10 Ways You Can Eat Mochi

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All the Ways You Can Eat Mochi

When you think of the mochi, the first thing that comes to many minds, at least in the U.S., is probably the chewy sweet snack stuffed with filling or ice cream. But there are so many more ways to enjoy it.

Mochi is made from glutinous, short-grain rice, and to achieve its iconic texture, the rice is steamed and repeatedly smashed with traditional hammers or with the help of modern machinery. The pounding motion adds air bubbles to the dough, which creates its unique texture. As it’s heated up, it can transform into other textures.

Mochi is a traditional Japanese food, with origins in China and Southeast Asia, that can be eaten year-round, but is especially eaten in celebration of the New Year. There are many types of mochi ranging from traditional to more modern and fusion variations. Whether you’ve been eating it all your life, and curious to see if you’ve been missing out on something, or itching to try it for the first time, here’s your guide to some of the most popular ways to eat mochi.

Grilled, Baked or Fried

One traditional way to prepare mochi is simply to grill or bake it. Typically, grilled or baked mochi is served with soy sauce and wrapped in seaweed (isobe-maki). Some other classic ways to eat it is with anko (sweet red bean paste) or with kinako (soy powder and sugar), but there are many variations.

Kakimochi is mochi that is thinly cut and then fried, which turns the soft mochi into a crispy rice cracker. Kakimochi can be eaten sweet or savory and topped with additional seasonings like natto, black sugar syrup, miso, ginger, grated daikon, ra-yuchile oil and togarashi red chile pepper, just to name a few.


Daifuku, which literally translates to “great luck,” is a small, round mochi stuffed with sweetened red bean paste. Often served alongside green tea, the supple treats are usually covered with a layer of potato starch rice, flour or cornstarch to prevent them from sticking to each other. Daifuku tend to come in three varieties: pink, green and white. Green dango is typically flavored with matcha or mugfort. Pink dango is typically strawberry or sakura-flavored. White is usually plain. Another popular variety is Ichigo Daifuku which is an iteration stuffed with a whole fresh strawberry.

Kagami Mochi

Comprised of two layers of round mochi topped with a mandarin, kagami mochi is used as a Japanese New Year decoration. The ancient Japanese believed that the stacked mochi resembled a bronze mirror, which was considered a prized treasure. The belief was that by stacking such treasured items, one’s fortune would double in the upcoming year. Kagami mochi is typically decorated with lucky items such as Japanese decorative paper, strips of konbu, ferns and more. After the New Year, the decoration is removed from the family altar and broken by hand into smaller pieces before cooking in a soup or as a sweet red bean dessert soup. Eating mochi signifies good health and good fortune in the New Year.


Ozoni has been a traditional New Year’s dish in Japan since the time of the samurai, approximately 794-1185 A.D. during the Heian Period. It’s made with a light miso or kombu dashi-based broth, vegetables and mochi. There are two styles of ozoni by region: Kanto and Kansai. The biggest difference between the two are the soup and the mochi shapes. Kansai style is made with white miso soup with round mochi, and Kanto-style soup is made with soy sauce and rectangular mochi. Both styles share ingredients such as chicken, watercress, spinach, carrots, daikon and kamaboko, with each ingredient carrying a symbolic lucky meaning for the New Year.

Get the Recipe:Ozoni

Mochi Ice Cream

Mochi ice cream is one of the most recognizable forms of mochi in the U.S. Frances Hashimoto, the former president and CEO of Mikawaya, is credited with inventing mochi ice cream in the mid ’90s. The dessert is made from a sweet, pounded rice dough wrapped around a nugget of ice cream. Although the original mochi ice cream flavors started off with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, these days you can find flavors like passionfruit, coffee, plum, green tea, red bean, black sesame, mint chip and so much more.

Get the Recipe:Mochi Ice Cream

Butter Mochi

Butter mochi is a treat that evolved in Hawaii and has since become a distinctly Hawaiian dish. When Japanese immigrants began working on plantations on the islands in the 1880s, Japanese and Hawaiian foods and culture began to mix and take on a life of their own. Butter mochi is made with coconut milk and mochiko (glutinous rice flour). It’s something like a cross between a Filipino bibingka (or buttercake) and Japanese mochi and with a deep golden top layer, resembles a cake on the outside, with a sweet, chewy texture on the inside.

Get the Recipe:Butter Mochi

Mochi Doughnuts

Mochi doughnuts, otherwise known as pon de ring, were invented by doughnut chain Mister Donut in Japan. The treats are, as their name implies, a fusion of doughnuts and mochi shaped like a ring, but comprised of what looks like a string of balls (the word “pon de” comes from Brazilian cheese balls, Pao de Queijo, which are made of tapioca flour). The doughnuts are bouncier and chewier than their non-mochi counterparts, and are made with gluten-free tapioca or glutinous rice flour.

Get the Recipe:Mochi Doughnuts

Hishi Mochi

Hishi mochi is a beautiful tri-colored mochi molded into the shape of a diamond. It consists of a jasmine-flavored pink layer, a plain white layer infused with water chestnuts and a bottom green mugwort layer. Every Hinamatsuri “Girl’s Day” festival, or March 3, Hishi mochi is presented as a symbolic ceremonial dessert and are given to Hina Matsuri dolls as an offering. It’s believed that the mochi’s diamond shape represents fertility, health and the elimination of misfortune. The food holds connotations of hopes and well wishes for children.

Sakura Mochi

Sakura mochi is also usually eaten on Girl’s Day and throughout the spring in Japan. Made of sweet red bean paste, and chewy sweet glutinous rice, all wrapped in a salty pickled cherry leaf, this treat brings together the aroma of cherry blossom and a delectable mix of textures, while balancing salty and sweet flavors. There are slight variations of this mochi depending on the region. The Kanto region uses glutinous rice flour to make the sakura mochi into small, flat crepe-like shapes whereas the Kansai region uses steamed glutinous rice that is dried and made into coarsely crushed rice flour.

Hanabira Mochi

Hanabira mochi is made to look like a flower petal. A thin, transparent layer of white mochi is wrapped around a red bean or burdock root filling so that the color of the center peeks out. The mochi is purposely not sealed so that the filling can stay on display. Hanabira mochi is typically eaten at the beginning of the New Year, especially as an accompaniment to the first tea ceremony of the year.

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