Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cherry blossom and mochis recipe

Note: French version is on my other food blog La cuisine de Babeth

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In the land of the rising sun, spring is awaited with a quasi-religious fervor. Japaneses from around the world as well as a few connoisseurs are actively following the blossoming of the "sakuras", the cherry trees, and even plan their trip back home around that magical time. Timing is critical since the blossom last only a few days; yet it is quite hard to predict accurately since it depends on so many factors. Scientific build advanced predictions models and weather forecasts track the arrival of the "blossom front", the beginning of the week of bliss when the trees are filled with little pink flowers.

The first time I heard about this event was a few years ago while I was working in California and where I had a lot of Japanese coworkers. My colleagues were outdoing each other with their finest predictions and in no time the office was deserted as all my Japanese friends had left in a pink-colored frenzy to go back to the motherland to admire the spectacular blossom. It was quite disconcerting although not in the same way as the time I found myself like the main character in "fear and trembling". Don't worry, I was never asked to go and clean the rest rooms but still, the CEO - who had never even spoken to me- asked me to fetch him a coffee. Never mind I was an engineer...

Coming back to the spring-announcing cherry blossom, I just got the urge to eat mochis, these little glutinous rice-based Japanese delicacy. Here in France, they are all but impossible to find so I plucked up courage and zealously started on this new culinary endeavor. There are a lot of recipes hanging around the inter web but most of them involve a microwave, which I do not possess, but I eventually struck gold on Lydia's blog My Kitchen, a great source for asian cooking.

Quick trick: Don't try to keep mochis in the fridge! I tried to save some for Mathieu who was away last week during my mochis trials and unfortunately they became hard and tasteless. Enjoy them fresh!

Ingredients (24 pcs):

Filling (optional)
½ cup dried peeled mung beans
1 cup water
½ cup raw or caster sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
100g sweet potato, peeled and steamed
Pinch of salt

2 cup glutinous rice flour
½ cup cornstarch
3-4 tbsp condensed milk
1 cup & 1 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Food coloring (optional)

1 cup coconut flakes
  1. Filling: Rinse the mung beans and discard any residual peels. Combine beans with water and bring to boil. Cover and let it simmer over low heat, stir occasionally until all water is absorbed by the beans. It can also be cooked in the microwave using a microwave rice cooker as if cooking rice.
  2. Combine cooked mung beans, sugar, oil, sweet potato and salt in a food processor. Blend all ingredients to form smooth paste. Remove paste from food processor, divide and shape paste into 24 small balls. Keep in refrigerator until ready to assemble.
  3. Mochi: In a large mixing bowl, mix together glutinous rice flour and cornstarch. Pour in boiling hot water and stir rapidly to mix. Add in condensed milk and oil, mix well and knead to form a soft dough. Divide and shape dough into 24 small balls. Cover with damp cloth until ready to assemble.
  4. Assemble: Take a dough ball, make a deep impression with thumb (like a well) and place a filling ball in the middle. Bring all edges together and pinch to seal. Roll it around with palms to smooth out the edges and form a ball.
  5. Steam mochi balls over medium heat for 10 minutes. OR drop them into a pot of boiling water (medium heat), once they floated on the surface remove it with a spoon. I used boiling method, find it easier.
  6. Roll cooked mochi balls in the coconut flakes while they are still hot. Ready to serve.


Anonymous said...

Great story, thanks :-)

danny said...

wow, the mochis look really good! i am not quite ready to attempt them at home, but it is good to know it is possible!

Sophie said...

OOOH PINK MOCHIS! These things are so fun and tasty...I actually named my guinea pig after them! My husband is also a huge fan, so cool that you actually made them yourself :).

Flour Arrangements

Helen said...

What a fabulous recipe. I've never heard of these before and I really want to try them. Thank you for introducing me!

Gabi said...

How beautiful and pink for Spring! The cherry blossoms are gorgeous!

Fearless Kitchen said...

These are so pretty! I've had mochi, never tried to make them at home. I bet these would make a great treat for a bridal shower, or a baby shower if the child will be a girl.

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