One of my favorite things about cooking is finding out cool facts about the origins of recipes.
I love to look in antique stores for really old cookbooks and go through them, reading about how people used to prepare dishes that we eat today. Many times, the version of a recipe from just seventy or eighty years ago is radically different than what we are used to eating now, and I find it fascinating to research where the dish originated and how the recipe became what it is modern-day.
From a historical point of view, it’s also really cool to see how recipes reflect the cultural heritages of the people who come up with them.
For example, I recently made jello mochi, a popular Hawaiian sweet that combines Hawaiians’ Japanese heritage (the sticky mochi rice cake has been popular in Japan for more than a thousand years) with a more modern and tropical taste and method of preparation (the mixture uses packaged tropical flavored Jell-O mix and is cooked in a microwave).
I didn’t take any step-by-step pictures for this recipe, because the mochi “dough” is EXTREMELY sticky and hot when it comes out of the microwave, and you sort of have to work quickly. It’s not very convenient for holding a camera or stopping to take pictures :P
Plus, there’s not really much to this recipe. I just mixed the ingredients, microwaved them, poured them out onto a cornstarch-dusted surface (the cornstarch is what keeps the mochi sticky inside while preventing them from sticking to your hands and plates and each other). Then I cut them into pieces and rolled them in cornstarch to coat the sides.
Instead of making the whole recipe at once, I made half of the recipe using one kind of jello, and then made the other half with a different flavor.
I just poured the second batch of mochi dough on top of the first, and then coated my hands with cornstarch and pressed the two blobs of dough into a square-ish flat-ish thing that I could cut into pieces.
The flavors I chose were strawberry and lime, which went together beautifully and tasted fantastic!
And the leftover pieces that I trimmed from the sides got diced into little cubes that are really tasty on top of ice cream or yogurt. In fact, mochi cubes are becoming popular in those choose-your-toppings frozen yogurt places. Maybe you’ve seen them there!
Here’s my recipe, but if you don’t want to do two different colors then you can just do it all in one batch (using 2 packs of one kind of Jell-O).
If you cut them into 1-inch squares, it makes about 30 mochi.
Strawberry-Lime Jello Mochi
2 cups boiling water
a 3 oz package of each strawberry and lime gelatin
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups mochiko (glutinous rice flour)
cornstarch for dusting
Pour the lime gelatin powder into a microwaveable mixing bowl. Add a cup of the boiling water and stir until the powder is dissolved. Then stir in 1/3 cup of the sugar and a cup of the mochiko.
Microwave for five to seven minutes, stopping halfway through to stir. You’ll know when it is cooked because the “dough” stops looking grainy and becomes more see-through and darker in color.
Pour (you’ll have to use a spoon to scrape it out and it’s very sticky) the dough onto a counter or cutting board dusted with cornstarch. Use the spoon to spread/flatten it out a little, but make sure the cornstarch doesn’t get on the top surface of the dough, leave that part sticky so the strawberry dough can stick to it.
Repeat the first step using the strawberry jello packet, and microwave until it is cooked.
Pour the strawberry mochi on top of the lime, and spread it to be even with the edges of the lime mochi.
Dust your hands with cornstarch and press the dough into a flat kind of rectangle or square. Then use a sharp knife to slice the mochi into pieces, covering the sides of each piece with more cornstarch as you go.
The leftover edge trimmings can be used as mochi cube toppings. Enjoy!
*Also, if any celiac people are reading this, the “glutinous rice flour” thing is kind of deceptive. Mochiko is just called that because of the stickiness, but it’s actually gluten-free :)