Test Kitchen - Sweet Mochi

Mochi cover

When I took an inventory of all that we had left in our pantry the other day, I came across a forgotten packet of red beans and about half a cup of sweet rice flour left in a bag. Still determined to eat as much of our pantry as possible before leaving Kenya, I decided to try my hand at turning my latest discoveries into sweet mochi (or chap-ssal-ddeok as it's called in Korea).  

Mochi 2

After perusing through a handful of recipes online, I decided that the endeavor would need to be carried out in two phases: phase one to make homemade sweet red bean paste and phase two to stuff said red bean paste into envelopes of chewy rice cake.  I'm not entirely sure why, but I was pretty intimidated by the task... perhaps because I've had plenty of experience consuming all different kinds of rice cakes but practically zero experience making them.  As it turned out, the process can be remarkably simple, especially if you have access to a microwave and a can of ready-made red bean paste.  As I had neither, I had to take a bit of an old skool route.  It was a little bit more laborious but certainly manageable and the results were delicious... which made it totally worth the effort.  


Sweet Red Bean Paste 
Adapted from maangchi.com

1 c. dry red beans
3 c. water
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1.)  Wash and drain red beans.  Then place them in a pot with water.

2.)  Bring to boil over medium heat for 10 minutes with the lid on. Then lower the heat and simmer for about 1.5 hours.

3.)  Check that beans have softened enough to mash.  If beans are still too firm, add more water and continue to cook over low heat until they are soft enough to mash.  If/when beans are soft, mash until smooth using a wooden spoon or food processor.

4.)  If you used a food processor, return beans to the pot.  Stir in brown sugar, salt, and vanilla extract over low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the paste takes on a glossy shine.

5.)  Take the bean paste off the heat and allow it to cool until it can be easily handled.  You may even chill it in the fridge to save time.  Once cooled, roll the paste into balls about 1 inch in diameter.

Sweet Rice Cake 
Adapted from Japanese Cooking 101 and maangchi.com

1 c. sweet rice flour (Mochiko flour)
3/4 c. water
1 c. sugar

1.) Mix rice flour and water in a heat proof bowl.  If the mixture is too dry, add more water 1 Tbsp at a time until well combined.

2.)  Place the bowl of dough in a steamer and steam for about 20 minutes.

3.)  Transfer the steamed rice cake dough into a pot.  Add 1/3 of the sugar and cook over medium to medium low heat until the sugar completely dissolves and is fully incorporated.  Repeat this process two more times, adding 1/3 of the sugar each time.  In the end, you will have added a full cup of sugar in total.

4.)  Transfer the hot rice cake dough onto a sheet pan that is generously dusted with cornstarch.

5.)  Using a spatula or your hands, shape the dough into a smooth rectangular shape approximately 1/4 inch in thickness.  If using your hands, it helps to keep them wet to prevent them from sticking to the dough.

6.)  Turn the dough over and cut into 14-16 evenly sized squarish pieces.

7.)  Place a ball of sweet red bean paste in the center of a piece of rice cake.  Pull the rice cake around the ball and seal it by pinching the edges.  Flour your hands with corn startch to prevent the rice cake from sticking to your fingers.

8.)  Repeat with the remaining pieces of rice cake.


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