あられ餅（霰餅) arare mochi.
Arare mochi are cubes of dried mochi of about 1 millimiter. So they look like graupels. Yes, you know graupels ? They are snow pellets. Arare means “snow pellets / graupels “. OK, I’m not sure what it is exactly, it’s a snow amount, bigger than a snow flake and smaller than an avalanche…
And that also the name of the arare rice crackers made with these cubes.
We can buy them, but I made mines from a block of mochi (see here).
When they are dry, you can fry them. That takes a few seconds till they triple of volume, then take color.
They are very crunchy. You can eat them like that, for the nice taste of fried rice. Or flavor them :
I’ve mixed hot chili (togarashi) and also mild paprika to moderate the fire. And a little salt. Just roll them in the spices.
Cut thin slices of mochi and let them dry in a room not too hot (it’s easy to find when you don’t heat your place in this season…). If you don’t see the difference :
Some are broken, they really look dryer. That took 3 days. That depends on weather. There are people that hang them outside, like these :
The oil was quite hot (180 degrees Celcius). After one minute, they change of color. Turn them. That takes 2 minutes.
On paper to absorb the excess of oil. That’s all !
Casual presentation : I’ve cut ribbons of nori seaweed and sprinkled salt. But you can stick the nori on the crackers. Another day, we’ll do that. Store them in a metal box. Unless you want to eat them…
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.
Baking chick pea and almond salty crackers. Why ? Because it’s good and :
: Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.
Chick pea cookies and crackers are usually made from chick pea flour (besan), but I don’t get it easily. I used soaked chick peas. I’ve added a little olive oil, salt, pepper, nutmeg.
The raw dough tasted good, but raw chick peas would give me… gas.
I pressed them like a tortilla and cut out when they were half-cooked.
I bake them and when they are half-hardened, I let them dry in the oven. I colored them in the oven-toaster.
The bits around are not lost. They feed the cook-photographer while writing the blog.
They are delicious nutty and crispy. They didn’t last long.
These are flavored, and not home-made.
I’ve looked for more information. They are made from pounded cooked sticky rice (this is the definition of mochi).Then they are shaped and dried. In cool weather (0 C to 14 C), mochi can be hung outside to dry under sunlight. That’s why they are called noshi mochi or kan mochi (寒餅 = cold weather mochi), well, I don’t get why the noshi reading… but many sources say it’s the reason.
The whites have bits of kombu seaweeds. The greens owe their color to a wild herb called yomogi (Japanese mugwort).
(source : wikipedia’s Japanese page for yomogi)
The browns contain kuzato, Japanese black sugar. The yellow are colored with turmeric, curcuma. There are other natural flavorings according to the label but we can’t tell which is has what.