Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mochi filled with red bean paste.. possibly the most satisfying food I have ever eaten

One of my favorite things about going to visit my mother in law out in L.A. is the food. Not only is she a fabulous cook, but she regularly visits the variety of Asian markets that all seem to be just a short drive from her apartment.
We were there visiting her last month, she suggested we stop at the Japanese market nearby to pick up some food for lunch. I love to try new food, even if I don't know exactly what it is- and this market gave me ample opportunity. There were huge coolers stocked with fresh sushi and rice balls, plus various other fresh meals. There was a decent section of fresh produce, as well as rows of prepackaged crunchy snacks.
Best of all, there was a cooler with freshly made desserts- cakes, pastry, little balls of multi-colored goo that I couldn't identify. So, wanting to try something new, and being attracted to anything rainbow, I chose the goo.
The outer powder and dough is pleasantly sticky and chewy. The inside is pasty, sweet, red and d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. I immediately ate all four [large] dough balls, pausing only briefly to say things like 'best food ever' and 'so amazing'..etc. When they were gone, I had a stomachache, but I didn't care.
Since the closest (and only) Asian market back home is tiny, with a very limited fresh selection, I knew there would be no more mochi cakes for me... unless I learned how to make them. So I googled and researched, and what I came up with is below.
I'm actually pleasantly surprised at how well they came out, as well as how easy they were to make.
All ingredients can be found at Asian markets (even the little one near here)- as well as online, but be careful of high shipping costs.

Makes 8 small cakes
3/4 C Mochi flour
3/4 C water
1/2 C confectioner's sugar
a few drops of food coloring (this is totally optional, and you only need a drop or two- I chose blue, and they are BLUE)
about 1/2 C sweetened red bean paste (comes in a can- I froze the extra, I think it should hold up for a couple of weeks)
about 1/4 C cornstarch

Mix Mochi, water, sugar and food coloring in a microwave safe bowl until a sticky dough forms. If the dough forms a ball and completely pulls away from the bowl, add more water. It should be very sticky.
Put in the microwave for 2-3 mins. When you take it out, it should have formed a soft dough.
Set the dough aside to cool, open the can of beans, and dust the surface with cornstarch.

Pinch off a piece of the dough, coat with cornstarch and roll, roll, roll, until it's nice and flat. Place 1/2 T red bean paste in the middle and pinch the sides together around it.
Repeat until you're out of dough. The cakes can be stored, wrapped individually, in the fridge for a couple of days (if they last that long!)

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