When I was walking through downtown Arashiyama around this time two years ago, I remember seeing many food carts and storefronts selling cubed up mochi dusted in matcha and kinako. I was surprise at how soft, light and jelly-like they were. The mochi I have known growing up has always been a bit denser and chewier. These mochis were labeled as warabimochi, and I thought it’s name described the way the mochi is prepared and served, but after some googling, I found this mochi is made with a different kind of flour!
Mochi is made by pounding cooked glutinous rice into a paste, or more simply, with glutinous rice flour. Warabimochi can be made with different kinds of flour, but the most popular being: potato starch, bracken starch and tapioca flour. These flour, when cooked are sticky (aka starchy) and jelly like which gives warabimochi its unique texture.
I had some tapioca flour on hand so I thought I would try making warabimochi. Making mochi is very easy in of itself, see my 5 Minute Microwave Mochi recipe, and it is very forgiving– I have made it in the microwave, on the stovetop, in the oven, in a steam basket as well as boiling it. I decided to opt for the stovetop method in making warabimochi since that gives me the most control.
I combined some flour, sugar and water and heated it on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring continuously. It took a while at first for the mixture to thicken, but when it starts, it thickens fast! I think it took less than five minutes to get to that perfect consistency. I then turned off the heat and continue beatting, mixing and stretching it until a cohesive dough ball forms. The mixture is pretty stretchy was and appearance and texture-wise, it is similar to mochi made with glutinous rice flour. After that, its just letting it cool slightly, rolling it in kinako, shaping, cutting and the best part– eating!
Mochi is very sticky so it is a must to roll it in a flour or powder of some sorts. From my experience, kinako aka soybean flour is probably the most popular flavor of mochi in Japan next to matcha. It is nutty and subtly sweet and powdery. If you have never tried it before, it’s similar to powder peanut butter. Not everyone enjoys the flavor, so here are some alternatives you can dust the mochi in.
- Corn Starch: takes away the stickiness of mochi without adding flavor
- Tapioca Flour: Similar to corn starch, takes away the stickiness without adding flavor
- Potato Starch: Similar to corn starch, takes away the stickiness without adding flavor
- Powder Sugar: this one is tempting, since it make sense tase-wise, but it is a bit tricky. The powder sugar is almost too light and it would sort of just melt into the mochi. I would suggest mixing it with some corn starch. If you do decide to use, just make sure that the mochi has completely cooled down first before rolling & dustng
- Black Sesame Powder
Looking for other mochi recipes? Check these out:
- Quick & Easy Microwave Mochi
- Brown Sugar Boba Mochi Bars
- Red Bean Mochi Bar
- Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Rice Cake)
Warabimochi with Tapioca Flour
- 50 g tapioca flour
- 40 g sugar
- 190 g water
- kinako (soybrean flour) or cornstarch or matcha powder
Kuromitsu syrup (Brown Sugar Syrup)
- 50 g dark brown sugar
- 50 g water
- Mix together all of the mochi ingredients in a pan and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously until and thick sticky and stretchy paste forms.
- Turn off the heat and keep beating, mixing and stretching the dough until it is evenly translucent and comes together in a dough.
- Dust a 5×5 or 6×6 container with kinako and transfer the mochi to the container. Roll it around so it is evenly covered and flatten it to fit the container. Let cool uncovered.
- While the mochi is cooling, make the Kuromitsu syrup. Combine sugar and water in a pan and heat on medium heat until the syrup is slightly thicker. Kuromitsu syrup is pretty thin– so think thin maple syrup.
- Once the mochi has cooled, transfer the mochi to a kinako dusted works surface. Cut the mochi into cubes and dust with more kinako. Serve with the Kuromitsu syrup on the side.