Toyoko Nakagawara has a skill that makes her essential for mochi-making day at the Tacoma Buddhist Temple – she’s got hands that can handle piping hot dough. Rolling out the steamed dough is an essential step when making daifuku mochi, a Japanese confection of sweetened red beans stuffed into a chewy rice dough.
“I was in the dry cleaning business, so I was used to the heat,” laughed Nakagawara about tugging the hot dough out of the steamer before forming it into round skins. The finished bun is a gelatinous orb – the taste is sweet and creamy.
The mochi is one of several desserts that will be sold at the Tacoma Buddhist Temple’s Bazaar, held 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Other food will be served at the bazaar and there also will be an art sale.
Mochi is undeniably one of the highlights of the bazaar. Every year, volunteers gather a few weeks before the event to make hundreds of daifuki mochi in the temple’s basement kitchen.
At a mochi-making party a few years ago, Nakagawara shared her secrets for making perfect mochi. Temple volunteers make the dough from sweetened rice flour, sugar, corn syrup and just enough water to make it a big, sticky mess. The dough is then steamed over a big pot of boiling water, then removed from the heat – that’s Nakagawara’s special talent, remember – and then rolled by hand until it’s just the right creamy texture. A dusting of cornstarch keeps the dough pliable. The beans are simmered with sugar and water and cooked down until they become a thick paste, which they form into balls. The mochi dough is cut into circles, then molded by hand around the bean paste. A solid roll and a few pats shape the mochi into gelatinous orbs. (Mochi also can be made as a frozen dessert using ice cream for a filling – for that, you need cold hands and you must work quickly.)
For a home cook, there’s an easier way to make daifuku mochi – using the microwave. The dough is mixed as it is at the temple, but then it’s microwaved instead of steamed. Nakagawara shared her recipe here for home cooks to try (scroll down for the recipe).
Also on Sunday, the bazaar will have all kinds of food to eat – from udon noodle soup to kebabs, curry and chow mein. There also will be a number of other desserts to eat there or to take home.
Sunday’s event isn’t just about eating – there will be artwork and sumi-e ink paintings, pottery and handmade items for sale.
Tacoma Buddhist Temple Bazaar
When: 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Sunday Nov. 4., 2012
Where: Tacoma Buddhist Temple, 1717 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma
Contact: 253-627-1417, tacomabt.org
For the dough:
1-1/2 cups sweet rice flour (see purchasing note)
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup corn syrup
For the bean filling:
2 pounds azuki beans (dried red beans)
5 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Water to fill
For the dough: Mix rice flour and sugar together well in a microwave-safe large bowl. Add water and mix well with wooden spoon, then add the corn syrup and mix until combined. Cover mixture in microwave-safe bowl with stretchable plastic food wrap to create a dome during microwaving. Microwave on high for 8 to 9 minutes. Remove plastic cover. (Be careful, the plastic wrap will be hot.) Quickly knead the mochi dough with a wooden spoon. Roll mochi out onto a large cutting board sprinkled with corn starch. Divide mochi into 14 or 15 pieces. Then, flatten the discs and fill with the azuki bean filling and then mound into a circular shape.
For the bean filling: Put azuki beans in a bowl, cover with water and soak overnight until soft to the touch. Rinse beans and then place them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover and turn the heat to low. Simmer until beans are soft, about an hour. Remove the lid and cook beans until water has reduced and beans are fully cooked. Add sugar and salt and cook until water is nearly gone, being careful not to let the beans get too mushy. Remove mixture and place into a microwave safe bowl and microwave until the mixture is just softer than the texture of cookie dough. (The dough will stiffen as it cools, so be careful not to let it get too thick.) Let mixture cool and form azuki filling into small balls to be placed inside mochi dough.
Purchasing notes: Sweet rice flour and red beans can be purchased at Japanese and Korean grocery stores. Try Paldo World, Asian Market and BooHan Market in Lakewood and East Asia Supermarket in Tacoma. Nakagawara likes the Blue Star Brand Sweet Rice Flour from Koda Farms. You can buy the azuki filling already prepared at the Korean or Japanese grocery stores. Azuki beans are sometimes spelled adzuki or aduki, as well.