Writer: Tamaki Kashiwagi

Want to eat even if you die? The Japanese love rice cake Mochi!

New Year is the biggest event of a year in Japan. In old days it was very precious thing to spend a year without sickness or injury, because medical care was not developed. Therefore, the ancient Japanese made and ate special foods to celebrate the New Year ‘s Day. One of New Year’s feast is a rice cake “Mochi”. Mochi is made from steamed Glutinous rice. To make Mochi, we knead the steamed rice well using pestle and mortar until the shape of rice grain disappears, and make it round or square shape.

Mochi_rice cake_New Year

Mochi making

Mochi is sticky and stretches long while it is hot. So Mochi has a meaning of “our lives stretch long, too!!”. There are many dishes of Mochi, for instance Mochi in a New Year’s special soup called “Ozoni”, Mochi with soy sauce and Nori (seaweed) and Mochi with Anko(sweet red bean paste),etc……

Ozoni_Mochi_New Year


However, Mochi is a bit dangerous food. Some people die by eating this. It doesn’t mean that it has poison like blowfish and some kind of mushrooms. Mochi is so sticky that it is hard to swallow it for especially elder people. Every year we can read the news article that says old man died suffocated by eating Mochi on the first issue day of new year. Yes, every year!  It is ironic to die by eating Mochi, the food for wishing longevity. But we still love Mochi!!


Make Mochi with food processor and microwave!

We, the Japanese expats want to eat Mochi on New Year’s day even if we are overseas!!  In the past, people made big amount of Mochi using so large pestle and mortar with neighbors. But now many people buy it at a supermarket. But we, the Japanese expats cannot buy Mochi, so we make it by ourselves using familiar kitchen equipment instead of pestle and mortar.

We can buy Glutinous rice in Chinatown in the world. But if you cannot find it, normal rice(Non-Glutinous rice) would be fine. Since normal rice is not so sticky that we add starch. I tried to add corn starch, potato and some other things. Finally I found that rice with Cassava starch(Tapioca) is the closest texture of Mochi.

Let me introduce a simple recipe to make it. First of all, soak rice overnight and drain it in colander. And put it into a food processor and make it powder. Then put the powder into a bowl. And add water and Cassava starch. Heat in a microwave for 2 or 3 minutes. And stir it well with a spatula. Finally wet your hands with water and make it into your favorite shape. We, the Japanese also eat Mochi with Kinako(soybean flour and sugar) often. Another topping is might be delicious, for example, almond poodle and sugar!
Oh, I never forget tell you this; Chew well when you eat this!



Non-Glutinous Rice           2cups

Cassava Starch(Tapioca)       2tsps

Water                        200ml

Toppings                     To Taste(Soy sauce, Nori, Anko,Kinako, Almond poodle)