It’s under a hundred days until we fly back to the states. Well approximately. With our situation in the military it’s tough to really predict anything. But in my hopeful life when Matt and I enjoy the Seattle summer and see my new niece or nephew as a neonate I am leaving Japan in approximately 100 days.
It’s bittersweet but necessary. My blog is not here for me to dump all the ins and outs of my emotional life but it’s lonely being so far away. Facetime is a blessing but it only works so well for me. 100 days. Hope. Perhaps in my later life, I could become an expat living in Vietnam or Australia. Not yet, not now. I feel too attached to my youth and those who were part of mine.
Living in Japan has blessed me countless ways. It’s made me much less ethnocentric. It’s made me tough. It’s made me rely on my relationship with my husband. It’s made me more intensely value those I hold close in my heart who may not realize the depth of my affection for them. It’s made me more adventurous. Most things about the experience are positive really. Thank you to all my loved ones who make an effort for us in countless ways.
Some things are technically difficult. Like waiting up until midnight to call the business that opens at 9am Pacific Time and then getting put on hold. Terrible.
And some things are mindblowing. The unagi nigiri here. Like crispy French toast melting in your mouth. The Jigokudani Monkey Park. Joy and nature that made my heart sing. Niseko. Riding through the powder on your skis and seriously everyone saying “wheeeee” in an unabashed adult kind of way.
I hold the Japanese people and their culture in high regard. They are among other things respectful, educated, and incredibly hard working. And pretty fashion forward. Their food is considered some of the highest cuisine in the world, at a level of art with French cooking.
Mochi are extremely common in Japan and are both an everyday and special occasion treat. They are a sort of dessert dumpling made of Mochiko which is a sweet rice flour. They are most often stuffed with sweet red bean paste. My take on them is perhaps a more American take on mochi as I decided to make an almond butter filling but the essence of the mochi is really in the cloudlike sweet outer layer. They are best eaten within a day of making so make sure to have some friends around to share them with.
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups Mochiko rice flour
- Corn starch for dusting
- 6 Tablespoons smooth almond butter
- 2 Tablespoons powered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon water
- Stir together almond butter, powdered sugar, and Greek yogurt. Depending on how thick your almond butter is, it will be clumpy. Add water in ½ teaspoon increments stirring well so texture will be similar to a stiff frosting.
- In a medium saucepan, add the water and sugar. Heat over low heat to dissolve sugar. Turn off heat and add rice flour, stir to combine.
- Seal bottom of steamer with parchment paper to cover all the holes. Pour rice flour mixture into steamer. It may require two layers of steamer if yours is on the smaller side.
- Steam for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. In the meantime, spoon out a generous amount of cornstarch to cover an entire sheet pan. When it is ready the texture of the mochi will be gummy and dough like, if it is not cook for another minute or two.
- Being careful not to burn yourself, immediately turn over the steamer with the wet mochi into the cornstarch with parchment paper up. Remove the parchment paper quickly while it is hot or it will set. Cover top of mochi with extra cornstarch.
- Dust hands with cornstarch and pull off 1 ¼ ounce pieces (35g). Press the mochi into disks. Scoop about ¾ teaspoon almond butter filling and place into pressed mocha. Shape into balls and seal. Place into lined mini muffin tin or small popover pan dusted with cornstarch. Allow mochi to cool and set.
- Store in sealed tin or plastic container. Do not store in refrigerator. Best within a day of preparing.