Chewy and sweet red bean mochi

My pantry holds the goods for many recipes I hope to make, some get made while others do not. I bought a box of mochiko (sweet rice flour) and azuki beans (dried red beans) with the intent of making mochi. They’ve sat in my cupboard for some time, just waiting for their day in the spotlight.

I fell in love with the texture of mochi several years ago. A sweet filling surrounded in a chewy, soft dough – what’s not to love? Common to the Japanese, mochi are quite popular and can be found in nearly every Asian market.

The azuki beans (aka adzuki) are small, dark red beans typically made into a paste and sweetened. The red bean paste is common in many Chinese desserts and pastries. The bag said to soak them overnight, but since I’m horrible about planning ahead, I skipped this step entirely. I placed 2/3 cup of the beans into a pot and covered with water. I simmered in a covered pot for 1.5 hours and had to add more water midway through cooking. You want the beans to be soft.

Drain the beans and place into a blender. Puree beans then scoop into a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup sugar. The beans were thick but when the sugar was added they become much more moist, almost runny. The next step will remove the moisture and create the correct paste-like consistency.

Heat a skillet over medium heat with a few tablespoons vegetable oil. Pour in the bean mixture. Using a spatula or spoon, move the mixture around in the pan. Continue to stir until the mixture turns into a thick paste. It will also darken to a deep purple-red color. Remove from heat. Once it has cooled, place into a bowl and refrigerate.

You can also buy red bean paste in a can from an asian market. I figured I should try making it before buying a prepared version. It turned out to be easy enough to do.

Now for the chewy dough, which has mesmerized me. Once again, it’s quite simple to make, it just uses ingredients that aren’t common to Westerners. You need to use mochiko, also known as sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour.

Mix 2 cups mochiko with 1 cup sugar, then add 1 3/4 cup warm water. Stir to form a batter. Pour into a heatproof bowl and place into a steamer for 30-40 minutes or until the dough is firm and set. Aside from steaming vegetables, this cooking technique may not be too familiar to some. You can use any type of steamer that you may have. My bamboo steamer was too small for my bowl so I used my wok and covered it with a lid.

The dough will be a white sticky blob. Allow it to cool so you can handle it. In the meantime, take out your red bean paste and form teaspoon sized balls. The paste is firm enough to easily work with. In a flat dish, like a pie plate, put 1/4 cup cornstarch. Cornstarch is used to dampen the stickiness of the dough. It’s not optional — it’s required. The dough is the stickiest thing you’ll ever encounter.

When the dough has cooled, scoop a golfball sized piece of dough and drop into the cornstarch. Lightly toss to coat the outside of the ball so you can handle it. Roll the dough into a ball, then flatten to form a 3″ circle. Place the red bean paste in the center and pinch edges together to seal. Roll the ball in the cornstarch once again, then roll between the palms of your hands to create a ball shape. Repeat until done. Makes ~2 dozen.

Mochi can be left at room temperature for a few days or refrigerated for longer keeping. I put mine in the fridge because I like the extra chewy texture it creates. They turned out perfectly and taste like the real thing. Mochi can be served as dessert but also work perfectly for snacking (um, like right now).

Now that I know how to make them, I’m anxious to play with the flavorings and fillings. Some mochi come in different colors or are flavored with green tea, cocoa, etc. Ice-cream mochi are to die for, instead of red beans the dough is wrapped around a ball of ice-cream to make a treat so much better than an ice-cream sandwich!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Joe March 14, 2008, 11:01 am

    A delightful chilled treat after a long commute home from work. The good thing about homemade mochi is you can make it as big as you want!

  • Allen March 14, 2008, 12:48 pm

    Yeah … the size of the mochi was proportional to my impatience :-) The first few mochi were small and cute, then I started to rush and opted to make a few ‘adult-sized’ mochi as well :-)

  • Peter G March 14, 2008, 1:53 pm

    What a wonderful and informative post on this great snack Allen. I’m glad they worked out.

  • Ginny March 14, 2008, 4:56 pm

    Awesome! I love mochi but have never tried it…I really need to get on that…

  • orbiter March 14, 2008, 6:15 pm

    Apparently many westerners do not like mochi because of the “strange” texture – it is unlike anything else that is common in Western cuisine.

    I can never comprehend how anyone can dislike the texture of mochi.

    However, I don’t really like the japanese kind of mochi as the filling is always too sweet. I love it the way Chinese eat it – plain with no filling, then rolled in crushed peanuts and sugar. They are called “muah chee” (actually just ‘mochi’ in chinese dialect)… you have to try it!

  • noskos March 14, 2008, 7:09 pm

    Filled with green tea ice cream they are to die for!!!

  • Allen March 14, 2008, 8:04 pm

    Peter G: Thank you!

    Ginny: Thank you! If you try it, let me know.

    Oribter: I have a strange fetish for textures, so I’m an abnormal Westerner :-) The plain ones are good too — I guess you could say I’ve never met a bad mochi.

    Noskos: Hmmm, I’m a fan of mochi filled with mango ice-cream, but green tea are pretty darn good too :-)

  • Anonymous March 14, 2008, 8:53 pm

    great post! may i suggest that when you’re forming the balls, just use a little extra of the rice flour (mochiko) instead of cornstarch. does the same duty and it all stays in the family.

  • Ben March 15, 2008, 8:48 am

    Interesting post, Allen. Once again you’ve introduced me to a whole new world of food. That’s what I like the most from our foodie community.

    Cheers!

  • Anonymous March 15, 2008, 2:07 pm

    hah hah hah – Allen, I bought ingredients for red bean mochi many months ago, and they are STILL sitting in my cupboard! Maybe I’ll get them started before baby comes out! This is Queenie!

  • Kevin March 15, 2008, 3:41 pm

    Those look good! I made some ichigo daifuku a while ago. Mochi has a really nice texture.

  • Allen March 15, 2008, 4:20 pm

    Anonymous: Great suggestion, I’ll try that next time!

    Ben: I know what you mean — I keep finding something new and exciting every day. There just isn’t enough time to try it all :-)

    Queenie: Haha — great minds think alike! I expect to see you blogging after the baby is born … although you probably won’t have any time. :-)

    Kevin: Thanks for stopping by! After you mentioned your mochi, I had to visit your site and find it :-) Here is the link to Kevin’s Ichigo Daifuku. It includes a fresh strawberry in the middle — YUM!

  • canucklehead March 16, 2008, 12:23 pm

    Great post!

    I did not realize it was cornstarch taht was used to coat the outside of mochi. Can the mochi be used in savory preparations liked the do in Japan?

    I’ve seen then being pounded forever and then rolled out thin and toasted over charcoal grills.

    Great pictures.

  • Allen March 16, 2008, 9:32 pm

    Canucklehead: Thanks! Cornstarch works perfectly for dusting the outside of mochi. Some people also use the rice flour or even confectioners sugar.

    I’m not familiar with savory preparations. I’ve heard of mochi used in soups, but aside from that I’ve only seen the sweet versions. Toasting over a charcoal grill sounds wonderful though – it must impart alot of flavor!

  • YDavis April 2, 2008, 12:32 pm

    orbiter said…
    I love it the way Chinese eat it… called “muah chee”

    That’s my favorite! Haven’t had that in a long long time. You could also use the peanut & sugar mixture as the filling.

  • Anonymous April 20, 2008, 1:05 pm

    Mochi with the sweet red bean filling is a confection called “manju” or “daifuku.”

    The savory version does not have sugar added, since the rice is sweeter than traditional short-grain rice. It is usually made from “sweet rice” that needs to be washed and soaked overnight. The traditional way was to pound the rice although now there are small tabletop mochi matchines that cook and pound the rice.

    The plain mochi is then shaped into round “cakes.” The fresh mochi is great served with soy sauce with or without a little sugar dissolved into it. You can wrap it in nori (seaweed) and toast it. Served with soy sauce. Puff it up in the toaster oven or broiler and put it into soups as a kind of crouton. Or put smaller pieces into sukiyaki, where it soaks up all the yumi flavors.

    If you use the sweet brown rice, it is not so smooth, but adds a nutty brown rice taste. This version works best in the savory fashion and toasted.

    Sorry so long

  • Erin @ The Skinny Gourmet May 22, 2008, 9:49 pm

    What a very cool and informative post. Super interesting, and on a food I havent heard of or tried before. You’ve peeked my interest though…

  • Zuly September 22, 2008, 9:21 am

    Great work! The mochi looks awesome! I used to have ice-cream mochi at least once a week when I was small. My favourite is the yam flavour mochi which are purple in color~

    If you like, you may want to try black sesame filling next time. Or peanut filling. These two are the most popular fillings in China, Korean and Japan ! You can make the filling by grinding the nuts to powder, add sugar and add enough liquid to make the correct consistency. Traditionally, oil is added but I don’t think this is the only solution, just a convenient solution for commercial products.

    have fun!

  • Meredith March 16, 2009, 8:13 am

    Thank you for posting this! I have to bring in a Japanese food for a presentation tomorrow, and the recipes my partner and I came up with were far too ingredient-heavy and not nearly as tasty cold. I thought of mochi-ko and was thrilled to see someone had included a recipe here: simple, easy-to-read, and perfectly do-able. I can only hope the ones I made turn out as well as yours… I’m not actually going to sample them until class time!

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