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Seriously Asian: How to Make Mochi by Hand

This Sunday marks the Lunar New Year for the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean cultures. While no single dish can represent the diverse practices of each cuisine, rice is a common thread, a symbol of wealth and plenty. This year, I'm making mochi, which is always fashioned from glutinous sweet rice. The grains of rice develop an especially sticky surface when cooked. So sweet and dense, the kernels taste appropriately gluttonous on special occasions.

"Making mochi at home is a completely manageable, albeit sticky, activity."

In Japan and Korea, the rounds of glutinous rice, known as mochi and tteok, respectively, are indulgently gooey affairs. The cakes, which can either be sweet or savory, are steamed, pounded, or pan-fried.

Store-bought versions are usually coated with too much starch and can taste like chemicals or waxy fillings. The homemade version, however, is one of my favorite treats: soft and chewy with the sweetness of glutinous rice coming through, freshly pounded mochi is not to be missed. And, despite its opaque appearance, making mochi at home is a completely manageable, albeit sticky, activity. The steps and recipe ideas, after the jump.

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