Ways To Prepare Mochi

Mochi is a traditional Japanese food made from steamed and mashed sweet rice dried in shallow pans and cut into squares. When baked in a 450°F. oven, broiled, or pan-fried for 10 minutes, mochi puffs up into delicious, chewy "biscuits". Mochi can be found in the refrigerated or frozen food cases in Asian, specialty, and natural food stores. Mochi can be served muffin or pita-style, split and stuffed with nut butter and apple sauce or jam, sandwich spreads, dips, beans, or salad fixings. It can be flattened into waffles or expanded into dumplings. When grated and sprinkled on steamed vegetables or casseroles just before cooking or baking, it transforms into a "cheesy" topping. The possibilities are endless.

Once prepared, mochi should be eaten immediately since it hardens upon cooling. Keep extra pieces of mochi covered during the meal to retain heat. Hardened mochi can be refreshed in a steamer or tortilla warmer.

Baked: Preheat oven or toaster oven to 450°F. Place individual squares of mochi on a cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until mochi has "puffed up". Remove from the oven before the surface of the mochi cracks and exposes the insides. Cut in half and stuff or spread with your favorite filling. Eat immediately.

Pan-fried: Brushing both sides of mochi with oil and placing it in a heavy skillet preheated over a medium flame or setting. Cover with a lid and cook approximately 4 minutes on each side. Watch it carefully to avoid burning. Serve as above.

Waffled: Place one or two pieces in a lightly oiled waffle iron, close the lid, and wait, approximately 10 minutes, until the "jaws" of the waffle iron touch.

Simmered: Adding pieces directly in soups or stews. The smaller the pieces, the shorter the simmering time. For pieces approximately 2 inches square, plan on adding them during the last15 minutes of cooking. If cooked too long, the mochi will dissolve and thicken the soup.

Melted: Grate mochi and sprinkle on top of vegetables, casseroles, or pizza. Cover with a lid or foil and steam or bake as normal. Serve immediately.

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