This dessert requires no specific event, because it really leaves an impression on anyone you make it for. Mochi is one of my favorite sweet delights I’ve discovered as an adult. Also known as Ang Ku Kueh, it is Chinese sweetened, glutinous (sticky, not to be confused with anything ‘gluten’) rice-flour dough, traditionally filled with flavored bean paste. Even if your guests have tried Mochi before, there is a full range of flavors you have at your disposal- any flavor you can imagine going well with sweet, chewy dough, will fit the bill!
*This confection is split into two recipes; one for the filling, and the other for the dough. It makes approximately 16 Green Tea Mochi.
Green Tea Flavored Bean Paste:
• 12 ounce bag of white/red beans (pick your favorite, its just a base that flavor will be added to. I find that black beans carry more inherent savory flavor, therefore I do not use them for sweetening.)
• 2 Tablespoons Green Tea Powder
• 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup or Honey (optional, if beans are too dry during mashing)
• ½ Cup White Sugar (flexible, to taste)
Prep: 15 Minutes
The night before you serve, pour the bag of beans into a pot, cover with one inch of water, and soak them overnight. When you are ready to begin, drain the beans. Heat in a small pot over medium heat, add the green tea powder, sugar, and mix well. Taste test, this will be the flavor filling the rice dough. After about fifteen minutes the beans should begin to break down. At this time, use any tool you might normally use to mash potatoes. The beans I used were still a bit dry, so I added the tablespoon of honey. Mash until the mixture becomes a paste, transfer to a bowl, and set aside in the refrigerator. Keep in mind, the mixture will become more solid as it cools.
Mochi Dough (Glutinous Rice Flour Dough):
• 2 Cups Glutinous Rice Flour (I used Mochiko®)
• 2 Tablespoons White Sugar
• 1 Cup Warm Water
• ½ Cup Water (separately)
• ¼ teaspoon Salt
• Food Coloring (optional)
Prep: 10 Minutes
In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients and stir with a fork, until well incorporated. Add one cup of warm water, and the food coloring. Begin mixing and kneading the dough. It will resemble cookie dough, and come together as one piece. If your dough is too crumbly, add water a teaspoon at a time, until you have reached the desired texture. Set aside with a damp cloth over the top of the bowl.
I tried a few different methods in putting this together, because I couldn’t conceive of buying a steaming bowl/plate just for this purpose. Many burned fingers later, I’ve found a combination of tools that shouldn’t be hard to find, or adjust, based on what most people have in their kitchens.
• 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
• ½ Cup Water
• Sandwich bag that seals
• Deep Stew Pot
• Pot Lid/Large Plate
• ½ -1 Cup Corn Starch
• 2 Paper Plates (the Mochi is less likely to stick to paper, rather than glass)
• Tin Foil
Prep: Approximately 1 Hour
Take the bean paste out of the fridge, and scoop it into the sandwich bag, much like you would with icing. Snip a hole in one of the corners until the diameter of the hole is close to ½ inch. Set aside. Place your strainer inside the pot, and fill the pot with water to a level about 1 inch below the strainer. Remove the strainer. Set the pot of water on the burner you intend to use and complete the next few steps.
Before you grab the dough, I found that when I mixed ½ cup water and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a bowl, then dipped my hands in, that the rice dough is easier to work with. Start working with the dough by tearing off tablespoon-sized portions at a time, and use your fingers to create a small, rounded, disc. For each disc, using your bag of bean paste, squeeze a thumb-sized amount into the center. Bring the sides of the rice-dough-disc up, and pinch it together around the paste. The disc should be more oval or round at this point, and the shape will not change in cooking- I gave mine a good play-dough roll between my palms, to give them a ball shape. Place each ball onto the paper plate, to wait for the boiling water. If the dough has become sticky again from the warmth of your hands, sprinkle a bit of cornstarch on the paper plate before moving on to the second ball. Repeat this process to finish out the entire batch of green tea mochi. Tear off pieces of tin foil just large enough to place under 4-6 mochi balls.
At the Stove:
Turn on the burner meant to heat your pot of water, on high, and bring to a boil, we will be steaming the mochi. Place a few balls inside the strainer, each with a sheet of tin foil under them. Be sure to not let them to touch, because once they cook, you will never get them apart. Place the strainer inside the pot and cover. Pour the cornstarch onto the paper plate. After about 15-20 minutes, you will know the mochi is done because will be more translucent, and very sticky and soft. Take the strainer out of the pot. Dip your fingers in the oil water. Use a spoon to scoop the mochi balls out and into the cornstarch, one by one. Use your fingers to roll them, and coat with cornstarch. Lastly, place each ball on the second paper plate. A few tin foil sheets were to sticky to re-use, so I tore off more as the process went on. Repeat this method until all of the Mochi balls are piled on your paper plate and ready to be packaged!