Let’s continue with the Chinese festivities for Lunar New Year, click here for many ideas).
Now, 芝麻球 , zhimaqiu, pearls with sesame. Hot, golden, crispy, and the inside sweet and melting. Everybody buys them it seems. But they are really quick and simple to make. Also you will know what they are made of.
The inside is boiled azuki beans mixed with sugar (here kurozato black sugar), mashed with a fork.
The dough is made of mochiko, and you can also use shiratamako, both are processed glutinous rice flour. You really need this ingredient, or an equivalent, and not ordinary rice floor. (read here about these rice flours)
Add enough lukewarm water to obtain a sort of playdo.
Then shape the balls and roll them in sesame seeds.
Then fry about 5~8 minutes in oil at about 160 degrees Celsius.
Freshly made. They have to be served hot.
They are not as perfectly round as those you buy, but you’d solve that as doing like they do at the stalls : taking them out of the freezer into the oil. They hold their shape… I don’t think that’s necessary.
So you have a crispy thin crust around, soft white dough and creamy filling.
Circles are 丸餅marumochi. Squares are 角餅kakumochi (rectangle board shaped mochi). In white, boiled mochi, in yellow grilled mochi (yakimochi).
These marumochi and kakumochi are made a while before New Year and sold still soft or a little dried. That’s 生餅namamochi (fresh, unprocessed), even if it can be kept months in modern packaging.
So that’s about Japanese tradition and regional variation. But you may wonder what is mochi ? Long story short :
Blocks of pounded cooked sticky rice.
How they make mochi (not me, people do, particularly strong men…) :
That I do, but… well, the result is a little different. I can’t be so violent in my little mortar. Well some Japanese families have the big stone mortar, but these days it’s mostly used to entertain the tourist at marketplaces and fairs. There are “home-bakery” machines that have a program to pound mochi, and they are popular. Well I buy my New Year mochi. Just for the fun, try it some day :
Most of the mochi are sold sealed plastic bags with a stuff to control humidity. You can keep them a while, but as soon as you open, expect them to dry (if let unpacked) or get molds (if you reclose the bag) within 3 to 7 days. So if possible open a pack for what you can eat soon.
Fresh mochi are sold unsealed, well, you have 3 to 7 days…
In case, you have leftovers, it’d better to let them dry (you can still cook them) than get mold (you’d have to throw away).
THE 2 WAYS OF COOKING MOCHI
To boil : place the mochi about 5 minutes in boiling or near boiling water or broth.
To grill : place the mochi about 5 minutes under the broiler/grill of your oven at 250 degree celcius. That can be done on a barbecue or brasero. As the mochi will become soft and nearly liquid, it would fall from a large net or a skewer, so place it either on a thin metallic net, or a metal plate.
Then eat your mochi :
-with a little soy sauce, with nori, with… your choice
-use it in recipes below
NB : You can grill or boil a piece of mochi not too big, that you could keep inside your hand. If it’s bigger, cut the big mochi with a knife.
Cut mochi is called and sold as 切り餅（きりもち）kirimochi.
That’s milk bread covered with that cracked crusty topping called Dutch crunch.
Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!
That was not an easy challenge for me… I had many failures (for the topping, not the bread). In the following days I will post about : black rice bread Arlequin sandwich
A roll with a layer of raw Dutch crunch.
Long story short : the “rice flours” we can buy easily in Japan (mochiko, joshinko, rice bread flour…) don’t work. The other starches don’t work and making your own rice flour…is not easy.
So I made with 2/3 of rice milled in my “stone” coffee mill plus 1/3 of mochiko (sticky rice flour to make mochi). And I followed the recipe in the bottom, adding yeast, sugar, salt and powdered malt extract.
Servings: This recipe should make sufficient topping for two 9×5 loaves (23cmx13cm) or 12 rolls. If you make only 6 rolls in the first soft white roll recipe, you can cut the topping recipe in half.
We’ve provided this recipe first because it is the mandatory aspect of the challenge. Note, however, that you should not prepare the topping until the bread you’ve selected to bake is almost finished rising (~15 minutes from baking).
2 tablespoons (2 packets) (30 ml) (15 gm/½ oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (105-115º F) (41-46°C)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (240 gm/8½ oz) rice flour (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour) (increase by 1 cup or more for home-made rice flour)
1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk; beat hard to combine. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing – spreadable, but not too runny. If you pull some up with your whisk, as shown below, it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.
2. Coat the top of each loaf or roll with a thick layer of topping. We tried coating it with a brush but it worked better just to use fingers or a spoon and kind of spread it around. You should err on the side of applying too much topping – a thin layer will not crack properly.
3. Let stand, uncovered, for any additional time your recipe recommends. With the Soft White Roll, you can place the rolls directly into the oven after applying the topping. With the Brown Rice Bread, the loaves should stand for 20 minutes with the topping before baking.
4. When baking, place pans on a rack in the center of the oven and bake your bread as you ordinarily would. The Dutch Cruch topping should crack and turn a nice golden-brown color.
You see the corner ? The yellow tail ? Yes, it’s cheese !
Happy Chinese New Year to all my readers !
These “niangao” (year cakes) are offered to the kitchen gods to get a good year of good food. Then I ate them, because the Chinese gods are so busy today that they need some help.
They are simply made of mochiko (sticky rice flour ) and sugar. And a little natural red coloring.
The white and red colors have the same meaning of “good luck” and are used for New Year all over Asia.
Chinese and Japanese New Year used to be at the same date before Japan adopted the European calendar in late 19th Century. Eating mochi is a tradition of both.
Decorated with red baby dragons. Let’s say they are dragons. The wings are fold.
There should be dry fruits or something in them. It’s prune today to match the plum pattern of the tea vessels.