Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sticky brown rice mochi recipe testing



a short-grained, sweet, glutinous rice cake with a high starch content, used in Japanese cooking. 

While mochi appears to have been been mainstreamed as a delectable pastel ice cream treat to be had at a sushi restaurant, as a foodway it is actually widespread in Asia with different vocabulary natch, as a sweet morsel filled with beans or seeds and usually connected with traditional celebrations.  Mochi is made from glutinous or sticky rice and symbolizes "good times" in a nutshell.  My MIL makes chè trôi nước--a sweet mung bean stuffed mochi served in ginger syrup for birthdays.  That's party mochi; I have in mind a plain, everyday, savory mochi.

One of my all-time favorite snacks is bánh dầy chả lụa--little rice cakes shaped as the sky according to Viet legend brushed in oil and sandwiched around steamed silky pork sausage and wrapped in banana leaves.  Whenever we were near a Viet deli/bakery, I always grabbed 1-2 for the road.  Since I've stopped eating MSG, I've stopped eating at Vietnamese food places, because inevitably there is MSG in everything especially chả lụa.  I haven't taken my MIL's offer up to teach me how to make chả lụa yet.  Though with a quarter hog in my freezer, I think I ought to calendar that in.

So I was a kid's birthday party this weekend that had the traditional Korean tteok | mochi which was made with brown sticky rice and coated with brown rice powder, some with a sweet sesame seed center.  And I happily ate like a half-dozen after reading the ingredients and making an allowance for sugar (in any case, this was tuned to Asian tastebuds and was not very sweet at all).  My daughter VL got a few too since she couldn't partake of birthday cake.  We took some of the leftovers home and it struck me that it would make a great lunch for VL for school especially since she starts extended kindergarten hours next week.  I scoured the internet which had lots of white sticky rice recipes. lots of traditionally-made-by-pounding recipes, and surprisingly, a lot of microwave recipes.  I finally found this wholesome, macrobiotic brown rice mochi recipe by Jill Ettinger (Organic Authority) which is food processed, steamed, and baked.

So, embarking on my maiden voyage into mochi making.  Here are my testing notes & tweaks. 

Soak the dry rice in water for several hours or overnight. Drain off excess water.
Captain's log.  Stardate 22.10.2013.  I soaked the organic sweet brown rice that I sourced from Azure Standard overnight in my sprout jar.  I think I'll try sprouting the sticky rice grains at some point to maximize the nutrient content (remove phytic acid & arsenic contamination), but this requires planning 2-3 days in advance...

In a strong food processor or blender, process the rice until it makes a smooth, creamy paste.
Mochi dough
Maybe my Kitchenaid is not high powered enough or I drained the rice of too much water or the recipe forgot water.  All I got was crumbly.  So I slowly added 2 tbs of water and it promptly balled up and was more doughlike than paste.  Then I had to take a break and go pick up my daughter from school.  When I came back, I remembered the salt (which is a forgotten step on the recipe) and added it and it all crumbled apart again (probably the water was absorbed into the rice and it dried out).  So I added another 2 tbs of water to get it to ball up.  I suppose I could have added more water to get it to paste consistency, but I liked the easier removal and clean up of the dough.  Sticky rice paste on blades is a P.I.T.A.  But thick dough means a denser mochi so I may try more water next time to achieve a looser consistency and allow the dough time to rest and soak up the moisture.  I'll have to experiment more and see...
Pour the mixture into a bowl or small pot you can steam with in a double boiler (you can also use a pressure cooker for about ten minutes). The rice should steam about 30 minutes or until the mixture gets glutinous and sticky. It should also appear somewhat glossy.
Steamed mochi dough
I started the water boiling in my pressure cooker with the rack and steamer tray inside while I scraped (not poured) the dough and crumbs into a round pyrex container powder-coated with generous amounts of tapioca starch.  To smooth it out, I lightly dusted my hands and the dough with starch to prevent sticking. The starching is where Jill's mochi recipe departs from bánh giầy which is formed into balls, oiled, and steamed on little individual squares of oiled banana leaves.

I set the pyrex in the pressure cooker which was boiling by this time and steamed for 10 minutes.  When the timer went off, I released the steam and voila.  I love my pressure cooker!  Mochi in 20 minutes from grinding to steaming.  The mochi is ready to eat at this point IMO with powdering or oiling.
On a tray dusted with the starch, pour the hot mochi mixture as evenly as possible, about ½ inch in thickness. Let cool before putting in the refrigerator for at least two hours. If you want to make round mochi, you'll need to work with the very sticky dough to form the balls, which is time consuming and worth mentioning again: very sticky.
Mochi ready to bake
This is an extra step compared to bánh giầy, but I decided to give it a go and see what happens.  I heated up my oven and since there was a pizza stone inside it from our recent pizza night with Pamela's GF mix (found at a steal $2 at GrocOut), I decided to bake on it with parchment paper rather then swap out.  I moved the dough over to a powdered 7.5 x 5.5 " pyrex container.  It's an extra step and extra dish to wash, but the round pyrex ends up moistened from the steam and not useful for this next task since I wanted even squares.  I  coated a butter knife with starch to make the cutting easier.  Then lifted the squares out and baked them on the aforementioned pizza stone & parchment paper

Puffed up baked mochi!
Mochi "beignet"!
The extra application of dry heat makes the mochi puff up and the outside crisp.  They resembled nothing so much as mochi beignets though the taste is gooey rice goodness!

We didn't have anything but deli roast beef on hand so that's how we did.  We found the mochi a bit too plain so I'm tweaked my amounts to up the gray sea salt (since it is milder than table salt).

I'll work on a  modified bánh dầy recipe forthcoming...

Ăn Ngon Lành|Eat Delectably!

Baked mochi ready to eat
This little piggy had baked mochi & roast beef.  Nyum!

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I'd love to hear from you! How did yours turn out? Comment below or email me realfoodrealpho @ gmail.com.