How to Make Savory Mochi At Home
The mochi dish at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco is close to my heart, as it was one of the first dishes I created for the restaurant. It was born out of a kombu cooking challenge that chef/co-owner Stuart Brioza asked the entire team to do in the fall of 2014. At the time, I was the morning saucier, not yet a chef in the restaurant. I chose to pair kombu and rice, which are very commonly found together, but I wanted to come up with an original take. As I cast about for what to prepare, I remembered the first time that my grandmother served me a savory snack of pan-fried mochi with shoyu and nori. I was 7 or 8 years old, and at first, I complained and protested: Mochi, to me, was a dessert. I refused to believe that it could be savory. After the first bite of the soft, warm, salty mochi, I was completely shocked, super excited, and naturally ate the entire plate. To replicate that moment of discovery, I decided to make a mochi using a pureed cooked-vegetable base seasoned with kombu and mochiko, the glutinous rice flour used to make mochi, as a binder. It's not so far from a gnocchi made from potato and flour. That idea and that memory came together to create my first pumpkin mochi at State Bird. It was a hit—so much so that my vegetable mochi is now a quintessential dish at State Bird throughout the year, pairing a seasonal vegetable mochi with several forms of the same vegetable: Savory Carrot Mochi with Pistachio Dukkah in the spring, corn in the summer, pumpkin in the fall, and beet in the winter. Every time I make it, I remember my grandmother and thank her for first introducing me to the joys of savory mochi.
How to Make Carrot Mochi
1. Cook The Carrots
Simmer fresh spring carrots in carrot juice until carrots are tender and juice is reduced for a double dose of carrot flavor.
2. Make a Puree
Puree the cooked carrots with an additional splash of fresh carrot juice to form a silky smooth puree.
3. Make the Mochi Dough
Stir mochiko—a sweet, glutinous rice flour that lends a bouncy, chewy texture—into carrot puree; knead until smooth.
4. Roll the Mochi
Working with 1 tablespoonful of mochi dough at a time, roll dough between palms to form smooth 1-inch balls.
5. Blanch and Shock the Mochi
Cook mochi dumplings in boiling salted water to set the dough, and then cool in an ice bath. (The mochi can be made ahead to this step and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 24 hours.)
6. Crisp the Mochi
Pan-fry mochi in brown butter to crisp the exterior of the dumplings while maintaining the fun and classic mochi texture within.