It’s ‘mochi’ easier than you think: Traditional Taiwanese mochi recipe

Photo of Taiwanese mochi
Kristie Lin/Staff

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A couple of weeks ago, I found myself atop a misty mountain in Taiwan, watching in awe as steamed sticky rice turned into delicate mochi. Store-bought mochi is typically made from machines, which gives it that smooth, even and velvety consistency. I learned, however, that making your own mochi from scratch gives it a slightly coarser but more flavorful and hearty texture. It’s also easier than it seems! Traditional Taiwanese mochi only requires sweet sticky rice, a bit of warm water and a whole lot of strength. If you’re looking for a tasty experiment or an arm workout, read on for the recipe!

Ingredients 

Peanut toppings (optional)

  • ½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts 
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Mochi

  • 1 cup sweet sticky rice or millet rice 

Directions

Peanut toppings (optional)

  1. Pour peanuts into a blender and pulse for 5 seconds. The peanuts won’t be finely ground yet. 
  2. Use a spoon or rubber spatula to scrape the peanut bits from the sides and pulse for another 5 seconds. Scrape the sides again. 
  3. If you’re happy with the consistency of the peanut powder, remove it from the blender. If not, pulse for another round. Be careful not to overdo it, or the heat from pulsing will turn the peanuts oily and wet. 
  4. Remove peanut powder from the blender, and allow it to cool. 
  5. Add sugar to the peanut powder and mix thoroughly. Set the peanut toppings aside.

Mochi

  1. Soak the rice in water for at least 4 hours. 
  2. Drain the rice, and place it in a bamboo steamer lined with parchment paper. Steam for 30 minutes, or until rice is soft and translucent. If you don’t have a steamer, you can use other methods to steam the sticky rice. 
  3. Once cooked, place the rice in a wooden mortar. Wet the wooden pestle with some warm water and start pounding the sticky rice. Indigenous Taiwanese people use a large wooden pestle and mortar to pound and twist the sticky rice into mochi; however, a smaller one works too! Just be careful not to put too much rice in at once if you’re working with smaller tools. 
  4. Keep grinding and working at the rice until it starts to look like mochi. Note: This will take a lot of pounding. Don’t despair if it takes longer than you think!
  5. Once your rice has become mochi, twist the dough against the pestle to remove it from the mortar in one clump. 
  6. Break the mochi dough into smaller bite-sized pieces, roll in peanut mixture (if using) and enjoy! 

And there you have it! Who knew making mochi could be so simple — all the arm work aside, of course. This mochi recipe is easy and versatile. If you’re not feeling the traditional peanut topping, you can also roll the mochi in a sugary black sesame mixture, wrap it around a red bean paste or even just drizzle it with honey. The combinations of sugary delight are endless. Happy mochi making!

Contact Kristie Lin at [email protected].