Mochi 101

What to do with a mochi ? That’s a post about “New Year mochi”, post 102 is in the lab for other types of mochi…

Well check the map to see where you are to see what laws apply to you :

mochi map
(source, go visit for more mochi science) It’s the Japanese Mochi Union it seems, so be nice to your mochi…

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…) :

Source with other videos… making mochi in Nagano with explanation in English.

DIY mochi :

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 :

cooking mochi rice
DIY mochi for ohagi

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).


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 :
-like that
-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.

zenzai (sweet soup with grilled mochi)
zenzai with boiled mochi
New Year soup O-zoni Kyoto style
o-zoni, colorful
O-zoni can be made with grilled mochi too.
nabe hot pot with boiled mochi

Modern mochi

You can cut dices of mochi and bake :

mochinammon bun

mochi pizza

You can cook mochi in a waffle-maker :

moffle recipe

You can grate mochi and roll a sweet in it :

Hari-nezumi, hedgehog

BUT Japanese people make their hedgehogs…well, close-looking sweets with another type of mochi. Some processed or dried mochi. See you in a “mochi 102” post.

Breaking the mirror mochi (via GiO)

Another episode of Japanese New Year traditions…

On New Year, you’ve seen I had this decoration. This white pile with a plastic orange on top is the kagami mochi (mirror mochi). But that was a fake plastic one, you can see real mochi on the side. They were hidden inside…

Read more.

Breaking the mirror mochi

On New Year, you’ve seen I had this decoration. This white pile with a plastic orange on top is the kagami mochi (mirror mochi). But that was a fake plastic one, you can see real mochi on the side. They were hidden inside.

I replaced the false orange. Some people use real mochi :

(photo found on google)

What I call “real mochi” is cooked sticky rice, pounded into a paste, and let dry. It becomes solid blocks. More here :
mochi 101

For “soft sweets” with mochi see daifuku mochi here :
Wagashi Saga : Photo-menu of all Japanese sweet posts.

The reason for using a *fake* is not the price. It’s because the fresh mochi dries and becomes flaky. So many people prefer as ornament objects in shape of mochi (you can find plastic, wood, fabric…).
Anyway the kagami towers are displayed as New Year decoration until today. Then, the mochi is broken (or taken out of the plastic) and eaten. Cool !
Well, I had no idea. Mines have been eaten on January 1st.

So I bought more mochi, cut in rectangles. It’s kiri mochi.

5 minutes under the broiler : it becomes soft, it inflates, it get roasted. It’s yaki mochi, roast mochi. It can be seasoned with savory or sweet things.

With zenzai.
It’s sweet azuki bean soup. I put in the blender cooked azuki beans, their broth, a little water, sweetener (lakanto). I reheated slowly. It can be completed with yaki mochi or boiled mochi.

another version of zenzai