Saturday, June 12, 2010

Random Weekend Picture 16

Describing mochi to people always feels inadequate when I do so in English. Calling it "rice cake" makes people visualize things like the Styrofoam health food discs that are sold to people trying to lose weight. Most mochi in Japan is processed in factories because making it is very labor intensive. Occasionally, people will get together and make it fresh for festivals. This picture was taken at one such festival. They're beating rice to a taffy-like consistency. This is the basis of all of the mochi snacks that I review, though obviously none of the mochi used in those foods is hand-made. My guess is that only premium mochi or that which is made for special occasions is hand-made.

One of my students told me her family buys fresh mochi (like that made by hand in the picture above) for their New Year's "kagami mochi" (traditional New Year's decoration). I asked her if it tasted better than the mass-produced stuff and she said she didn't like it. Of course, one of the reasons she wasn't keen on it was that it had the tendency to crack and get moldy as it sat around as a decoration until New Year's day. She said her mother had to cut out the moldy bits before they could eat it. It didn't really inspire me to seek out fresh mochi for my future kagami mochi needs.


Sherry said...

Actually fresh soft mochi is great, especially if you like it with sweet bean paste and kinoko powder. It's the only way I'll eat it. But you do have to eat it quickly or it gets moldy. It also gets hard after a couple of days and so no better than the dried packaged kind. You can put it in the fridge to keep from molding, but it gets hard on a few hours.

Anonymous said...

I've just recently tried sesame seed mochi, and they were really good! I'm from Norway and we're not used to these types of sweets, so it was a positive experience :)

Orchid64 said...

Hi, Sherry, and mystchyan.

Thanks for the information on fresh mochi, Sherry!

Mystchan, there are some pretty incredible mochi snacks out there. I've had a lot of really great ones. In Japan, you can get all sorts of manju with different filling as well as ice cream made with mochi that are delicious. I hope you have a chance to try many of them!

Jen in Japan said...

I've had freshly made mochi before and even got to help make it at a festival. It was fun swinging the hammer but I don't like eating it. It's too chewy. I prefer manju.