (even when I farmed it out to all my friends last time some still ended up eating through a container on top of my fridge). This, however, was perfect - just enough mochi to cover 10 strawberries in a thin layer, or 6 balls of ice cream. And small enough to make in my teeny-tiny rice cooker.

Don't be intimidated by the length of the text below; basically, this recipe involves dumping the ingredients into the cooking bowl, steaming for 10 minutes, and then cutting it up. Really, really easy.

I've made it twice so far; the first time I wrapped strawberries and blueberries in the mochi, and the second time I made it pink (!) and wrapped balls of TJ's nonfat plain frozen yogurt. I'm not a pro yet at handling the fresh mochi, but it was fun to use and eat, of course.

Steamed Mochi
(from Chocolate and Zucchini - read the original post for info on different kinds of mochi)

100 g or 3.5 oz glutinous rice flour (mochiko flour works - find at an Asian market)
50 g or 1/4 C granulated sugar
2/3 C cold water
a few drops of food coloring if desired
plenty of potato or corn starch for dusting (potato is lighter but more expensive and rare)
optional: 10 small strawberries or 20 large blueberries, red bean paste
OR ice cream/frozen yogurt

Berry option prep:
Rinse, dry, and hull berries. Coat in red bean paste if desired and place in refrigerator on a plate.

Ice cream/frozen yogurt option prep:
Line a small rimmed baking sheet that will fit in your freezer with parchment paper or wax paper. Scoop your ice cream or frozen yogurt into small balls and place evenly on baking sheet. Freeze in your freezer for at least 1 hour prior to wrapping in mochi. Place the container in which you will store the completed mochi ice cream balls in the freezer as well, so that it will be cold when you place the mochi-covered balls in it (the mochi will be warm when you wrap the balls, so it will melt them a little and cause them to take a while to firm up in the freezer once completed).

If you have a microwave: combine the rice flour, sugar, and water (and food coloring) in a plastic or glass bowl, and stir to dissolve. Cook for 2 minutes in the microwave on medium, stir with a silicone spatula, and repeat once or twice, until the mixture is thick and slightly translucent.

If you have a rice cooker: combine the rice flour, sugar, and water (and food coloring) in the bowl of the rice cooker, and stir to dissolve. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stiring once or twice during that time with a silicone spatula, until the mixture is thick and slightly translucent.

If you have a steamer: combine the rice flour, sugar, and water (and food coloring) in a heatproof bowl that fits inside your steamer, and stir to dissolve. Place the bowl in the steamer and cover the bowl with a heatproof plate or cover. Close the steamer and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stiring once or twice during that time with a silicone spatula, until the mixture is thick and slightly translucent.

(above: pink mochi that's finished cooking in the rice cooker)

While the rice flour mixture is cooking, pour a generous layer of potato/corn starch in a rimmed baking sheet, and keep more starch on hand. When the rice flour mixture is ready, pour it onto the prepared baking sheet; it will be super sticky. Sprinkle generously with more starch, pat the dough to flatten it as thinly as possible (caution: it will still be rather hot), and use a pastry cutter or a knife to cut it into pieces big enough to wrap your berries or ice cream, square or triangular pieces. I handled the dough with non-latex gloves. The dough will get less flexible as it cools, so try to work at a brisk pace. Save the unused starch in a container to use again next time.

If using berries:

Remove the coated strawberries from the fridge. Take one piece of dough, stretch it gently so it will be large enough to envelop a strawberry, and place it on the palm of your hand. Dust the starch off the top surface with a pastry brush, place a coated strawberry in the center, tip side down, and wrap the dough around it, twisting the edges gently to seal into a pouch, and making sure the dough doesn't tear.

Place the daifuku seam side down on a plate dusted with potato starch, and repeat with the rest of the ingredients.

Let rest for an hour to set and cool to room temperature before serving. Leftovers should be covered and stored at room temperature, but note that strawberry daifuku taste best on the day they're made, so don't make more than you plan to eat within a day or so. They'll get a little mushy on the second day:

If wrapping ice cream/frozen yogurt balls:

Remove frozen balls from the freezer and place the storage container next to your work area. As with the berry instructions, dust each mochi piece off with a pastry brush and work quickly to wrap each ball with the mochi, pinching the seams together. Place in the cooled storage container and freeze until solid before serving.

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