Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Afton Dreams of Mochi

Over the holidays a friend gave us a two pound box of Chi Chi Dango Mochi. It is a Japanese treat that is similar in texture to Aplets & Cotlets. It has a similar powdery coating too but the taste is much subtler and so much more addicting. We were instantly hooked. It disappeared quickly.

Afton and I started researching recipes. We looked online and in the library and in the Hawaiian cookbooks at Costco. We found that though there are many kinds of Mochi that it seems there is only one recipe for Chi Chi Dango. Every recipe we found for it was basically the same. The one online by Sam Choy had the best descriptions though so that is the one we used.

We had to get some special ingredients. We hunted down some Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour and some Potato Starch. We were hoping to find it for a really good price somewhere and so we searched at WalMart and Costco but didn't find any. Since I didn't want to make a special trip to Chinatown, where I know I could find it cheaper, I ended up buying it at Foodland. The Mochiko was $2.50 for one box and the Potato Starch was $3.50 for a bag. Both are cheaper ordered through Amazon.

Here is the recipe from http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/1904849/sam-choys-kitchen-recipe-chi-chi-dango, retrieved on 1/9/2013
Sam Choy's Kitchen recipe: Chi Chi Dango

3½ cup mochiko 
2½ cups sugar 
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 can coconut milk
Red and green food coloring (optional)
Potato starch
In a mixing bowl, sift dry ingredients and set aside.
In another mixing bowl, whisk coconut mix and water.  Add vanilla and mix well.  Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until well blended.
1) If you want to make 3 (color) layers to your mochi:
Divide batter into three equal parts.  Add couple drops of red food coloring to the bowl, mix and pour into a 9 inch by 13 inch greased pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Pour second layer (different color or white- no coloring added) over first layer and bake for 20 minutes.  Next add couple drops of green food coloring to last divided batter, mix well and pour over second layer and bake for 30 minutes. 
2) If you just want to make your mochi with just one color (no layers):
Add couple drops of red or green food coloring to the batter and mix well.  Pour the whole mixture in a greased 9 inch by 13 inch baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
It's very important to cover pan very tightly with foil while baking!
Allow the mochi to cool completely.  Turn the pan of mochi out onto a clean surface that has been dusted with potato starch or cut mochi straight from the pan into bite size pieces using a plastic knife.   Roll in potato starch and dust off excess before serving.
Our pan was a bit smaller so it ended up needing to cook longer. It didn't pop out of the pan so we cut it out piece by piece. As Afton and I were working on it, cutting each square, rolling it in the potato starch, dusting it off and then placing it in it's container, she looked at me and said, "I feel like Jiro. I'm going to have a mochi shop and call it 'Afton Dreams of Mochi'" (Have you seen the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi? You really must. I think it is still on Netflix . . .)
Afton shows off what she considers one of her more perfect pieces of Chi Chi Dango.
We enjoyed our time working together and really enjoyed the fruits of our labor. So delicious but not quite perfect. We will be purchasing a pan that is the right size, 9x13, with nice square edges. I think we'll also put some parchment paper in the bottom of the pan to make it easier to slide the mochi out of the pan. Next time we will also be doubling the flavoring. We would like to try some other flavors too so I will be purchasing some banana extract and some almond extract to try those out. Yum, yum, yum.

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