Traditional mochi was made by pounding steamed glutinous rice in a large usu (mortar) but technology makes it easy to make mochi without all the work.
There are many ways to make mochi, the sticky sweet concoction made from glutinous rice that is an important Japanese food. Traditionally, mochi-making was a community event with all the townsfolk pitching in to steam, pound and form the rice into small discs for everyone to share.
Today, busy people buy mochi for their holiday, ceremonial or every day eating at local shops or grocery stores. But it making a nice batch of homemade mochi is easier than one might think. Mochi can be made in an oven, microwave, stovetop, mochi maker, food processor or even a stand mixer. The oven, microwave and stovetop version call for rice flour, but the mochi maker, food processor and stand mixer use mochi gome or glutinous rice.
I have made all versions and each one has its benefits. Those that use rice flour produce smoother, softer textures; those that use glutinous rice require more time and effort to be sure there are no lumps. Also because the rice is boiled in the rice cooker rather than steamed in traditional fashion, its resulting texture is softer than when steamed.
By the way, mochiko is rice flour while shiratamako is glutinous rice flour. In Japan, regional variations are based on whether mochiko or shiratamako are used. Here, we tend to use them interchangeably even though there is a slight difference.
Stand Mixer or Food Processor Mochi
3 cups sweet glutinous rice
3 cups water
potato starch (katakuriko) or cornstarch
Wash the rice and drain. Soak the rice in three cups of water for one hour. Cook in an electric rice cooker. Let this steam for 20 minutes. *Wet the paddle and the bowl of a stand mixer with water. Add the rice to the mixing bowl. Turn on the mixer to slow and let it mash the rice. Use a wet rubber spatula to push the rice down the sides of the bowl. Periodically, lift the mixer paddle from the rice and use the spatula to push the unmashed rice to the center of the bowl and continue with this process until the mixture reaches a nice smooth mochi consistency. Pour this out onto a work surface powdered with potato starch or cornstarch. Form into small round discs. Store in an air-tight container.
*Food Processor: Wet the blade and bowl of a food processor. Add the hot steamed rice. Cover and pulse until the mixture reaches a nice smooth mochi consistency. Stop periodically to use a wet rubber spatula to mix the unmashed rice back to the blades of the processor. Continue as above.