In the past I thought that gooey texture found in Japanese (daifuku-)mochi (soft rice cake filled with sweetened azuki beans) won’t be appreciated by the American. Then, one day several years ago on my visit to our dear friend Alan and Fran (very traditional American), in Palo Alto, California, I surprisingly found that Fran stocks mochi ice cream in their freezer. They love the unique texture of the mochi ice cream.
If you are a fan of mochi ice cream try this recipe. This is not the frozen version. This recipe produces fresh silky, gooey mochi filled with sweetened azuki paste. Out of curiosity I froze some of my home-made mochi in the freezer to see how the texture of mochi changes. The result was that the freezing definitely hardened the mochi and could not bite into it right away after being taken out of the freezer. This means that commercially available mochi ice cream should have some chemical addition to the mochi to keep it soft during freezing. I left my frozen mochi for about 10 minutes at room temperature to thaw it out and tried it. The mochi was already tender. So next time I try the recipe with ice cream stuffing. When we make something to eat from scratch by ourselves, we are rewarded with natural, healthy food at the end. Also, we get lots of fun out of making it.
The most important ingredient in this recipe is the rice flour called Shiratamako. Shiratamako is made from sweet rice which is soaked in water, ground and dried. In the traditional way Shiratamako mixed with water and sugar is cooked in a steamer until it acquires shiny, half-translucent appearance and gooey texture. In this recipe I use quick-microwave version which many home cooks in Japan use.
Yields 8 ping pong ball size mochi
100g Shiratamako flour
1/4 cup corn starch
160g prepared sweet azuki bean paste, made into 8 balls
In a microwave safe container add the Shiratamako flour and water. With a whisk stir the mixture until it is smooth. Add the sugar to the flour liquid and stir thoroughly.
Cover the container with a lid and transfer it to a microwave oven. Cook the flour mixture for 1 minute. Remove the container from the microwave oven and carefully remove the lid. With a wooden spatula stir the flour mixture.
Cover the container with the lid and transfer it back to the microwave oven. Cook the flour mixture again for 1 minute. Repeat the same stirring process. Cook the flour mixture again for additional 1 minute. Total cooking is 3 minutes. When you stir the flour mixture after 3 minutes of cooking the flour mixture – mochi – acquires translucent, shiny appearance with heavily gooey texture.
In a large plate evenly cover the bottom with cornstarch. Transfer the cooked mochi to the cornstarch-covered plate. Corn starch prevents the mochi sticking to the plate and your hand. Cut the mochi evenly into 8 pieces. When the mochi cooled off wrap each azuki ball in each piece of mochi. Freshly made mochi can stay fresh for 3 days in the refrigerator.