On top of buying it when I see it on sale, I end up bringing lots of it home from my parents' house after visiting them for New Years. Before I know it, every corner of my kitchen gets filled with mochi (traditional Japanese sticky rice cakes).
In the U.S., mochi is a sweet, delicious treat -- but not something used often in home cooking. The sticky rice cakes have a wide variety of uses in savory dishes. We've compiled a set of simple yet utterly delicious "mochi arrangement recipes" which use simple ingredients you can find at any supermarket or specialty store that carries Japanese products.
One-Minute Microwave "Mochi Fish Cakes"
People often fill the hole of chikuwa (small, hollow tubes made of fish and other ingredients) with cucumber or cheese, and sometimes with potato salad or fish roe. If you insert a thin cut of mochi into the chikuwa instead and microwave it, you've got "Mochi Fish Cakes"! Don't be disappointed by how simple the recipe sounds: the finished snack has a great texture and goes well with sake. You can also cut the mochi even smaller and add cheese.
Check out the recipe here! From "Mii's Delicious Home," by Mii.
Mochi Goes Great With Curry! The "Deep-Fried Curry Mochi Sandwich"
Fry thin slices of mochi layered with curry, and brown these "sandwiches" in a toaster. It is an excellent snack to eat with beer and a clever way to use up extra instant curry. If you cut the mochi too thick, it won't get fried thoroughly, so be careful during that step.
A Dreamy Combination of Flavors: "Peanut Butter Wrapped in Seaweed"
Mochi wrapped in butter, soy sauce and nori (dried seaweed) is delicious! If you take that one step further and spread peanut butter on it as though it's toast, you create an entirely new taste. With a little salt and sugar, plain nori becomes saturated with flavor.
Mochi Goes With Sichuan Sauce Too! "Sichuan Mochi"
Replace the more typical white tofu with white mochi and you've got "Sichuan Mochi." Cut the mochi into large, bite-size pieces and fry it until it's crispy, then just mix it with store-bought Sichuan sauce! This dish goes well with sake, and can end up being a fair volume of food. "Sichuan Mochi" alone can constitute an entire meal!
Simple in its deliciousness, mochi has been part of Japanese cuisine since before the Nara Era -- over 1,000 years ago. The calories in mochi can be a concern, but it can also serve to prevent overeating if used as an ingredient in a larger dish. Mochi consumption has become an ingrained custom of modern Japan. How do you like to eat your mochi?
This post originally appeared on HuffPost Japan and was translated into English.