Monday, January 14, 2008

101 Ways to Eat Sticky Rice Cakes

Okay, only three. Maybe more.

Take a pile of soft cooked, glutinous rice, pour it into a wooden mortar and pound the crap out of it with a mallet until you get a gooey, steaming mess. Form that into handful-sized balls and let it cool. There you have mochi.

An auspicious day is chosen right before the New Year and tons of the stuff is made and passed around among friends and relatives. It's also sold in stores and on street corners. Then for the next week or more, it's eaten at nearly every meal.

Let's see, you can cover it with sweetened red bean paste,

sprinkle it with kinako powder/soy flour,

eat it in a red bean soup or even with strawberries.

If you want a non-sweet version, there is ozoni, a soup with boiled radish, Chinese cabbage, other veggie goodies and a square of mochi dropped into the middle.

You can also grill it with cheese and a drop of soy sauce or stick a square into a bowl of udon noodles.

Here's an idea of how exceptionally elastic it is.

I had a American friend who described it as eaten molten lava.

I watched the movie Tampopo before I came to Japan and remember distinctly the scene with the old man who was so excited to eat mochi he inhaled it, choked, and had to have someone suck it out with a vaccuum. It was disturbing, funny and completely unreal; or so I thought. After I'd been here awhile, I learned that really happens. A lot.

This stuff is hot and gooey and very throat clogging if you don't chew it well. What really shocked me was that after the New Year's holidays our local newspaper keeps a running number of how many people have choked on mochi, who died and who was saved by a fast-thinking loved one with a vaccuum cleaner close by.


Hilary said...

That's disturbing, especially since the kidlets seem to go for it. Though it looks delicious in those photos.

Is it worth the risk? (That depends on how mochi you like it).

Mary Witzl said...

My children are crazy about mochi. We used to do mochi-tsuki at their school, and sometimes our local swimming pool had rice-pounding parties as well. My girls are particularly fond of kinako and adzuki and used to eat so much I felt quite embarrassed.

I used to teach esophageal surgeons and they talked about this problem. People who like to eat mochi when it is still very hot tend to develop esophageal cancer, I believe. And konnyaku, too, can be fatal if not chewed properly.

Ello said...

I love mochi! But I have never eaten it that hot. I guess because where I am, it only ever gets to me cold. Poor me! I adore hot things too. I'm sure it is better hot.

Kappa no He said...

Hilary: You know, I've never heard of a child choking. I think the parents are pretty good at watching them. It is fun to eat though. The homemade stuff isn't eaten too frequently. The mochi they sell year round is soft when it's cold so you don't hear about accidents usually.

Mary:That is absolutely fascinating about the connection between swallowing those big hunks of burning mochi/konyaku and esophaegal cancer. I'm not a konyaku fan at all.

Ello: I really love the taste of the homemade stuff. But I like cold as well. And the icecream that is wrapped in a thin skin of mochi, omg!

Jim Melvin said...


I tagged you to be part of a blogchain. If you're too busy to participate, no sweat! But please check it out here. (


Jim Melvin said...


Pat said...

I never heard of the stuff but your description is LOL funny! Kelly's wondering what I'm reading over here...

Kappa no He said...

Thank you Jim! You rock!

Pat: I wish I could make you some. It's quite an experience.

Virginia Lee said...

I'd try it, but Miss Mama wouldn't. I figure as long as it's not raw fish I can at least give it a go. And in general I like rice. That's my Louisiana roots. My grandpere used to have rice w/cream & sugar for his breakfast when he was young and occasionally when I knew him.

My question, dear Terrie, is do you cook with kudzu powder? I gather it helps make things gelatinous.

Kappa no He said...

My mom use to make that rice and cream and sugar breakfast for me. I adored it! Unfortunately, here, rice and sugar are a big no no. When I go home to visit I still have her make me some though.

OOoooo Virginia....!!! I have a kudzu blog all waiting to go. I need to do a little more research and take a few pictures. Just you wait!!

MDK said...


Simply Amazing! I'm gonna have to google that. Oh, maybe I shouldn't. I've just recently resorted to chewable vitamins, because I swallowed a big 'ol horse pill of a vitamin and thought I had inhaled it.

Still may give it a shot tho'.
Take care, Terrie