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Friday, December 14, 2012

Back to basics, not happening

As I sat down, ready to type this post, ready to tell you all about my experience of a completely untraditional mochi making session, I realised that it wasn't as important as telling you about the dumb things that happened while making the mochi. Yes, the dumb things take precedence over the experience.


I came back from the last training of the year (finally!), ready to begin making mochi the modern way. You know, using glutinous rice flour and water and whatnot and baking it in the oven? Or the even more modern way, using a microwave (I don't have one). But alas, my mum forgot to get the glutinous rice flour and I really really really wanted to make mochi...

How? How?! HOW?!?!

Ah hah! An idea: do it the traditional way.

Not entirely traditional, but more so than using flour.

While searching for recipes on how to make mochi at home, I also read about the origins and traditions:

The mochi (餅) making process is called mochitsuki. Glutinous rice is soaked overnight and steamed. Then, it is pounded with wooden mallets (kine) in a traditional mortar (usu). The mass of pounded rice is wet and turned constantly during the pounding process to prevent it from drying up. It's eaten all year round, but is the traditional food for the Japanese New Year. Family members may take turns pounding the rice, after which they shape the mochi.

It seemed simple enough to me. Just cook the rice, pound it and shape it. So that exactly what I did, with a few mishaps along the way.


My mum showed me what was supposed to be glutinous rice she bought from taiwan, but was actually a mix of glutinous rice and regular rice. I soaked and cooked the rice, only to be told later that it's a mix and not purely glutinous rice. No wonder the rice wasn't sticky at all! There we go, just one night and a whole pot of rice wasted. We had the rice for dinner, and wow, it was so fragrant. I guess taiwanese rice is a little different from the rice we have here, where ever it's actually from.

We made a trip out to another supermarket, and there I bought the rice that I would use for making my mochi.


Black glutinous rice.

Surprise?

The plan was to go back to basics and be traditional, but never mind that. I'm going wholegrain! No snow white mochi today, but wholesome, black mochi.

I soaked the rice, cooked it in my trusty rice cooker. It's done so many rounds today :P

Now, for the pounding. Because my mortar isn't very big (it is in fact very small), I pounded some of it by hand in a mortar and pestle. and kneaded some of it in my stand mixer with the dough hook. The idea's from Just hungry's Homemade mochi (pounded rice) the modern way, who found it to be a better method than using a food processor or pounding it by hand.

But you know what? It failed. Entirely. Okay, maybe not entirely. Despite hours of pounding and long minutes of kneading in the mixer, I could not achieve the desired consistency. I tried processing it in the food processor for a while before kneading again. It made the mochi a little smoother, but not entirely. And it was also too soft, and could not be formed into little balls.

So what did I do? I took the 'mochi' and plopped it onto my waffle maker, and made 'moffles'. Well, they were somewhat like moffles. Just a little too soft, and a little unlike moffles, thanks to the fact that my 'mochi' wasn't exactly mochi. But they were awesome, even though the mochi was not.

Moffles with the successful mochi

I'm not satisfied with that. Definitely not. So I tried again. This time, I'm back to the old plan: glutinous rice flour.

This is such a simple method, and it produces a sweet (a little too sweet for me though; too much sugar maybe?), sticky, smooth mochi. I'm not sure how it compares to pounded mochi made from the rice though.


Once the mochi was done baking, I transferred half of it to my stand mixer to knead with the dough hook. I was actually testing out a theory: pounding the mochi after baking makes it chewier and smoother. And right I was. Then, I transferred the other half of my mochi and kneaded that as well. The result was chewy, sticky, smooth mochi.


Remember to remove the crispier and over baked parts because those are the parts which won't knead into a smooth mochi. They are great to eat though, the baked and crispy taste is like that of a moffle!


Ingredients:
500g glutinous rice flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar - feel free to increase/decrease according to taste

400ml coconut milk
2 cups water
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Method:
1. Sift together flour and baking powder and whisk in the sugar.

2. Whisk together coconut milk, water and vanilla essence.

3. Whisk in the dry ingredients until as smooth as possible.


4. Sieve the mixture into a greased 9x13 inch glass baking dish (I used 2 5x7 inch dishes).


5. Cover tightly with aluminium foil and bake at 175 degrees Celsius for 1 hour.


6. Remove the harder and crispy bits (they make the mochi less smooth after kneading) and place the remaining mochi into an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead on medium high speed for about 5-10 minutes.

7. Allow to cool completely.

8.For eating right away, cut with a plastic knife, or shape with your hands and roll in tapioca or potato starch

OR

If you want to keep the mochi for later use, wrap it up in plastic film and it will stay moist.

OR

Turn it out onto a surface floured with tapioca or potato starch and dust it with more starch. Leave it out to dry for about a day.

2 comments:

  1. I once made mochi in the traditional way at a primary school in Japan. It took ages and ages and everyone took turns at pounding the rice. You needed a lot of man-power. Was fun but definitely hard work. We all ate it in soup afterwards and it was delicious. I do love mochi!

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    1. That must have been a great experience! My entire family had the mochi boiled in shabu shabu in place of rice the day i made this and it was delicious :D I'm actually in japan now and its really interesting to see so many different varieties of mochi

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