A centuries old Japanese tradition is the eating of mochi on New Year. It usually starts around the new year when Japanese households and communities take part in a traditional Mochitsuki the pounding of sweet rice to make the flour. The flour is used to make mochi which can be a sweet or savory treat.
In Hawaii mochi is definitely served on New Year specially by families of Japanese ancestry. I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited by friends whose families practice this tradition. I’ve had mochi as dumplings in a fish based soup, not exactly my favorite; fried and served with soy sauce; and sweet chewy squares, my favorite.
Mochi is also always available in Hawaii. It’s found in many local grocery stores and some bakeries. But most of the time I make Mochi at home. One of my favorites is Chi Chi Dango, it’s a sweet square made with coconut milk and is usually pink in color. Another favorite is this Tri-Colored mochi, which is really just a layered Chi Chi Dango in 3 colors, green, pink, and white. I don’t make it often simply because it’s tedious baking 3 layers, the single color version is just as good. But Tri-Colored Mochi does look pretty when served at a party.
By the way Mochi is made from glutinous rice flour and is naturally gluten free and since it uses coconut milk it’s also dairy free! It’s the perfect treat for any one with gluten, dairy, and nut allergies.
You can buy both Mochi flour (one of the brand names is Mochiko), canned coconut milk, and Katakoriko at any Asian market.
1 Box Mochiko flour (1 pound)
2 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Can Coconut Milk
3/4 Cup Water
1 Tsp. Vanilla
2 – 3 drops each of red and green food color
Katakoriku (potato starch)
Pre-heat Oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.
Mix all ingredients except the Katakoriku in a bowl until smooth.
Divide batter into 3 equal parts. (I pour them 1 measuring cups)
Color one part pink with red food color, and one part green with green food color, leave third part white.
Pour Green part into your pan and cover with foil.
Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven. Uncover and cool for 15 minutes.
Pour white batter over green layer and cover with foil.
Bake for 20 minutes and remove from oven. Uncover and cool for 15 minutes.
Pour pink batter over white layer and cover with foil.
Bake for 30 minutes and remove from oven.
Uncover and cool for at least 30 minutes.
Cut into squares – I use a pizza wheel to cut even strips then cut those strips into small rectangles.
Place Katakoriku on a plate and roll each piece of mochi in it. This will dust the mochi so that they don’t stick together.
Store in airtight containers on the counter. It should last about 3 days, that is if you can keep from eating it sooner!