A favourite treat around my household is a sweet rice cake known as Korean Chapssalddeok or Japanese Mochi. It’s texture is soft, silken and slightly gooey (in a good sort of way). Traditionally it would have taken many hours to make as it required steaming and pounding of rice, cooking and mashing of red beans or lotus root. In today’s kitchen it can be prepared in under an hour. All you need is some fine sweet rice flour and a microwave. These tender morsels are vegan and gluten-free. The rice flour is sometimes called glutinous, but that only refers to its stickiness. It does not contain gluten.
The little round cakes have steamed rice dough on the outside and usually a sweet bean paste in the interior. Because we are in the throws of winter in this hemisphere, I’ve decided to use Masala Chai tea (without milk) in place of the water to give a gentle spice flavour to the dough. The filling is marzipan, a sweetened almond paste.
- Makes about 14 (if 1 inch round)
- 1 C sweet rice flour – sometimes called Mochiko powder or glutinous (non-gluten) rice flour
- 1 Tbs sugar
- ¾C water or infused tea
Place the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, leaving an opening slit of ½ inch on edge. Put the bowl in the microwave for 2 – 2½ minutes on high, depending on the strength of your microwave (it’s possible that you will need another ½ minute). The steamed dough should be gooey and have some resistance but shouldn’t be really hard to stir. Remove the bowl from the microwave, being careful of the steam.
The Hardest Part
Stir (actually it’s more like stretching) the mixture 100 times. That’s right – 100 times! This works the dough to bring out the springy, silky texture characteristic of rice cakes. (Hint – I think you could cut the stirring in half). After the stirring is finished turn the dough from the bowl onto a rice flour covered surface. Turning the dough onto the counter is the hardest part of the process. You need to use considerable force to coax it out of the bowl. Remember I mentioned it’s gooey!
Pat or roll the rice mixture to about ¾ inch thick. Divide it into approximately 14 pieces depending on the size of mochi you prefer. I like mine to be about 1 inch in diameter. Shape the marzipan into ½ inch rounds. Spread a piece of the rice dough around each marzipan ball. Shape and seal the edges. The dough is malleable enough that you can do this easily. Roll the cakes in rice flour.
They are best eaten right away while they still have a slight warmth. They will keep for a day or so in the fridge if they are tightly covered in some sort of wrap, but they will become more solid and less silken. This batch was delicious. The Masala Chai flavour really came through and the marzipan centres added an almondy sweetness that complimented the Chai.
- Here’s an amusing and informative video from Maangchi (I left out the salt)
- I like to warm the dry Masala Chai mixture in a cooking pot on medium heat to activate the spices.
- Use a paddle similar to the one in the video if you can find it because it will make scraping of the bowl easier.
- Keep your hands wet when handling the dough
- Clean up is messy. You may need to soak the prep bowl overnight.
- Try other infusions, like Earl Grey, Ginger Green, etc. Matcha sweet mochi is traditional.
- Practice, practice, practice! It gets easier each time you make it.
Please share your favourite sweet mochi recipes!