Going Japanese

Red Bean Mochi

A few weeks ago my Kellogg girls and I had a girls’ night out at Arami based off of the recommendation of the Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.  The restaurant was a little further west than I’m used to in Chicago, but worth the bit of a drive.  It was a very clean and modern space filled with pretty people and fun conversation.  It was a bit tight, but there looked like there was also an extension of a comfortable outside seating area for the summer.  The food was extremely elegant and tasty.  Here’s a few items from our dinner:

Monk Fish with Foie Gras and Wasabi crunch

Seared Scallops, Salmon, and Sweet Potato Crunch

For dessert we had lemon ginger ice cream along with sesame ice cream and grilled mochi.  The little taste of mochi that night had me wanting more.  Mochi is rather easy to find in Asian markets and in so many flavors and forms (including filled with ice cream, a must have dessert after lunch at Sushi Kushi), but I decided to tackle it myself.  So, I’ve made something similar to mochi before (see past entry), but in baked form which is a bit easier than trying to man-handle the sticky dough.  First time always never turns out the best, and in this case my mochi was a bit under cooked and rice floury in taste.  Also, mochi’s greatness is about the sticky slightly mushy but springy at the same time rice dough and I felt that I rolled mine out too thin and so the red bean filling over-powered the snack.  In my second attempt I will plan to steam my mochi dough on a double boiler instead of the microwave so that I can tell when it is the right doneness and consistency and also keep the mochi a bit thicker when forming the balls to get the chewiness in each bite.  Maybe I’ll even change up the flavors and add some green tea powder or sesame seeds!  Want to try your own hand at this fun Japanese sweet?  Here’s the recipe:

Mochi (Sweet Rice Cake with Red Bean Paste)

– 1 cup glutinous rice flour (mochiko)
– 1 1/2 tbsps sugar
– 2/3 cup water (or coconut milk)
– about 3/4 cup of red bean paste (2 tbsps per mochi)
– 1 cup cornstarch
– 1 tbsp powdered sugar

Combine glutinous rice flour with sugar and water in a microwave safe bowl (or heat proof bowl, like glass, if doing the double boiler method) and mix until smooth.  Microwave the mixture on high for 1-2 minutes.  The mixture will start to set, so check every 30 seconds and stir it up a little bit.  If attempting to steam the dough with a double boiler, place the glass bowl and mixture on a pot of simmering water and stir until the dough sets.  A done dough will be almost translucent and smooth, sticky and soft (not wet).

Lightly cover your working surface (countertop or cutting board) with some cornstarch and dump the cooked dough on to your work surface (use a spatula or cornstarched hands to maneuver the dough).  Cut the dough ball in half and then cut each half into thirds making six even pieces to work with.  I found that using a pastry scraper to cut the dough was a bit easier than a knife.

Now for the fun part!  With your hands coated in cornstarch, flatten the dough into a circle about 3-4 inches in diameter.  (I actually rolled out each dough piece with a rolling pin, which made them too thin).  Ideally you want the outer edge to be slightly thinner than the center of your flattened disc, as the edges will be pinched together to form your ball.

Once you’ve made your flattened disc, place about 2 tablespoons of red bean paste into the center of the disc.  Then carefully lift the edges of the mochi up over the red bean paste and pinch them together to completely encase it.  Roll the mochi into a ball.

Finally, dust the mochi in a mixture that is half cornstarch and half powdered sugar to make it easy for storage and eating!

Red Bean Filling

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