A week ago we made mochi at my friend Y-san's house.
We used an electric mochi maker. It can also make bread. (So I think everybody gets one of these as a wedding present in Japan...). There are three steps. I'm not even sure what happens first--I think you boil the rice in a bunch of water in the machine. Then you pour the water off, and put the rice back in there for a while. (See? Isn't this totally informative? It's like a cooking show!)
But then the exciting part happens. You take out a special attachment, and put the rice back in again. At first it just looks like rice.But the machine jiggle-jiggles the rice for about 10 minutes. The rice is moving around and around like it's in a washing machine. This is hilarious to watch. We couldn't stop laughing.
As it jiggles, the rice gets smoother and smoother. All the lumps go away.
Then, we spread regular corn starch on these trays and on our hands.
Y-san plopped the mochi-ness onto one of the trays. Then we tore of hunks. It was HOT! Y-san burned her hands a little, but she said it happens every year.
Then we all rolled the mochi into little komochi balls!
When you put one ball on top of the other, it's called kagami mochi, which means mirror mochi (maybe like a rock sitting in a still pond?). Do you remember seeing this at Shimogamo shrine? It's a new year's thing--you make a kagami mochi and save it until Jan 15th, and then can eat it. (Except ours already got moldy and we threw it away.)
My boys love eating mochi. It tastes like rice, but it's stretchy and extremely chewy. You can also wet it, and roll it in the brown kinako (soybean) powder you see above. Then your mochi ball will taste like peanut butter cookie dough! Fabulous.
It is also great for pulling teeth.
We ate tons of mochi, played games, and then ate some nabe. This is my favorite Japanese meal. You put meat, tofu, and veggies in a pot of water, cook it, and eat it together.
A very fun day. Thanks, Y-san!