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March 2008



Mochi Mania

From Karen Yoneda

Mochi appears in various forms around the New Year, lunar or otherwise, but in Hawai`i, we eat it all year round. It can be found everywhere, including in shops that specialize in mochi of different shapes and color, some too beautiful to eat (but we do anyway!) It’s an island favorite that we often take for omiyage, our tradition of gift-bringing when we visit family and friends.

Below are some recipes from Karen Yoneda for the home cook, mochi not as fancy but just as delicious as what we can find in specialty shops.

Traditionally mochi is a small, round, steamed rice cake signifying longevity, which the Japanese have used primarily in New Year festivities since the Heian Dynasty, 8th century.  The Chinese also celebrate the Lunar Year with their version, called “nian gao.”

Listed below is Mom's recipe for Nian Gao

1 lb. mochiko flour
1 lb. Chinese brown sugar
1 cup coconut (optional)
1 T. oil
ti leaves or banana leaves

Break up the Chinese brown sugar in about 2- 2 ½ cups water at low heat.  Cool. (Mother would melt and leave it overnight.)

Place mochiko flour in bowl and slowly add the brown sugar liquid.  Stir and stir until completely blended.  Add coconut.   Stir until mixture until it is "like pancake batter." Add 1 tablespoon oil and stir again.

Clean leaves and strip bone.  Dip in hot water, pat dry and line a 9x13” pan with leaves.  Spray with Pam or dab with some oil and spead mochi mixture in pan. Steam for 4 hours.  Cool. Add sesame seeds and dried red dates.

Another recipe is from Jo Wing, who was a classmate at UH, and now lives in Sacramento.
Microwave Gao (easy)

1 lb. mochiko flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups water
3 T. oil
toasted sesame seeds

Put all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add liquids slowly, stirring to make a thin batter.  Spray microwave muffin pan well with PAM.  Fill each cup 7/8 full with batter.  Microwave High for 4 minutes. ( varies with microwave)  Remove into a dish to cool. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Enjoy!  If leftovers have hardened after a day, simply reheat briefly in microwave.

Due to friends' popular demand, here is another recipe borrowed from the JACL Cookbook, given as gift from my sister, Nanette and family, who reside in Las Vegas.

1 pkg or box 16 oz. mochiko
1 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 -18 oz. can azuki (red beans)

Mix mochiko, milk, brown sugar, water, baking powder, salt and azuki together and blend well.  Pour into well greased 9 x 13 pan.  Bake in 350 oven for 45 minutes.  Cool , cut into 2 x1 pieces.  Enjoy!

Another recipe was provided by Dan Chun, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Honolulu, where we have attended services with my other sister, Sharon and her family. 



5 cups mochiko
2 cups brown sugar
1 can coconut milk ( I used fresh milk instead)
2 cans evaporated milk
1 tsp baking soda
1 -13 oz. can tsubushi-an (sweet bean paste)
sesame seeds

Mix all ingredients well and pour into 13 x 9 pan sprayed with Pam.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.  Bake for 50 minutes at 350º, turn off oven and sit for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool and cut  into pieces.

All these recipes are favorites in our household. My mother passed her recipe on to us and hopefully, future generations will carry on!

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