Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mochi: The Solution

Somehow, I heard of the mochi-tsuki-ki a few weeks ago. I don’t remember how this happened. A mochi-tsuki-ki is a mochi making machine, which cooks mochi and then pounds it into putty. At the end, the mochi desirer is left with a nice, hot pile of perfectly pounded mochi, sometimes even cut into individual pieces. This machine is amazing!

(Not only amazing, the mochi-tsuki-ki is also precedent-setting. Apparently, it was the inspiration for Western bread making machines. I don’t know whether one could make bread in a mochi-tsuki-ki, but it would seem that the reverse is quite impossible. The mixing action necessary to make mochi is far beyond the capabilities of a bread machine.)

The conclusion was clear; I needed a mochi maker. It was the absolute only way to bring kosher mochi into the house. There were just a few problems.

Mochi makers are big. They don’t come in different sizes; all mochi makers appear to be ten-cup-capable machines. Mochi makers are more powerful than bread makers, and also at least as big.

They are also pricey – over $300. That is a lot of money for a single-function machine that one might use two or three times a year.

Still, if there’s no other way to make mochi, and if never going to get past my (ten years running) obsession with wagashi, then it seemed that a mochi maker was the only way to move forward.

As I pondered the pros and cons of purchasing a machine that had a whole lot of strong pros and strong cons involved, I continued searching the internet for any other way that I could make mochi. Or even just find mochi that I could bring into our kitchen.

Finally, mochi salvation came in the form of a post called “Homemade mochi the modern way” from the JustHungry blog

This blog has some great Japanese food ideas on it. The author writes food articles for the Japan Times, and on her blog she will often post her articles, followed by an addendum for readers outside of Japan, to discuss how to find or substitute the ingredients that are easily available only in Japan.

The author of JustHungry reports success at making mochi with her KitchenAid, using the dough hook on hot mochi for about 15 minutes. I’d recommend looking at her pictures, since my experience looked about the same (and I couldn’t maintain non-sticky hands, so I kept my camera away).

The outcome was… mochi! Successful, real mochi, made at home with a machine I already have!

It did cool by the end of its 15 minutes of kneading, which made it extremely hard to work with. Next time, I am going to try positioning a wide metal bowl underneath the main bowl of the food processer, and I will fill that bowl with boiling water about halfway through the process. Hopefully, this will leave me with more manageable mochi.

Manageable mochi, manageable mochi. I don’t think that such a creature exists.

My success at mochi made it clear that I need to celebrate an upcoming holiday, New Years Day, in proper Japanese style. That means more mochi coming soon, as well as a slew of other exciting foods.

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