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How to make mochi: complete step-by-step guide

how to make mochi

Comprehensive guide on how to make mochi outlines the different kinds, steps to make and shape mochi and choices of fillings and uses.

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Mochi are sweet Japanese rice cakes made from mochigome, the short-grain sticky rice from Japan. They are usually offered with different fillings – such as anko (bean paste), strawberries and ice cream – or in delicious flavors – such as matcha, chocolate or even cherry blossom.

The ground rice is pounded into a paste, optionally mixed with other flavorful ingredients and shaped into balls or blocks. Mochi are then used for both savory and sweet dishes.

Although the rice cakes are eaten all year round, it is an old tradition to eat this sweet, especially on the Japanese New Year.

The following 4 tips plus a recipe will guide you step by step through the sweet world of Japanese mochi! For example, you will learn which ingredients are actually in the rice cakes, which variants there are and how you can easily prepare them yourself.

The varieties Mame Daifuku and Ichigo Daifuku are particularly popular. These Japanese sweets are constructed in such a way that the shell consists of a thin layer of mochi (i.e. a very simple, slightly sweet and very soft mass that is comparable to marshmallows) and inside there is a delicious, flavorful filling. In the Mame Daifuku, for example, the filling is a sweet paste made from red adzuki beans, and in the Ichigo Daifuku it’s whole strawberries.

How do mochi taste?

Simple mochi – i.e. without a filling or powder – taste similar to solid marshmallows , although the sugar has been reduced and more floury ingredients have been used instead – i.e. rather bland with a soft, chewy consistency.

However, they are usually prepared and sold with at least one other flavor component. This flavorful filling or coating is usually very sweet, so the entire rice cake is balanced sweet. You can find out which flavors are particularly popular in Japan below in the article .

What about their nutrition?

A matchbox-sized mochi has roughly the same calories as a bowl of rice. In earlier times, Japanese farmers ate rice cakes to increase their stamina, i.e. their stamina for strenuous work, especially in winter.

With homemade ones you can of course determine the amount of sugar added. However, you should pay close attention to the sugar content of the variants offered in the Asian supermarket. Even if it’s rice cakes, the emphasis is on cake !

Mochi are gluten-free and suitable for a vegan diet!

What ingredients do I need for mochi?

To make classic mochi (or white mochi dough), only four ingredients are required. These are:

Usagi Shiratamako (sweet Japanese sticky rice flour )
Katakuriko ( potato starch )
Sugar (white table sugar)
water

A smooth dough is stirred from this, which is then thickened using a steam bath or in the microwave. You can find out exactly how this works in the recipe below in the post!

Then there are the ingredients for a filling of your choice. I’ll show you later which varieties are particularly popular in Japan.

  1. Usagi Shiratamako (sweet Japanese sticky rice flour)

In Japan, rice flour is called Komeko and comes in two forms :

sticky (usually referred to as glutinous) and
not sticky (or non-glutinous).

The sticky rice flour used to make mochi is also called sweet rice flour , although despite the name, it is neither sweet nor gluten-free . The word sticky or glutinous is used to describe the stickiness of rice when cooked. Warning: do not use just any rice flour! It has to be sticky, glutinous rice flour for the rice cakes to work:

There are two types of sticky rice flour for mochi: Mochigomeko and Shiratamako

Both types are made from short-grain sticky rice (mochigome) by grinding the rice grains. The difference is that the Mochigomeko ( Mochiko for short) variety is made from washed glutinous rice and the variant called Shiratamako is made from soaked glutinous rice.

Both types are very suitable for making mochi. However, you should note that they differ in terms of use – especially when preparing a dough :

Mochi from Shiratamako have a very smooth, finer and more elastic texture, while those made with Mochiko are less elastic and doughier. You have to find out for yourself which variety you prefer personally 😉

I prefer to use this Usagi Shiratamako. My homemade mochi tastes best with this variety and the preparation works 100%:

Can I make rice flour myself?

Yes, making rice flour yourself is not difficult at all. You can, for example, use household appliances such as your mixer (for larger quantities – kitchen machines with an integrated chopper are also very suitable) or a coffee grinder (for smaller quantities). Note, however, that the sticky rice flour for mochi has to be ground as finely as powdered sugar!

  1. Katakuriko (potato starch)

A typical Japanese potato starch , also known as katakuriko , is essential for the preparation of mochi . It differs from the starch available in Germany in that it consists of 100% potato starch and is not mixed with other starches (for example from corn), as is the case with us.

It is in Japan both savory (for example, for binding sauces or for breading meat) as well as for Wagashi – – so used for traditional sweets like Daifuku Mochi (so that the sticky rice from sticking together). This katakuriko is very often used for mochi, which is ideal for making the mochi base dough.

Now that you have found out what mochi actually are and which ingredients are needed to make them, let’s look at the different variants. The sweet rice cakes are fresh and very tasty in the classic version, i.e. without an elaborate garnish or filling. However, there are many ingredients with which they can be wrapped, filled, or prepared in any other way .

The selection of mochi in Japan is endless. But to give you a good overview, let’s take a look at the most popular variants! You should know these 6 types of mochi:

Daifuku – the classic
Daifuku Aisu – sweet mochi ice cream
O-zoni and O-shiruko – delicious soups
Kirimochi and Kakumochi – for the toaster
Dango – Mochi balls on wooden skewers
Warabimochi and Uiromochi

Daifuku

Daifuku is the name given to the rice cakes that we normally find in every Asian grocery store. These Daifuku Mochi are round, very soft and filled with, for example, sweet red bean paste (also known as anko). Daifuku Mochi are filled with different fillings, anko is particularly popular.
You will get to know the best Daifuku varieties and the most delicious mochi fillings – for example with strawberries or matcha – in the next section!

Daifuku Aisu – sweet mochi ice cream

Small, colorful balls of mochi filled with ice cream are called daifuku aisu. In terms of taste, a large selection is offered here, and preparation at home is also very easy. Mochi ice cream has to be eaten quickly, otherwise it melts away. The traditional ice creams are vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. But other varieties are also becoming increasingly popular, such as coffee, plum wine, green tea or red beans.

O-zoni and O-shiruko – delicious soups

Now it’s getting hearty! The soup that is traditionally served on New Year’s Day is called zoni (or o-zoni) and varies from region to region or from family to family. Everyone has their own recipe, which is passed down through generations.

In O-zoni, a hot (mostly hearty) soup is placed with a few balls of rice cakes, which then become soft and very elastic in the hot water. A very popular variant, which can be found in eastern Japan and on Kyushu, is a clear seafood-based broth. Another variation is a miso-based soup that is popular in and around Kyoto.

A hearty o-zoni is best eaten on New Year’s Day. A third version is a sweet soup made from adzuki beans, or red beans, called O-shiruko: Shiruko or Oshiruko is a traditional Japanese dessert, where a sweet porridge made from boiled and mashed azuki beans is served in a bowl with mochi . The sweet soup is best eaten in winter when it warms body and mind.

Kirimochi and Kakumochi – for the toaster

Kirimochi (or occasionally kakumochi) are hard blocks of mochi , which in Japan are one of the most common basic ingredients in the kitchen. They are browned on a wire rack or grid above the toaster , which makes them very soft and very sticky – the effect can be compared to roasting marshmallows.

Kirimochi become soft on the inside and crispy on the outside over a grill or toaster with a grill. Toasted rice cakes are mostly eaten as a sweet topping or as an accompaniment to pasta, stews or other soups. Most varieties can be toasted in or over a toaster oven for a minute or two. Exceptions, of course, are rice cakes that contain cream or ice cream.

Dango – Mochi balls on wooden skewers

Dango are small balls made of rice flour , with an additional flavoring ingredient being incorporated. Often three dangos are put on a skewer and named after the respective ingredient. Bocchan Dango, which consist of three differently colored spheres, are particularly popular. Usually a red (colored with red beans), a yellow (with eggs) and a green (with green tea) are put together.

A skewer Bocchan Dango is a spring classic. Brand new flavors such as coconut, pineapple, mango, peanut butter, almond, coffee and chocolate are also very popular. There is also a version in which the dango is coated with a kind of caramel soy sauce.

Warabimochi and Uiromochi

This is a jelly made from starch that is coated with kinako (roasted soybean flour) . Warabimochi do not contain rice, but are still generally considered a type of rice cake. Uiromochi are Japanese steamed cakes made from rice flour and sugar. Again, this is a dessert that isn’t a real mochi, but is called that because of its chewy texture.

What mochi fillings are there in Japan?

As you have already read above, Daifuku is a Japanese mochi dessert, filled with a sweet filling. They are eaten just as often in Japan as a piece of cake is on the table in Germany. They are often made at home – but you can also find them in Konbini, supermarkets, dessert shops, cafes, restaurants, temples and tea ceremonies.

Daifuku can be eaten with the hands, a fork, or a small dessert skewer. They’re usually just big enough to fit snugly in the palm of your hand. But tiny, bite-sized versions are also popular in Japan. Usually daifuku are dusted with a powder (like potato starch or icing sugar) so that they don’t stick to the fingers in the hands.

The most popular Daifuku variants that you should try are:

Mame Daifuku – filled with sweet red bean paste (anko)
Yomogi Daifuku – grass-green rice cakes with mugwort
Ichigo Daifuku – filled with a whole strawberry
Sakura Daifuku – wrapped in a cherry tree leaf
Mame Daifuku – filled with sweet red bean paste (anko)
Mame Daifuku are mochi balls that contain anko (a paste made from red adzuki beans) inside : this is one of the most popular varieties in Japan and is sold all year round. Sometimes whole cooked soybeans or adzuki beans are mixed into the anko .

Other, less common Daifuku variants are:

Ume Daifuku – filled with Japanese plum paste (ume), which is often eaten in spring.
Yuzu Daifuku – filled with a bitter Japanese lemon paste (yuzu)
Matcha Daifuku – filled with a sweet matcha cream and sprinkled with a little matcha powder (green tea)
Choco Daifuku – simply delicious chocolate mochi!
Kinako Daifuku – sprinkled with toasted soybean flour
Kuro Goma Daifuku – filled with a paste made from black sesame, which goes very well with autumn because of its nutty taste
Kurumi Mochi – filled with roasted walnuts, delicious in autumn
Hanabira Mochi – snow-white mochi with a red filling (anko) in the form of a petal, typical dessert on New Year’s Day (petal mochi)

How to make mochi yourself

In Japan, mochi can be purchased anytime, anywhere, from candy stores to simple convenience stores. We who live outside of Japan may not have easy access to this delicious dessert … That’s why we make them quickly and easily at home! Just follow the steps in the recipe and conjure up your own delicious Daifuku Mochi.

Daifuku Mochi – with a sweet anko filling

for 20 pieces | 45 minutes | 165 kcal

Ingredients (20 pieces)
250 g Usagi Shiratamako (glutinous rice flour )
250 g Katakuriko (potato starch)
200 g Anko (sweet red adzuki bean paste)
125 g sugar
450 ml water

1st step: Prepare the ingredients for the homemade Daifuku Mochi with anko filling.

2nd step: Mix the Usagi Shiratamako (sticky rice flour) with the sugar in a medium-sized bowl that will fit in your microwave.

3rd step: Add water and stir thoroughly with a whisk.

4th step: Now cover the bowl with a special microwave cling film , but do not attach too tightly to the edges. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat it for 1.5 minutes at 1000 watts.

5th step: Remove the bowl and stir the mixture with a moistened rubber spatula. Cover again and heat in the microwave for another 1.5 minutes. Remove, stir, cover again and heat for another 60 seconds.

6th step:The color of the mochi dough should change from white to almost translucent and the mass should no longer look very moist (otherwise put it in the microwave for another 30 seconds).

7th step: Spread a large sheet of parchment paper on the work surface and dust generously with cornstarch. Place the cooked mochi dough on top – attention: the dough is very hot.

8th step: As soon as the dough has cooled down slightly, gently flatten it with your hands (which you have dusted with cornstarch beforehand) and spread more cornstarch on top so that the dough does not stick when rolling out.

9th step: Now roll out the dough flat with a rolling pin . Make sure that the dough does not look too far over the baking paper. The dough should be about 5 mm thick after rolling out. Put the dough and the baking paper in a cool place (for example in the refrigerator) where it can cool for 15 minutes.

how to make mochi

10th step: Put the dough back on the work surface and cut 12 circles out of the dough with a 9 cm wide cookie cutter – you can also use a large water glass or something similar.

how to make mochi

11th step:
Loosen and separate every Mochi carefully … remove the excess edges (eg with a pastry brush) and set on something plastic to the side (Warning: Not stacked because they would stick to one another!). When the mochi have been cut out tightly, there should be very little leftover batter.

how to make mochi

12th step: Take one of the mochi circles in your hand and place a portion of the red adzuki bean paste in the middle. The amount varies depending on the cookie cutter size and bean paste – you have to experiment a little.

how to make mochi

13th step: Use your fingertips to firmly press two opposite sides in the middle above the anko.

how to make mochi

14th step: Squeeze the rest of the folds in the middle (where all the folds meet is the underside of the mochi – so the look is not very important. The main thing is that the mochi dough does not tear on the top!). Dust the finished Daifuku Mochi with the brush with a little cornstarch on all sides. Do this with the rest of the way until it’s all gone.

how to make mochi

15th step: The mochi with sweet adzuki bean paste go well with a cup of green tea and are a delicious dessert on a Japanese menu. Done – Itadakimasu!

how to make mochi