15 February, 2007

Italian Breakfast mochi

I've eaten mochi before at New Years, either fresh with sweet bean paste inside as a snack, or in miso soup and o-zoni, the traditional New Year's soup made a little differently in each prefecture, and maybe even each family, in Japan. I always liked it pretty well, but I wasn't jumping up and down, since it's pretty pasty and chewy when it's wet. But today I finally tried toasted mochi, prompted by an end of season sale at my local Anew organic grocery. Mind you they weren't cheap, at 1260 a package, reduced by only 3 per cent. But now I'm thinking I will buy another if they're still there next week, because toasted they are delicious. They puff up like like little balloons and the outside turns crispy with the taste of toasted rice while the inside is nicely chewy, resembling a chewy pizza crust, or maybe a cooked pizza with chewy cheese. Now the young woman who speaks English and helps me with ingredients translation at the store recommends putting on cheese or soy sauce. I can't eat cheese, because of a milk allergy, but think it sounds great for those of you who can, and soy sauce just doesn't hit the spot for me for breakfast, so this morning I invented a topping that would probably have them crying foul in the "traditional tastes of Japan camp" but I thought it was just great. I predict it will just be the first of many experiments with mochi, though, since I got a big package.

Italian Breakfast Mochi:

Take about two smallish mochi and put them in the toaster oven on the rack. You can eat more but you might puff up like a balloon, too; they're very calorie dense. Watch them and turn them over a few times as they start to soften up. This is not strictly necessary but it seems to help if you are anxious to get them done and fidgity. When they soften up enough and have puffed up like kids with 20 sticks of gum in their cheeks, probably about 10 minutes, take then out and try to cut, stretch, and pull them open in the middle, so they are a bit "butterflied". Then put them back in for a further 5 minutes of so until you think they look okay. Put them on a plate and sprinkle with a bit of fresh ground black pepper, salt, and the best extra virgin olive oil you can muster. Eat while they are still warm for a chewy and wonderful breakfast or snack. A good cup of deep dark coffee would go down great with these. Maybe next time I'll add a little garlic.

I know I'm probably the last person in Japan to try toasted mochi, so if you have a favourite way to eat them please leave a comment. And let me know how you like these if you can still get hold of mochi. I think the season is almost over.


6810 said...

Hey, although cheap mochi might might be getting scarce (tis the season) you can buy mochi all year round at fairly cheap prices.

Just depends on where you buy and the quantity. As in most cases the more you buy, the cheaper in the long term.

Problem is, as you say, mochi are calorie dense and it doesn't take more than two usually to fill me up. A big bag of mochi is a serious committment!

Recipe wise, mochi in place of gnocchi is a cool non-wheat substitute for gluten intolerant people. Just heat/toast it up in the toaster and cut into small sections just before your tomato (or other sauce) is ready!

Don't forget to get down to the healthfood store to try out millet, barley and other grain mochi!

vegetablej said...

That big bag(around 20 smallish ones) might not be so hard to eat as you think. I've fallen in love with it as a substitute for the bread I can't have.

When the mochi are toasted crisp and opened up you get a pocket similar to pita, though smaller. So this week I made a flavourful yellow dal and used the mochi to scoop it up. It was really good.

For another meal, I made a quick chili using packs of cooked beans from Anew organic store -- one each of the red beans and the cream coloured, maybe soy, beans. They are Non-GMO too. Then I used the toasted mochi as a dipper, a bit like a biscuit. Also really good.

I think the idea about using them as a pasta substitute sounds good too. I'll give it a try. I haven't seen millet mochi. Any idea what "millet" is in Japanese?

Winnie said...

I'm a big mochi fan too, but I really recomment brown rice mochi. It has much more flavor. I think Owasa brand makes one that is available at some health food stores in Japan. By the way, millet is called kibi (黍〕in Japanese. I guess this is out for you if you're allergic to milk, but cream cheese goes great with toasted brown rice mochi.

vegetablej said...

Hi Winnie:

Thanks for your suggestion. I totally agree about brown rice mochi. I discovered it at my local Anew health food store a few months back. It's great toasted and then stuffed with whatever sandwich-y fillings I have around. Good with dal inside too. Thanks for the millet kanji. I'll keep a lookout for it on food packages. :)

Anonymous said...

My fiance is Japanese and he eats his mochi toasted with a sauce of whisked shoyu and brown sugar. I eat it toasted with honey and sometimes a bit of butter.
A local izakaiya makes a dish with agedofu topped with mochi then ginger and katsuboshi and a shoyu sauce that is a little bit thick, it is my favorite dish there.

b.grim said...

I've long been a fan of mochi waffles. Just put thin squares of mochi on the hot waffle iron and cook it; it all melts together into a little, crispy, very delicious waffle. It's hard not to eat too many of these!
Our local natural food store carries flavored mochis made by Grainaissance. http://www.grainaissance.com/index.html
My latest mochi fave is to toast the cinnamon-raisin flavored mochi, then top it with cashew-maple creme (whiz cashews in mini-blender until fine, drizzle in maple syrup & vanilla, blend with just enough water to make the consistency you'd like). Wow...these are like eating cinnamon rolls! The cashew creme is also good with cocoa powder blended in; fudge sauce!