Mochi ice cream
What is mochi ice cream?
Mochi (“moh-chee”) is a sticky sweet dough made from Japanese glutinous rice (mochigome). To make mochi ice cream, the dough is stretched or rolled and wrapped around scoops of ice cream. In Japan, it is a refreshing dessert and a summer indulgence.
Good mochi is soft and sticky and is eaten in many ways, both sweet and savoury. For example, you can enjoy it as a dough ball, grilled as a cube or in a soup. Mochi balls are rolled with shrimp or sesame, or crushed together with edamame into a green sauce. Natto mochi is popular, balls of mochi mixed with natto. Sweet mochi comes in many pastel colours, thanks to the addition of colourants to the dough.
In some places, the first rice harvest is celebrated with a feast in which the entire village helps to make mochi and then eats it together. Mochi is seen as a reward for a season of hard work.
First, the mochi is made. Japanese glutinous rice is cooked in the traditional way and then mashed into a large wooden mortar (kine) first into a puree and then beaten into an elastic dough. Professional, high-speed mochi-machines can have the job done in a few minutes, but at normal speed, by hand, it takes about half an hour.
Mochi ice cream was conceived in the 1980s and quickly became popular outside of Japan, particularly in the United States, Canada and Hawaii, where you can buy it ready-made in supermarkets.
Did you know...
There are various techniques for mashing the mochi for the mochi ice cream. One of the best-known involves a person who “stomps” the dough or rams it with a large wooden hammer, while a second person dampens the dough with their hands and turns it into the mortar. A dangerous job, because if you don’t pull your hands away on time, you could get hit with the mallet.
How to make mochi ice cream
The mochi used for mochi ice cream is not traditional mochi, because it would be rock hard in the freezer. A mochi flour dough is used instead, mixed with water and steamed or microwaved. It is much quicker to make than traditional mochi. The dough is then formed around a round or rectangular mould or rolled out with a rolling pin. The rolled out dough is cooled and circles are cut out, which are rolled around small scoops of ice.
In mochi ice cream factories, mochi dough and ice cream simply disappear into a machine and scoops of mochi ice cream come out. Easy!
How to eat
You eat the scoops of ice cream with your fingers, or pin them on a (cocktail) stick and then bite off pieces off it. Note: you bite directly into cold ice, so it can be quite a shock to your tooth enamel!
Another sweet Japanese treat is dorayaki, a filling of red bean paste surrounded by two thick, soft pancakes.