Monday, February 11, 2013

Mochi-Tea Ceremony Foods


All of these ingredients can be found at an Asian supermarket or grocery store:
1 lb Mochiko (glutinous rice flour, sometimes called sweet rice flour)
3 cups sugar
1 can coconut milk
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk(preferred for thicker sweeter mochi)
1 1/2 cups of water
A few drops of food colouring (preferably red)
Katakuriko (potato starch) (cornstarch is also a substitute or variation)

1Assemble the ingredients and items needed to prepare the mochi.

2Sift the Mochiko into a large bowl.

3Add the cups of white sugar.

4Add the unsweetened coconut milk. Do not stir.

5Add the cups of plain water and a few drops of food colouring. Mix with a balloon whisk until the mixture is lump free.

6Preheat the oven to 450f .

7Line the cake pans with aluminum foil (bottom and sides), grease the foil with oil or spray.

8Divide the batter into the three cake pans, cover the batter with more greased foil so that the foil is touching the batter.

9Bake for 1 hour on the middle shelf of your oven.

10Let cool for another hour, then take off the top foil from one of the pans.

11Dust a work surface with katakuriko (potato starch) and invert the mochi onto the surface. Very slowly and carefully peel off the other layer of foil, and be careful because it will try to stick.

12Cut off the crusts around the edge of the mochi. As the cook's prerogative, you can snack on these while you prepare the final product.

13Cut the mochi into triangles or squares.

14Dust each mochi triangle or square on the bottom, top and sides with katakuriko. Do this until all of the mochi are dusted.

-Other Interests/Info
Mochi (Japanese sweets)
Traditionally the sweets are served before the green tea or matcha. The reason for this is the green tea is very bitter to drink by itself. When you have a sweet or mochi it helps balance the tea's bitterness. Think of it when you drink certain wines with certain foods. This helps compliment the food you are eating and the wine you are drinking.
The Japanese sweets that are served in tea ceremonies are made from glutinous rice. Sometimes the rice is mixed with a sweet red bean called azuki. One thing you'll notice the colors of the sweets correspond to the season of the year. For spring the sweets are pink to represent the cherry blossoms. A mochi will be wrapped in a cherry blossom leaf.
Kaiseki (a light meal during a tea ceremony)
The meal served during a tea ceremony is called kaiseki. Usually there is a theme to them such as a type of flower. Vegetables, fish and meat are served as part of the menu. Great care is taken in selecting the dishes and the freshest ingredients by using only what is in season. Also, the ingredients represent from where they came from: rivers, mountains, oceans, fields and forests.
There are multiple courses in kaiseki, so here are some of the highlights. Yuzu starts it off with a fragrant citrus brew. Chasoba-zushi, which is a green tea sushi soba rolled in cucumbers, shiitake mushrooms, pickled radish and mountain potato. You won't find this kind of sushi at your favorite sushi restaurant. Soup, tofu and Japanese squash are also part of the meal.
Last but not least it ends with the "stop bowl" of Japanese pickles or konomono. Its purpose is not to be a filling meal even though there are multiple dishes served. They are served in appetizer sizes, so as not to leave anything on the plate. The food is to be pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. In a way it is much too pretty to eat. All you want to do is look at it.


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