Wednesday, December 30, 2009

OMG a Recipe: Mochi Resolution

Is it too late to make a resolution for 2009? Because I'd like to resolve that I will make some sort of mochiko-related dessert before the 09 becomes 10. Call it nostalgia, a wistful hope for luck in the new year, or just plain hunger -- the Prime was feeling her Wasabi-roots and wanted to start the year off right with Mochi, a traditional rice cake that is served on New Year's Day.

Yes, it's pretty... and encased in plastic - Photo by Wasabi Prime

The Prime's family has never been sticklers for shogatsu (Japanese New Years) -- with parents who grew up in Hawaii, the Old World ways mixed with the new, and all that mattered was having enough firecrackers to turn the neighborhood into the DMZ and keep all fingers intact. Growing up in California, my parents and I used to gather at a family friends' home with many others and celebrate the Eve with food and drink. My grandparents were really the ones who observed the old customs like having a kadomatsu -- a bamboo and pine centerpiece that represents prosperity and longevity, while welcoming the harvest spirits. My paternal grandfather used to make ozoni, a savory, long-simmered broth, flavored with shoyu and occasionally butterfish, served on New Year's Day morning with a disc of plain mochi in it, to ensure a lucky year. Sadly, his recipe passed away with him, but the rites of food, loved ones, and the renewal of one's luck is a tradition worth hanging onto, and so we do what we can in our own home.

It's tricky to get a fresh kadomatsu, but we put out a kagami mochi -- decorated stacked rice cakes topped with a bitter orange or satsuma, preferably with the stem and leaf still attached. Thanks to the obsessive nature of Japan, I found a kagami mochi centerpiece at Uwajimaya -- it's real rice cakes, but they're hermetically sealed like King Tut. It's a bit silly to display this near-faux food item, but I'd like to believe it would make my grandparents happy to know a little of the past hasn't been forgotten.

To mix some new with the old, the Prime hangs a wreath decorated with different holiday ornaments from Hawaii and Japan that have been collected over the years. You're supposed to make sure the house is clean before the new year to ensure a fresh start, which I'm sure includes taking down all the Christmas decorations. This was done, save for the wreath and some lights, because I still insist on a bit of sparkle for the Eve. Sure, the wreath is a fake pine, but I'm fairly certain the wandering harvest kami would be down with that, as long as I make something mochi-licious!

Because this is a post of good mochi intentions, I hope to make either sweet mochi and/or this treat that I'd like to share the recipe for. It's from my mother's dessert files -- a creamy, sweet custard bar made with rice flour. It has a little of the sticky, gelatin-like mochi texture, but sweeter and probably more successful on palates unfamiliar with the traditional rice cakes. Whatever you do for New Years, I hope it's spent with loved ones and happy times. Kinga shinnen!

Wasabi Mom's Custard Mochi
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 cups milk (2% or higher)
4 whole eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups mochiko (rice flour)
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13 X 9 pan. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well blended. Pour into pan and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until center is firm. Cool and chill in refrigerator. Cut into squares -- my mom suggests using a plastic knife for easier cutting. Do as Mom says, she knows best.

New Years wishes from the Wasabi household - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Bookmark and Share


  1. the ozoni broth with butterfish sounds delicious. The mummified mochi looks beautiful:) I'm glad to see you still value Japanese traditions. Well at least you inspired me to clean up my condo before the New Year. Fresh Start here I come:)

  2. Always a special time to reflect on Auld Lang Syne - in whatever language fits the best. Here's wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous new year, Miss Prime.

    P.S. I want some custard!

  3. That is so gorgeous. It's great to keep up with the traditions with a modern twist. Happy New Year and have a wonderful and fantastic year ahead filled with joy, happiness and lots of adventures that you will never forget. Thanks for the friendship too.

  4. I want the ozoni broth with butterfish too! Sounds delicious.

    Happy new year, Wasabi Prime! Glad to have discovered your blog this year and I look forward to many more of your fabulous posts!

    Hungry Dog

  5. Awesome! Hubs and I are considering making mochi this year as well. I have to admit that I'm a little nervous but will probably give it a shot anyway... Beautiful post and I am LOVING the photos you are taking with your camera!

  6. Really want you to pass on some of your mad mochi skilz to me soon- not quite the same buying it at uwajimaya, right? Btw- Are these new lens shots? Photography almost awesomer than ever!

  7. Great photos! I think I'll have to try your mom's recipe out!
    Happy New Year! :)

  8. Beautiful photos and great post! Wishing you a very happy new year :)

  9. I love learning new things. Thanks for this interesting post.

  10. Wow this is a real fun! happy new year

  11. Thanks for sharing your mom's recipe! I love mochi of any kind, whether it be the Hawaiian version (which I think has coconut milk??) or the traditional Asian version which has no milk products at all. I bet this butter version is rich and delicious. I think I'm going to make some too!

  12. Is it alright if I use plain rice flour? Is there a difference between the mochiko and the plain one? Or is mochiko, rice flour...sorry to sound like a ditz but i would love to make this. Looks soo yummy!

  13. To answer qutins' question -- yeah, any rice flour is fine. A lot of stores sell the rice flour labeled as "mochiko" which just means the same thing. And really, you could make your own with just plain short grain rice and a food processor, since I think that's pretty much how rice flour is made?

  14. Hi hi! great recipe!

    for the mochi custard, what is the final texture supposed to be? The end result of mine was a delicious multi-layered square- the bottom was the chewy mochi texture and the top layer was more of a flan/custard texture. I halved the recipe and baked only for an hour. Is the whole square (top to bottom) supposed to be chewy?

    1. Yep, the whole thing is supposed to be soft and chewy -- and yes again, very much like a flan texture! It's not really like a typical bar cookie, I almost want to call it Silly Putty bars, as it's a bit gooey but it oddly holds its form!

  15. Great! I wasn't sure since I've had mochi cakes that were more solidly chewy from top to bottom. I love the flavor and the flan texture that rests above the chewy bottom :-). I thought maybe I had underbaked it at first. Thanks for sharing this yummy recipe!


Commentary encouraged. Fresh baked cookies, super-encouraged. (hit the 'post comment' button twice, sometimes it's buggy)