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Making Mochi with Grandma

Well folks, I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve last posted. Over a week… That’s pretty bad.

But y’know, with the heat, loss of wisdom teeth, and lack of excitement in my life, it’s been difficult to find the motivation to blog.

Or it was, until yesterday when my grandma pulled out a bag of rice.

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Well, what’s so special about that? I’m Korean. I eat rice everyday. There ain’t nothin’ special about a bag o’ rice.

Or so you might think. But not all rice is created equal!

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Notice how these rice grains are especially stubby? They’re shorter than basmati (long-grain) or even arborio (short-grain aka Asian rice). Little white nubbins of carbohydrates, they are.

See, this is a pile of glutinous rice – the stickiest of all sticky rice. All rice contains 2 kinds of starch: amylose and amylopectin. The higher the amount of amylopectin, the stickier the rice. And glutinous rice is almost all amylopectin with very little amounts of amylose. So that means…. SUPER STICKYRICE PERFECT FOR MAKING DDUK/MOCHI.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before you can do any mochi-making of any sort, you have to make sure your rice is squeaky clean.

 

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And if you want to cook the rice properly, you have to soak it in water for 5-6 hours.

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But don’t worry about being bored during the long wait; you can just use that time to make the mochi filling!

So while the rice was sitting around, my grandma started cooking about 2 cups of red adzuki beans.

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I’ve read that when you cook beans, you should add water in a 2:1 water-to-beans ratio, bringing the whole thing to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. But my grandma said that in order to cook aduki beans properly, you have to add equal amounts of beans and water, wait for it to boil, then add cold water, wait for it boil again, add cold water again… It’s a tedious process because you’ve always got to keep an eye on the pot, but my grandma says this is the best (and the only way) to cook this kind of bean.

Once the beans were cooked and tender, my grandma started mashing them with a wooden spoon.

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And added a little bit of sugar to sweeten it to taste.

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Notice how the beans aren’t completely smooth; chunky texture = yummy texture! Feel free to leave some beans only partially smashed.

So once the anko (sweetened red bean paste) was made, my grandma left it on the counter to cool… BECAUSE IT WAS TIME TO MAKE THE DDUK!

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My grandma rinsed the rice, leaving the little guys to drain in a mesh colander.

Meanwhile, my mom took out our rice cake-making machine:

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What this fancy gizmo does is cook the rice, then pound them into a delicious mound of sticky rice cake.

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We added water to the bottom of the machine…

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Inserted the bowl and paddle…

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And added in the rice.

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Then all we had to was press the button and wait for our rice to cook!

The machine takes almost an hour to pound the grains of rice in to submission, so while that was going on, I helped my grandma make the anko balls we were going to put inside the mochi.

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You scoop a palmful of smashed red bean into your hand, and use a rolling/patting motion to form spheres of sweet deliciousness.

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Once we had molded all the aduki beans, my grandma covered them with a plastic bowl so they wouldn’t dry out.

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By this time, the dduk machine had finished cooking the rice and was well on its way to making them into rice cakes.

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The rice starts out looking like any ol’ pile of cooked rice, but then the machine starts spinning and churning it until…

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It gradually forms….

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A ball of finished dduk.

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super soft and sticky straight out of the machine

Since the dduk is really sticky when it’s warm, my grandma, my sister and I had prepped our respective mochi-making stations for the fastest and most efficient anko-wrapping.

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Cornstarch for dusting.

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And Saran wrap for, well, wrapping.

My grandma donned plastic gloves, which she had rubbed with a drop of sesame oil for minimal dduk stickage. She handled most of the dduk, flattening out small handfuls and wrapping it around the balls of anko.

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flatten!

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insert!

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pinch!

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seal!

Once the anko balls were well-enveloped in a soft pillow of mochi, she placed them on the tray of cornstarch.

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snowball-ish

Covering the mochi in cornstarch REALLY helps counter the stickiness; I rolled the finished mochi in the cornstarch a couple times, then dusted them off and plopped them on a square of Saran wrap.

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If you’re not going to eat the mochi-dduk right away, it’s important to wrap them like this; it helps preserve their soft chewiness.

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We ended up making an army of dduk… Most of which was wrapped and placed into an airtight container for the freezer.

But of course, we had to try some of the fruits of our labor.

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Freshly pounded, homemade mochi is nothing like the stuff you get in the store. They’re so pillowy and soft,  with a fresh chewiness that makes them ridiculously addicting. And because we made the red bean filling, it wasn’t overly sweet, instead having a slightly crumbliness that’s different from the red bean paste you get in factory-made mochi.

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Yumm…

Of course, you don’t HAVE to make your dduk into mochi balls. They’re also really good when they’re rolled them into flat cakes and grilled in a pan – they end up crispy on the outside, super-soft on the inside, and are SO GOOD when you dip them in a little bit of honey.

OR.

You could roast a pile of sesame seeds…

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Until they’re toasty and fragrant.

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Put some in a mixer with a little bit of salt and sugar,

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Grind into a coarse powder,

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And cover mini-sized mochi balls in them.

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Don’t let their coal-like appearance fool you.

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These are FREAKING AMAZING.

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Sad to say, dduk is pretty hard to make without the right equipment. But if you DO have a machine at home, and it’s just sitting in the cabinet collecting dust (like ours was), then I hope this post helps you realize its hidden potential.

And for the rest of you… I hope you guys enjoyed the pictures? I can bring you some homemade dduk if you want. :)

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Discussion

14 thoughts on “Making Mochi with Grandma

  1. I feel creepy saying this, but you have a beautiful food blog! All of your pictures tell a story and are seriously drool worthy. :)

    I didn’t know much about Korean food before I read your blog, but since then I’ve learned a lot. Thanks for sharing your culinary adventures!

    Posted by Angelica P. | July 13, 2011, 1:43 am
  2. do you think I could cook sticky rice on the glutinous rice or steam setting of my rice cooker, and then whip it around in my stand mixer until it’s homogenous? I have rice cooker envy, since I love mochi and I’ve never had the microwave method turn out well for me.

    Thanks!

    Posted by alex | July 13, 2011, 7:55 am
    • I think that might definitely work; after all, that’s pretty much what my dduk machine does. You would have to make sure to beat the glutinous rice as soon as it finished cooking though – while it’s still hot. If you do try it, tell me how it turns out!

      Posted by minyungee | July 13, 2011, 10:09 pm
  3. A friend from Hawaii once showed me how to make butter mochi with a pack of mochi powder and what seemed at the time to be an ungodly amount of butter. The result was chewy, greasy, and delicious, but the recipe still seemed intimidating to try on my own. Thanks for these fascinating photos for Korean mochi!

    Posted by Diana | July 13, 2011, 8:49 am
  4. I wonder if a bread machine would work with a bit of futzing. There are instructions on how to cook rice in them, and then turn it on the dough setting when it’s cooked.

    Posted by Smoke | July 13, 2011, 10:01 am
  5. Bring me some dduk in philly. So droolworthy…

    Posted by Brooke | July 13, 2011, 11:19 am
  6. I want that machine!! Where can I find one?

    Posted by wendy | July 13, 2011, 11:48 am
  7. Oh wow, mochi from scratch! I make my own mochi, but I use the glutinous rice flour. I’ve never made my own from rice. I looked into buying a machine once but it was so expensive and I know I wouldn’t use it enough. Love seeing your step by step pictures though. I can imagine how good these must taste!

    Posted by kirbie | July 13, 2011, 1:11 pm
  8. I had no idea there were these kind of machines! Awesome!

    Posted by Rosie | July 15, 2011, 1:23 pm
  9. I never knew there were mochi making machines! Wow! Great step-by-step pics. Thank you :D

    Posted by sgsy | June 19, 2013, 9:39 am
  10. I have a machine and used organic sweet rice the machine found it very hard to soften the rice did you use maybe white sweet rice with the outer shell taken off thanks I love ,mochi cannot buy it in TX so got a machine

    Posted by Claire Daring Pound Fitzgerald | February 25, 2014, 2:41 pm

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