Ooooh, brother! Is that not just a hungry-making picture? I know you probably know how to make mochi, but just to appease me since I've taken all these pictures, let's play like you don't even know what mochi is. Like you've been stranded on some mochi-less island your whole life & I'm gonna help you "see the light". Ready? OK, cool, here we go!!
Hi there! Man, you look hungry. Welcome to the wonderful world of mochi. Mochi is a "rice cake" made from glutenous rice that has been pounded to smithereens & dried out & cut into squares. What? You've never heard of it before? Well, right this way. Let me introduce you to the essential ingredients to one of the happiest-making winter snackies you'll ever enjoy. Not to mention a nifty way to pack in two bowls worth of rice in a few delicious bites. Don't be scared now, it's perfectly harmless.
We have here the ingredients you'll need:
Koi-shoyu (light shoyu, or normal shoyu is fine)
Brown Sugar (a must)
Kinako (Soybean powder)
Now there are two ways to make mochi: 1) boiling 2) Grilling! We of course like grilling because there is no happier sound than the sound of a teeth biting into a crispy, browned shell of mochi revealing a gooey goopy white inside. So line up those babies on your oven grill (all Japanese kitchens have this, I'm pretty sure) & fire it up full blasty blast.
Now, depending on how many people you're making this for you'd need to scale down or up. But lets assume that you're making about 12 pieces of mochi (for either a mob of hungry kids or one hungry sumo wrestler) Put 3 tbsp of mirin in a saucepan & put the flame on medium, bring it to a boil & simmer for about 1 minute, like so.
Now dump in 2 tbsp of sugar & 3 of shoyu, and bring that to a boil for about 1 minute or more. You're trying to thicken it up & evaporate some of the liquid off but don't overdo it or it'll be unbearably salty & ruin your whole mochi experience.
Ahh, ain't that a beauty. This is also a really basic version of Teriyaki sauce if you ever want a slapped together glaze for your Teriyaki chicken or Japanese hamburger. So keep aside any left over.
If you're like me, right about now is when you open the grill, scream hysterically at the sight of your flaming mochi & toss the black & charcoaled remains in the garbage to start again. Or of course if you're sensible & have been checking on it periodically it'll look like this & you'll squeal with joy at the vision of your bloated browning mochi puffs of joy! (I know, I might just be taking this all a little to seriously, but really, it's the simple joys of life!)
Turn them over & start'm on the other side. And if you're like me around now you'll start dancing around the kitchen singing that ridiculous song from Don Quixote, "I wanna be your mochi Man.....(mochi-mochi-man, mochi-mochi-man)"
Now we're gonna dip the grilled mochi into the sauce on both sides. (If you're feeling really Xtreme you could even dab a little butter on top, but don't tell anyone I told you!) Then you'll thank God that you're alive & that I've introduced you to the wonderful new world of mochi.
Personally, I really like wrapping the whole thing in either nori or fresh shiso leaf and putting a little extra sauce in the bowl for good measure!
Now for the kinako topping. Kinako is a powder made from soybeans so it got a nice nutty flavor. And all the great healthy macho-ness of soybeans so it's great added to shakes, ice-cream & other desserts. (Have you ever had kinako & peanut whip? Ooooh, baby!) Mix equal parts brown sugar & kinako.
Now snitch that massive kinako covered brown sugar ball there, yeah that one! Hey, just another perk of being the cook!
Now if you've grilled the mochi you'll want to dunk your mochi into a cup of warm water before rolling it in the kinako so it'll stick.
Be sure you give it a good toss as the water absorbs the kinako & if you don't really layer it on it'll be a bit bland! Oh, I can hear my sister screaming from here, eh, Elaina?
Man, that's just good looking! And that's the way we roll.
Oops of course, some ocha, oolong-cha or sokenbi-cha to wash it down.
NOTE: I didn't want to do this, but I don't want you to say I didn't warn you. If you honestly haven't eaten mochi before I must tell you what every self respecting Japanese mochi muncher knows & that is that a few old people & or kids die every new year from choking on mochi. I'm not sure why everyone keeps repeating this like it's some kind of "very real danger" but traditionally you must always talk about choking on mochi while you eat it. Supposedly it enhances the taste. :) And rumor is the only way to clear an esophagus from mochi is to take a vacuum cleaner to the poor victim. True or not, if you have fast eating kids you can always bring the point home by pulling out the vacuum cleaner every time they start eating mochi.