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Isobe Yaki or Norimaki Mochi Recipe

Mochi is delicious no matter how it is prepared, and it doesn’t need to be dressed up fancy to be thoroughly enjoyed. Despite the beautiful ways of turning mochi into sweet and artful wagashi, mochi is enjoyed in simpler ways, too. Like the American version of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, norimaki mochi often was thrust into the hands of children hungry for a snack between meals. Quick, easy and satisfying.

Today, a few restaurants are serving their versions of isobe yaki mochi but it really isn’t high cuisine at all. It is both table food and road food, depending on how it is served. Begin with already prepared mochi, store bought for convenience. Here is the basic technique along with my favorite which uses teriyaki sauce! I must confess that my version is not completely traditional. The classic Japan version does not add any sugar at all. Try it both ways to see which you prefer.

Traditional Isobe Yaki

white plain mochi or kirimochi
¼ cup soy sauce
nori sheets sliced into strips

Over a low flame, grill pieces of mochi until puffy and browned in spots. If mochi is especially dry, consider using a microwave first. Wrap a wet paper towel around kirimochi and microwave on low for about 10 seconds. Unwrap and continue to grill over a flame or in an oiled frying pan. The mochi needs to be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Place this hot mochi in the center of a strip of nori sheet. Drizzle with shoyu and wrap up the mochi in the nori. Enjoy. Also, you make wrap the mochi in the nori without the shoyu and then dip the mochi into the soy sauce as you eat it. This way, the liquid will not dribble out.

There are other renditions of isobe yaki or norimaki mochi. Here is my father's and my favorite. We called it teriyaki mochi because we used a teriyaki sauce (shoyu and sugar).

Norimaki Mochi

white plain mochi or kirimochi
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup granulated sugar, optional
¼ cup grated daikon, optional
1 tsp. toasted goma (sesame seeds), optional
nori sheets cut in half

In a small dish, blend together the shoyu and sugar. It will be grainy so continue mixing until the sugar is absorbed. You can heat this mixture in a small pot or in the microwave to hasten this process. Next, toast the nori sheets by carefully fanning them over an open flame until they get crispy. Toast the mochi over an open flame until puffy and golden brown in spots. Another option is to place the mochi in a hot frying pan, turning it once until done on both sides. Again, the key is to crisp the outside while softening the inside of the mochi.

Place the mochi in the center of a toasted nori sheet. Drizzle on the shoyu-sugar mixture and wrap up the mochi in the nori to make a tidy package. Enjoy!

If you have the inclination to dabble with the condiments, it can get even better. Option #1: Blend grated daikon into shoyu and dunk the nori-wrapped mochi into this dip.
Option #2: Sprinkle on toasted goma (sesame seeds) on the mochi before wrapping in the nori. But no matter how you make this, isobe yaki or norimaki mochi is sure to be one of your favorite ways to eat mochi.

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