Posted by on Feb 10, 2013 in Recipe | 0 comments

IMAG1000Happy Lunar New Year everyone~! I hope everyone made it through Nemo alright. I, personally, was thrilled to wake up and be greeted by 27 inches of snow…and miraculously still have power intact. I think our neighborhood is the most beautiful during the winter, especially when covered by snow.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Lunar New Year, today (2/10/13) is the first day of the first month of the year of the snake…according to the lunar calendar. [insert moment of enlightenment: “Oh, so that’s why it’s called Lunar New Year!”] There are fifteen days dedicated to rest and relaxation and celebrating the new year. Our family only really observes three of those fifteen days. Considering how the United States doesn’t recognize Lunar New Year as a holiday, celebrations here are nowhere as big as they are in Asia — but we make up for what’s missing in the streets in our own homes.

Traditionally, the eve (which doesn’t count as one of the fifteen) is spent with family in a big, celebratory, reunion dinner. Besides the good food, most children are more concerned with receiving red envelopes at the end of the night. The first day of the Lunar New Year is a time to honor one’s elders. The second day is when married daughters return to visit their birth parents. Since my grandpa has four children, my dad being the only son, I’m sure you can imagine how this becomes yet another big dinner. On the last day of the new year celebration, also known as the Lantern (yuan xiao “元宵”) Festival, we eat tangyuan — which roughly translates as “round [balls] in soup”. Although there are several legends as to why we eat tangyuan, our family sticks to the reason that it symbolizes the end and beginning of a new year, of how everything has come full circle and begins anew.

This brings me to today’s awesomely simple recipe! Tangyuan are very similar to mochi. It’s the soup version of mochi. Mochi is a traditional new years dessert which is basically a sweet rice cake, typically covered in sesame or sugared peanut powder or with filling inside. It’s almost always a big hit with the older folk. I have no idea why, but this particular gooey sweet hits a soft spot in their hearts. Since my grandpa loves all things red bean and is forever requesting some sort of red bean dessert (he’s also perennially asking why I don’t put red bean in my cheesecakes) I decided to make red bean mochi.  

But, being who I am, just regular red bean mochi wouldn’t be any fun. I wanted cute mochi…pastel mochi! 

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • ~ 16 oz adzuki beans
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Cook the adzuki beans until soft and tender, then mash them into a paste. 

In a separate pot, add the water and sugar and bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Mix the simple syrup and vegetable oil with the mashed red beans. This should give you a very mildly sweet paste. Add more sugar to taste.

Mochi Skin:

  • 1 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 drops green food coloring
  • 1/4 tsp matcha green tea
  • cornstarch

Note: You must use glutinous rice flour! Other types of flour just won’t work as a substitute. You can find glutinous rice flour at Asian supermarkets.

Although this is usually mixed and cooked over the stove, the mixture eventually gets so sticky and hard to stir that it may end up burning on the stove. So instead, I used the microwave. How handy is that?

Mix the glutinous rice flour, sugar, water, food coloring, and green tea.

IMAG1003

Stir well, we don’t want any powdering lumps. If you find that the mixture is too dry, add a little bit more water. If it’s too watery, add more flour. You should eventually get a smooth even dough that is sticky and solid to the touch.

IMAG1004

Lightly cover the bowl in plastic wrap and microwave for 2 minutes. The dough will come out looking slightly dry, but that’s fine.

IMAG1005

Mix it well again. This time it’ll be harder to mix as the center of the dough will be stiffer than the edges, but do your best to get it even. 

IMAG1006

Cover again and microwave for another minute. The dough should come out slightly puffy now. If it’s not, microwave for another minute.

Lightly dust your work space with cornstarch then scoop your warm dough (let it sit for a bit to cool if too hot) onto the cornstarch. Cover your hands in cornstarch and work the dough into a log.

IMAG1007

Cut the dough into smaller portions and roll into a ball between your hands before rolling the dough flat. The dough is easiest to work with while warm, but if your dough is cooling off and becoming more firm, just put your weight behind it and show it who’s boss by squishing it out nice and flat regardless.

IMAG1008

Scoop 1-2 tsp of the red bean filling onto the center of the dough. Try to shape it so it’s round.

IMAG1009

It took me a few tries of wrapping the mochi up differently before I finally figured out a super simple and effective method of making sealed, and round!, mochi. It may take a few experimental mochi before getting it just right, but once you have the hang of it, it’s quick.

Pinch the dough up and around the filling, almost like you’re wrapping wontons. You should have plenty of dough left over on top.

IMAG1010

Twist or pinch the extra dough off, this will seal the dough. Simply squish the extra dough with the rest and re-roll to make more. Your mochi may seem white and powdery due to the cornstarch, but this is perfectly fine and quite normal.

IMAG1012

These are best eaten fresh when they’re at their softest and chewiest. If you must store them, wrap them individually in plastic wrap or seal in an airtight container and leave at room temperature. They should last 1-2 days, though they won’t be nearly as soft and chewy as when freshly made. Do not place in the refrigerator unless you want to eat rock hard mochi! I assure you, rock hard mochi is not tasty!

If you want mochi but would rather skip the filling part, try rolling/tossing the portioned warm dough in a sugared peanut powder mixture (1/2 cup peanut powder, 1/8 cup sugar to taste). Don’t place it on cornstarch since then the dough will no longer be sticky. Instead, you can wear gloves and rub a bit of vegetable oil between your gloved hands before working with the dough. Or, the mochi is great all on its own (with cornstarch)! 

What kind of mochi do you plan on trying out?

~ AJ ~
Photographs taken and provided by AnnMarie Hwang

No Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to Make Green Tea MochiHow To Make Iced Green Tea - [...] Green Tea and Red Bean Mochi | Sisters’ Snacktime: Munchies for … [...]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *