From the story Mochi by the Bay

Story and photos by Kaori Becker

My mom and I use this easy recipe when we’re in a time crunch, but we also love how quickly it delivers white mochi, a perfect canvas for a variety of sweet fillings, including anko, chocolate, and fresh fruit. Watch our mochi-making tutorials at kaoriskitchen.com/mochimakingvideo.

Makes 10 pieces

1 cup mochiko flour
½ cup sugar
1¼ cups water
Cornstarch or potato starch for dusting
Optional flavorings: 1 teaspoon rosewater, vanilla, or matcha powder
Optional colorings: For green colored mochi, use 1 teaspoon matcha powder. For pink, use 2 drops liquid red food coloring or ½ teaspoon beet powder.

Traditional fillings

Anko (sweet red bean paste, find at Asian grocery stores)
Anko plus a thick slice of fresh strawberry
Non-traditional fillings:
Nutella (chill ahead in the fridge to make it easy to scoop)
Nutella plus a slice of fresh strawberry
Peanut butter (scoop and freeze balls of filling in advance)
Blueberry or mango with anko
Cream cheese flavored with sugar and matcha and/or other flavoring of choice

Combine mochiko flour and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Whisk in water along with any desired flavoring and/or coloring. (I often add additional water to the dough because the microwave tends to dehydrate it.) Keep whisking until there are no dry lumps in the dough. Thorough mixing is important so dough will heat properly in the microwave.

Microwave dough, uncovered, on high for 3 minutes (or 5 minutes if making a double batch). Remove from oven.

1 Dip a spatula in water and use it to mix dough until it is sticky, thick, uniform in color, and slightly translucent. Microwave on high for another 2 minutes (or 4 minutes if making a double batch), then remove from the oven and stir again.

2 Spread a thick layer of cornstarch over a cutting board. Pour microwaved mochi dough onto the cornstarch and let cool for 5 minutes.

3 Generously dust your hands with cornstarch to prevent the mochi from sticking to your fingers. (You might want to use food-handling gloves.)

4 When dough is cool enough to handle, fold and roll the dough over on itself to make a fat log shape. Keep dusting and rubbing the log with cornstarch as you gently roll it into an even and slightly elongated shape.

5 With a knife or fingers, cut or pinch off golf ball–size pieces from the log, dusting cut edges with cornstarch. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand into a ½-inch-thick disc.

6-8 Place 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each disc. Then gently stretch and wrap the mochi dough up around the filling to completely enclose it.

9 Pinch the dough together at the top to seal in the filling.

10 Flip the mochi over and shape into a sphere.

11 Brush off excess starch and the mochi are now ready to serve. Enjoy!

12 Yukiko and Kaori invite you to visit kaoriskitchen.com for more mochi recipes and to learn about their mochi, ramen, udon, and sushi classes.

Food journalist and business coach Kaori Becker is author of the upcoming book, Let Your Passion Pay the Bills. She teaches cooking classes at Kaori’s Kitchen, her home-based classroom in San Leandro. kaoriskitchen.com