What Is Mochi?

The world has gone crazy for mochi.

This inconspicuous Japanese dessert has been the talk of the town for quite some time now. But if you’re still unfamiliar with mochi, you may be a bit confused about what is happening.

What is in mochi that has made the entire culinary world lose its mind over it?

Well, where should we even begin?

For starters, let’s explain what mochi is. Then, we’ll tell you more about how it tastes, and if you’re curious enough, you’ll also learn how to make it and where to add it.

Buckle up, then. We’re flying to Japan.

What Is Mochi?

Mochi is a sweet, soft, and tender traditional Japanese rice cake (also known as Daifuku).

It is made of mochigome (short-grain rice) or sweet glutinous rice flour and has a firm rooting in Japanese culture, where it’s considered a “food of the Gods” and a symbol of good fortune.

Traditionally, mochi is made in the pounding ceremony of mochitsuki and is a customary food for the Japanese New Year. It is eaten all year round, though, being one of the most popular types of wagashi Japanese sweets.

What Is Mochi Made Of?

Mochi consists of mochi dough filled with a sweet filling.

The primary ingredient of traditional mochi is mochigome – short-grain japonica glutinous rice. The rice is pounded into a paste and molded to the desired shape during the pounding ritual called mochitsuki.

Mochi can also be made with glutinous rice flour, as well as the addition of sugar, water, and cornstarch. It is also often tinted with matcha and other food colorings.

As for the sweet filling variations, traditional Japanese mochi is filled with sweet red bean paste called anko. Other popular flavors include strawberry, mango, and ice cream.

What Does Mochi Taste Like?

Heaven.

If prepared correctly, words can’t do mochi justice. It’s tender and chewy, with a slight rice flavor. The filling is creamy and sweet. It’s as close to perfection as you can get.

Best Mochi Recipes

Now that you know how to make delicious mochi dough, here are some mouth-watering recipes for you to try out.

Mochi Ice Cream

Mochi ice cream is by far the most popular variation of this traditional Japanese snack. To make mochi ice cream balls, use our recipe above but use a scoop of ice cream as filling and freeze them before eating.

Sakura Mochi

Sakura mochi is extremely popular in Japan. This form of mochi is traditionally eaten on Japanese Girl’s Day, also known as Hinamatsuri. They are made of sweet glutinous sticky rice filled with sweet red paste and wrapped in a young pickled sakura leaf.

Mochi Donuts

Fried, chewy, and comforting. Mochi donuts will stay in your kitchen repertoire for years. Trust us on this. The recipe here is very similar to the one provided above, although it will also require salt, hot water, and baking powder in addition to typical mochi ingredients. You also fry the donuts instead of baking them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is mochi healthy?

Well, since mochi is a dessert in the full sense of the word, it’s not exactly the healthiest food option out there. It’s high in sugar and calories, but it can be a nice addition to your well-balanced diet if you use healthy fillings.

What is mochi ice cream?

Mochi ice cream is nothing else than a traditional mochi with an ice cream filling instead of red bean paste.

It was invented by Frances Hashimoto – a Japanese-American businesswoman and community activist. Introduced in the early 1990s, mochi ice cream became an instant hit across the US. It has recently experienced a resurgence following a viral TikTok trend.

Is mochi vegan?

Yes, traditional Japanese mochi is 100% vegan as it only consists of glutinous rice and red bean paste. As for other variations of the snack, it depends on the filling, which can use dairy products (e.g., mochi ice cream).

Is mochi gluten free?

Mochi is typically gluten-free, as it is made from glutinous rice flour, which does not contain gluten. However, some fillings or toppings might contain gluten, so it is essential to check the ingredients if you have a gluten sensitivity or allergy.

What are mochi donuts made of?

Mochi donuts are made from a combination of glutinous rice flour and regular wheat flour. This blend gives the donuts a unique, chewy texture similar to traditional mochi. Other ingredients include sugar, baking powder, milk, and eggs. They are also typically coated with a glaze or powdered sugar.

How do you make mochi?

To make mochi, first, cook a specific type of rice called glutinous or sweet rice. After it’s cooked, the rice is then pounded or ground into a smooth, sticky dough. This dough can be shaped and filled with various sweet or savory fillings depending on the recipe.

What is the traditional filling for mochi?

The traditional filling for mochi is a sweetened red bean paste called anko. Made from azuki beans, sugar, and water, anko is a popular filling used in Japanese desserts. Another common filling is white bean paste, also known as shiro-an. There are, however, many other filling options, such as fruit, ice cream, and nuts.

How to make mochi

How to Make Mochi

Although you can find mochi in every cafe or pastry store, we strongly recommend sparing a moment and making it yourself at home. It's easy to prepare and provides a lot of fun.
And most of all, nothing can beat the taste of your homemade dessert, be it mochi, chocolate cookies, or a cheesecake.
5 from 7 votes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dessert, Drinks
Cuisine Asian
Servings 4
Calories 143 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup of glutinous rice flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 cup of red bean paste or another sweet filling
  • 1 teaspoon of green tea powder optional

Instructions
 

  • Add rice flour, sugar, and water into a microwave-safe bowl. Mix until smooth. You can also add green tea powder to give your mochi dough that unique green color.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave it for around 2-3 minutes. Take it out and stir it with a wet spatula, then place it back in the microwave for another 3o seconds.
  • Dust your board or the parchment paper with cornstarch and transfer the dough onto it. Spring some more cornstarch on the dough and roll it into balls while it's still hot.
  • Flatten each ball and place a scoop of your favorite filling on top.
  • Pinch the dough over the filling until it's fully covered.
  • Continue until you use all the dough.
  • Finished? Then enjoy your mochi when it's fresh. You can also store mochi balls in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to two days, although it's better to put them in the freezer to prevent mochi from drying up.

Notes

Pro Tip: Be sure to use the correct type of rice flour. When making mochi, look for sweet rice flour. It can also be called sweet glutinous rice flour or glutinous rice flour.

Nutrition

Calories: 143kcal
Keyword How to make mochi
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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