8:48 AM EST
(Really Easy) Coconut-Cardamom Mochi
Mochi (餅) is simply a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice or mochiko, sweet rice flour. I don’t pretend to be an expert in Japanese cuisine so I’m not going to get into the various varieties (e.g., daifuku) of this subtly sweet dessert. I have also known about a very non-traditional short-cut method of making mochi using a microwave for quite some while now. I feel the results are superb. You don’t have to tell anyone you cheated; your secret is safe with me.
My recipe for Coconut-Cardamom Mochi is inspired by the Kashmiri nanny I had when my family lived in Kyoto, Japan (Bhinna, if you’re reading this, give me a call…it’s been too long!). As far as sweets are concerned this is one of the few tricks I have up my sleeve: my mochi is super simple to make and definitely unique. It also lends itself very well to variation (e.g., green tea, cocoa). どうぞめしあがれ!
• 1 cup coconut milk
• 1/2 cup water
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 ½ cups mochiko (sweet rice flour)
• 4 cardamom pods, seeds only, ground
• Cooking spray
• Microwave-proof baking dish(s)
• Plastic wrap
In a microwave-proof container (preferably a 4-cup or larger measuring cup) combine the coconut milk and water and heat for 2 minutes. The liquid should be no hotter than coffee/tea. Whisk in the sugar, mochiko and ground cardamom until no lumps remain but do not overmix. Spray your baking dish(s) with cooking spray and pour in the mochi mixture. Ideally the mochi mixture should end up being about an inch deep (the resulting mochi will be about an inch thick). In other words, prepare mochi as though you were preparing brownies.
Cover the baking dish(s) with plastic wrap allowing a little ventilation but ensure the wrap will not touch the surface of the mochi. Microwave in 2 minute intervals for a total of 8-10 minutes. Between each session check to see if the mochi has solidified. If the edges have begun to harden the mochi is done. Allow the mochi to stand until cool enough to handle. Cut into whimsical shapes (or, who are we kidding, cut into squares) with a plastic, ceramic or silicone knife (metal doesn’t seem to work well for this job) and get ready to coat…
• 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
• 1/4 cup powdered sugar
• 2 tablespoons potato starch (optional)*
• 1/4 teaspoon fine table salt (do not use coarse salt)
Combine the coconut, powdered sugar and salt in a bowl. Toss the cut, slightly tacky pieces of mochi into the coating mixture and let rest. Toss several times until the mixture adheres well to the mochi. I tend to store my cut mochi buried in the coating mixture. Whatever you do, DO NOT refrigerate the mochi - it will turn sticky.
*Potato starch (katakuriko) is a traditional Japanese ingredient used for coating mochi. It doesn’t have any flavor but keeps the mochi from becoming tacky. I realize you probably don’t have it just lying around; because this recipe uses both sugar and coconut flakes you can get away with omitting it.