What is Mochi? A Guide to One of Japan’s Most Iconic Dishes

When it comes to traditional Japanese foods, mochi is definitely one of the most popular. Though it is enjoyed all year long, these chewy rice cakes are especially revered on New Years Day, as it is believed to bring good luck and fortune to whoever enjoys them. Today, we’ll be diving into the deep history of this delicious Japanese snack – from how it’s made, how it’s enjoyed, and how you can make your own! Let’s dive in. 

History of Mochi 

Made with processed rice flour, mochi “rice cake” has been enjoyed in Japan for centuries, and comes in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. In Japan, locals traditionally make this in a ceremony called “mochitsuki,” where people take turns pounding the mochi with wooden mallets in a stone or wooden mortar called an usu.  but today, mochi powder has made it easy to make mochi quickly and uniformly at any time. 

It is believed that mochi was first introduced to Japan from South East Asia during the Jōmon period (c. 14,000–300 BC), with homemade production of mochi increasing during the Kofun period (c. 300–500 BC).  

How is mochi made? 

Mochi is made of mochigome (short-grain glutinous rice), where the rice is steamed, pounded, and mashed to create a chewy paste. It is then molded into its desired shape, and can be enjoyed immediately or dried for later use. It is recommended to freeze mochi if preserving it, rather than refrigerating it. 

The great thing about mochi is that it can be enjoyed both as a savory or sweet dish. When enjoying it as a savory dish, you can dip the mochi in soy sauce, or make it into a rice cake soup, or even chikira udon! 

There are many different sweet forms of mochi as well, such as, but not limited to: 

  • Daifuku (soft round mochi stuffed with red bean paste or white bean paste) 
  • Kusa mochi (green rice cakes colored and flavored with mugwort) 
  • Warabimochi (or bracken starch dusted with nutty soy bean powder)
  • Akafuku (covered in red bean paste) 
  • Chichi dango (sweet mochi served on a stick) 

New Year’s Mochi, or “Kagami Mochi 

Kagami mochi, or “mirror rice cakes”, are traditional Japanese New Year decorations made with two round mochi cakes, one large and one smaller. The smaller piece of mochi will be placed on top of the large, and a Japanese orange with an attached leaf will take its place on top. In addition, it may have a sheet of konbu and a skewer of dried persimmons under the mochi 

Traditionally, the kagami mochi was placed in various locations throughout the house at New Years’. Today it is usually placed in a household Shinto altar, or kamidana. It can also be placed in the tokonoma, a small decorated alcove in the main room of the home, as a New Year’s offering for good luck and fortune.  

Make Your Own Mochi 

Are you ready to make some mochi on your own? At Zojirushi, we like to make Butter Mochi, a sweet and slightly savory dessert that is made of rice flour, eggs, butter, and milk. Grab your Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme® Breadmaker BB-CEC20 or any of our other wonderful Zojirushi Home Bakery Breadmakers and get ready to indulge in this delicious sweet treat! 

How do you like to enjoy mochi at home? Do you have your own special mochi recipe that you’d like to share with us? Remember to share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan 

Cook Your Favorite Winter Meals with Zojirushi Electric Skillets

Are you looking for easy winter recipes to warm up to this season? Whether you’re cooking for one or cooking for a few, our Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillets are perfect for making all kinds of easy meals and snacks – from hearty soups, grilled meats, hot pot, and even desserts. Today, we’ll be sharing our ultimate recipe guide to our favorite electric skillet dishes for the winter, from sukiyaki, fondue, pasta dishes, and more. Let’s get cooking! 

If you need an introduction to our electric skillet line, make sure to read our product guide here to learn more. 

Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-PBC10 

This single pan, multifunctional electric skillet features a deep dish ideal for soups and stews and a wide 10-½” surface great for grilling and sautéing. If you have a Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-PBC10, bookmark these recipes:  

Vegetarian Miso Nabe 

This nabe, or hot pot, combines carrots, shiitake mushrooms, green chard and vegetable based meatballs cooked in a delightful umami-rich miso broth. It is truly filling and easy to prepare! 

Japanese Curry Nabe 

Serve up this delicious soup with chicken drumsticks and vegetables cooked in curry-based soup with garlic, soy sauce and chicken broth. A nutritious meal that’s subtle yet perfectly aromatic. 

Soothing Chicken Congee

This divine take on a comforting classic is packed with nutrients from antioxidant-rich turmeric and ginger. 

Chocolate Fondue 

For all who have a sweet tooth, enjoy dipping fruits, baked treats, marshmallows, and pretzels dipped in chocolate with this chocolate fondue recipe.  

Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet for Yin Yang Hot Pot EP-PFC20 

The Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet is a multi-functional electric skillet with two cooking pans; a deep pan with a divider for Yin Yang hot pot, and a dual surface griddle pan for grilling meats and vegetables. If you’re in the mood for a comforting hot pot dinner, try these recipes: 

Kimchi Hot Pot and Yosenabe 

Have the best of both worlds and try these two hot pot soups side by side! For the yosenabe (pictured left), we cook a light soup base with different meats, seafoods, and veggies, and enjoy with a ponzu-based dipping sauce. For the kimchi hot pot (pictured right), we cook pork belly and veggies in a kimchi soup base, or make it vegetarian by swapping out the pork with mushrooms. It’s a savory hot pot with a kick! 

Sichuan Hot Pot and Three Delicacies Hot Pot 

If you love Chinese style hot pot, make your own with a Sichuan soup base and your choice of vegetables (pictured left). This one will be spicy and numbing – great for spicy food lovers! For the Tree Delicacies hot pot (pictured right), another traditional Chinese hot pot, gather the main ingredients: meat, veggies, and seafood. You can’t go wrong! 

Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-RAC50 

The EP-RAC50 Electric Skillet is a truly versatile electric skillet that can do it all – with an ultra-deep dish for soups, a flat grilling plate for stir frying and grilling, and a steaming plate that adjusts to two different heights. Here are our top electric griddle recipes: 

Sukiyaki 

Sukiyaki is a popular Japanese recipe that is often cooked and served at-the-table. Common ingredients include beef, tofu, negi (green onion), leafy vegetables, shiitake mushrooms and shirataki noodles. Have fun cooking and eating at-the-table! 

Oden

Oden is a classic Japanese stew with a variety of ingredients cooked in clear soy-flavored dashi broth. Commonly served from fall to winter. Daikon or fishcake are most popular, but there is no strict rule for ingredients.

Self-Serve Cheese Fondue 

The word Fondue comes from the French verb Fondre, meaning “to melt”. You can prepare everything in advance, and let guests serve themselves while you enjoy the fondue yourself! 

Cheesy Grilled Potato

The lightly peppered potato slices are grilled to perfection with an addition of smoked cheese at the end. The more cheese the better! 

Chicken Breast Cacciatore 

Cacciatore in Italian means “hunter”, which refers to a meal prepared “hunter style” with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, bell pepper and sometimes wine. Buon Appetito! 

Do you have a Zojirushi Electric Skillet at home? What are some of your favorite dishes to make during the colder months? Remember to share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan 

It's Soup Month!


It’s Happy New Year and Happy Soup Month! Are you a souper star soup lover? Try answering these Jeopardy® questions about soup and see if you are:

  1. The Campbell’s Soup® website calls this soup and a grilled cheese sandwich an unbeatable dinner combination.
  2. The New England style of this chunky seafood soup, is made with fresh littlenecks.
  3. It’s a thick Italian soup with vegetable, beans and bits of pasta.
  4. Bun bo hue, a spicy meat and noodle soup, is a specialty of this country.
  5. This made in America soup uses different meats and, of course, okra.
  6. The TV show in which a character says, “No soup for you.”
  7. This beet soup can be served hot or cold, but it should always be topped with sour cream.
  8. A popular soup associated with San Francisco uses this tangy bread as a bowl when serving it.
  9. Miso soup sometimes has cubes of this as one of its ingredients.

    (Too easy, right? Answers at the bottom if you need it.)

Being Japanese, I love miso soup best. And I’m not that picky about it, but with the many kinds of miso paste available and the different kinds of ingredients you can put into it, the varieties can be extensive. When I was growing up there were only three main types: RED (aka miso), WHITE (shiro miso), and BLENDED (awase miso). But today they are classified by ingredients, taste, color and region, so that means there are a lot of brands. I’m not going to get into a miso tutorial, but I know that the red miso is characterized by a strong, intense flavor, and it seems to go best with the heavier foods. Our local tonkatsu (pork cutlet) restaurant would always serve aka miso soup. White miso, on the other hand, is mildly sweet and a lot of people like it for mixing in salad dressings or light sauces. And as you might guess, awase miso is the most versatile miso and what we used to make our tonjiru (pork and vegetable miso soup) at home. You talk about a meal in itself, be sure to sprinkle the spicy shichimi togarashi (7 spice blend) on it for that extra kick.

Another popular soup at my house is Hawaiian Chicken Long Rice. (who woulda guessed that?) Treat yourself to a luau in Hawaii or go to the nearest “local” foods restaurant and see if they have this on their menu. It’s really pretty simple to make, so you can probably do it yourself with a decent recipe. It’s only chicken broth, bean thread noodles, shredded chicken, minced garlic, ginger and chopped green onions. Some people like it soupier than others, but either way it’s sometimes a chore trying to pick up those slippery noodles! It never fails to splash back into the bowl and cause a spattered mess when I eat it. Do not attempt to eat Chicken Long Rice with chopsticks unless you’re an experienced user…you have been warned.

By now you might have guessed that my favorite soups sorta reflect my background. Yep—Japanese, Hawaiian and American. And I’m partial to chowder type American soups more than chicken noodle or vegetable broth. Clam chowder is great, but you can’t beat Corn Chowder, with chunks of potato, bacon and the sweetness of corn. It’s got to be thick enough to stand a cracker in, and dressed with black pepper before spooning it. So good!

By the way, when soup gets this thick, how come it isn’t a “stew” already? What’s the difference? Why is chili a soup on the menu anyway? Can we discuss some of these burning questions? According to some experts, the main difference is the amount of liquid that’s used—stews usually contain less of it, and the amount of time a soup is simmered, causing the liquid to thicken and lessen, it becomes more of a stew. OK, that makes sense, but where does that leave chowder, or chili? By definition, soups are made primarily with broth or water, which is how chowder is made, and why it’s called a very thick soup. By that definition, chili isn’t really a soup because the water content is low, but restaurants don’t know where to put it so it’s always under “soups”. Both soups and stews are considered comfort foods that are eaten out of bowls, even chili. But if you’re from Hawaii, you eat chili on a mound of rice, on a plate.

Have a warm Soup Month, everyone. Make some soup and load up your Zojirushi Food Jar to go!

1.Tomato 2.Clam Chowder 3.Minestrone 4.Vietnam 5.Gumbo 6.Seinfeld® 7.Borscht 8.Sourdough 9.Tofu
Did you remember to answer in the form of a question?

 
 

Products used in this post: ZOJIRUSHI x HELLO KITTY® Stainless Steel Food Jar SW-EAE50KT, Stainless Steel Food Jar SW-EAE50

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2022

 
 

Meet the Zojirushi Micom Water Boiler & Warmer CD-NAC40/50

Micom Water Boiler & Warmer CD-NAC40/50

It’s officially winter, which means it’s time to curl up with a hot beverage or meal to get cozy for the holiday season. With the Zojirushi Micom Water Boiler & Warmer CD-NAC40/50, you can prepare a variety of delicious winter foods and beverages at the touch of a button – from hot teas, quick stews, and instant foods like ramen or oatmeal – making it the perfect winter companion for your home or office. Get to know this popular water boiler in our complete breakdown below and learn how to prepare some of our favorite water boiler recipes, too!

Design & Functionality

The Micom Water Boiler & Warmer features a sleek, contemporary design that comes in a Metallic Black color and in a 4 or 5 liter size. Made for your convenience, the water boiler features a swivel base for easy serving, an easy-to-read wide window water level gauge to show you how much water you have in your water boiler, and a detachable power cord to avoid any tangles when storing.

LCD display shows actual water temperature at all times

There are four keep warm temperature settings that you can set your water heater to, which are 160°F, 175°F, 195°F and 208°F. Not to mention, there is a Quick Temp mode, which reaches 160°F, 175°F or 195°F temperature settings without boiling, shortening your waiting time. Because this water boiler has a micro computerized temperature control system, the LCD display shows accurate water temperatures at all times, and also has an energy-saving timer function between 6-10 hours. You can use this feature to set up a delay timer to boil your water later, by simply pressing the “timer” button.

Swivel base for serving convenience

As always, safety is a top priority for us in our design process, and this Micom water boiler has an auto shut-off feature that prevents water from boiling dry, an automatic dispense lock, and all surfaces that come into contact with food or water are BPA-free.

 Use & Care

To use these water boilers, simply fill the water to your desired level of water by referencing the clear water level lines on the inner container of the pot. Close the lid, select your desired temperature, and wait for the water boiler to work its magic! When the warm water has reached your desired temperature setting, the machine will let you know it’s ready by serenading you with a melody. Now all you have to do is press “unlock” and then “dispense” to dispense your water. Note that to use Café Drip mode for drip coffee, simply press the unlock button twice before dispensing.

This water heater features a nonstick coated interior that makes it easier to clean and a detachable lid that you can clean separately. See the water boiler in action:

 

Easy Water Boiler Recipes

If you’re looking for some easy water boiler recipes, look no further. Here are some of our top recipes you can enjoy for the holidays, and all year long:

Silky Milky Oolong Tea

  • Silky Milky Oolong Tea – this sweet and creamy tea features a robust taste of oolong. Drink it for a pleasant boost of caffeine and comfort.
  • Spiced Rooibos Tea – when you’re looking to wind down, indulge in this cinnamon-spiced caffeine-free tea that’s rich in antioxidants.

Green Tea Chicken Stew

Do you have a Zojirushi water boiler at your home or office? What’s your favorite thing to make with your water heater? Remember to share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

A Guide to Tea Rooms Around the World: Tea Culture & Tradition

Tea has a special place in many countries’ cultures. Discovered thousands of years ago in China, the dried leaves of the camellia sinensis shrub have since traveled to every corner of the globe, shaping customs and traditions while connecting people at a physical, spiritual and emotional level. From how it’s served to what’s in the teapot, here are some things you should know about how our all-time favorite beverage is enjoyed around the world.

In China, tea culture is steeped in tradition.

China is the birthplace of tea and has a rich history of tea culture. The story goes that tea was first brewed in China around 2727 BC, when Emperor Shen Nong was boiling water when several leaves from an overhanging tree blew into the pot. The emperor loved the flavor, color and aroma of the accidental mixture, so he shared it with the rest of China. It quickly became a household staple, and the rest is history. Chinese people have long believed that drinking tea can aid both physical and mental health, and China remains one of the largest producers of tea worldwide today – Chinese tea ranges from green, black, oolong, pu’er tea, and much more.

The gong fu tea ceremony is one of the most famous ceremonies in China and is still practiced today. It involves the ceremonial preparation of oolong tea and serving it to guests as a sign of respect and can take anywhere from 20-25 minutes.

Tea is highly esteemed in Japan.

Like China, the tea ceremony in Japan has been practiced for thousands of years as well. Some believe it dates to 1200 AD. There are different kinds of teas that enjoyed in Japan, from ochazuke (meaning “tea poured over”), which involves pouring hot water over dried seaweed or rice; matcha (a powdered green tea), which is served with sweets like mochi or wagashi; sencha (a green tea), which can also be mixed with soy sauce or honey; genmaicha (roasted brown rice mixed with green tea); hojicha (green tea roasted over charcoal). However, in Japanese tea ceremonies, the main tea used is powdered green tea, or natsume.

Usually, Japanese tea ceremonies are held in tea houses located inside of or near a garden, to encourage calm and serenity. The tea room, or tatami room, will feature tatami floors and all the equipment needed for the ceremony: a tea whisk, tea bowl, tea scoop, tea container, sweets (which are usually enjoyed right before the tea), a plate, a kettle, and brazier.

India produces more tea than any other country in the world.

India is the world’s largest producer of tea by volume, and though it grows many global tea brands, most of India’s tea is enjoyed within the country itself. India is known for teas that are exclusively grown in the country, such as assam, Darjeeling, and of course, masala chai (spiced tea).

Chai has become a way of life in many parts of India, where it’s sold on trains and streets by “chai wallahs” (tea vendors) who chant “garam chai garam chai” (hot tea). It’s one of the most recognizable Hindi words for foreigners visiting India, and many families and vendors will have their own special recipe.

Chai lattes have gained popularity in recent years in the west, sweetened with milk and sugar and infused with spices like cinnamon or ginger. Note that for authentic Indian chai, it will be made with cardamom pods, in addition to other spices like cloves, ginger, and black peppercorns.

The British Afternoon Tea

Did you know that tea is considered the national drink of England? Traditionally a luxury item reserved for the wealthy, tea has now become a part of daily life, especially black tea.

The original British afternoon tea consisted of a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones served with cream and jam, cakes, and pastries. You can still find afternoon tea services at many hotels and tea houses across the country, but many people will simply enjoy a pleasant cup of tea at home, with a biscuit or two.

Enjoy Tea with Zojirushi

If you’re looking for a convenient way to brew your tea and keep it warm, for yourself or for a tea party, our Zojirushi Thermal Carafes are the perfect vessels for tea time, anytime. Featuring stainless steel interiors, which makes them durable and easy to clean, our vacuum insulation keeps the heat in longer than other types of insulation, so your tea will stay hot even after hours. You’ll never have to worry about drinking cold tea again!

How do you like to enjoy your tea at home? Have you ever hosted a tea party before? Remember to share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan