Did you know that brown rice melts? And puffs up? And oozes into delicious dumplings?
My first introduction to mochi is etched in my mind. Sitting around a table with my fellow culinary students at the Natural Gourmet Institute, where I attended classes almost 10 years ago, my teacher brought out a huge bowl filled with cooked brown rice and a wooden mallet that looked like a baseball bat. We took turns pounding the rice until it became sticky and totally mashed.
This is mochi, said our fearless teacher, who then told us of its Japanese origins and uses.
This whole food is so simple and does such magical things when treated the right way. People often furrow their brows when I begin to share my love for mochi, because they can’t quite believe that brown rice can do what it does until they see it for themselves.
Found in health food store refrigerators in hard, thin bricks, mochi can be cut into thin strips and laid on a hot waffle iron to make puffy, whole grain waffles in minutes. Grainaissance is the most common brand found in the U.S., and they make several flavors including sesame-garlic, cinnamon raisin, and “pizza.”
Another mysterious property of mochi is that it actually melts. Cut the brick up into squares, bake for 10 minutes, and the brown rice puffs up into chewy, almost-cheese-like pastries. When it is cooked, it goes golden and crispy on the outside and gorgeously gooey on the inside.
A naturally gluten-free food, mochi can easily be added to your diet as a simple breakfast with a dab of nut butter and jam, or as a treat for after school or work. Used as an energy tonic and blood-builder, mochi is used to support pregnant and lactating women as well.
Eden Foods also sells mochi and has a delicious recipe on their site for quick miso soup with mochi dumplings….mmmmmm…dumplings.