Charting life's circuitous path

Introducing Sumo (Review of Tiger Mochi Maker)


mochi 2

Sumo steaming the mochi rice.

I would like to introduce you all to Sumo, my Tiger SMJ-A18U 10-Cup (Uncooked) Rice Cake Maker.

I don’t normally name my appliances (that distinction is left to the computers in my life), but the name popped out of my mouth one day and stuck.  Sumo embodies a sumo wrestler – a very strong, rather bulky power machine that makes you happy as it defeats its opponent. (This time unsuspecting rice, next the world!)

My hubby generously bought me Sumo for my birthday.  I had wishfully listed it on my Amazon wishlist, but I didn’t seriously think he’d buy it. For one, it’s a bit expensive (clocking in at around $200) and it’s a bit novelty (I mean, how many people do you know have mochi machines?).

But it’s one of the best presents!  😀

I love mochi.  I love everything about it from its uniquely soft, chewy texture to its sweet filling.  I love how you can eat it fresh without any fillings or plop a round into soup.  I love how it signifies everything I love about being Japanese American – it’s a bit different, wonderfully unique, but oh so subtly sweet.

I took Sumo down from its cozy spot on top of my fridge and loaded it up in my trunk this weekend to test it out with my family.  Everyone was also excited to welcome a mochi machine into the family since we all gleefully gobble it up whenever my mom makes a batch from mochiko flour.  I tend not to buy the store kind since it always seems to lack that certain something compared to my mother’s.  This time, though, we were going to make it straight from rice, do not stop at Go.

According to the directions, you soak your premeasured rice in water for 6 – 12 hours.  I carefully gave the instructions to my mother the night before.  She had bought a special bag of mochi rice for me and she woke early the next morning, anxious to get the rice started.  The mochi rice is slightly rounder and fatter than regular white rice.  Each shiny grain looked swollen and almost translucent when I drained and shook the water out 8 hours later.  The rice still had to sit for 30 minutes before we could place it into the maker along with the measured amount of fresh water and the impeller.

The mochi rice being "pounded" the second time.

The mochi rice being “pounded” the second time.

We set it steaming and waited.  Every now and then we would crowd around the machine and just watch as the plastic lid puffed steam.  After about 20 minutes, we grew bored and moved away, every once in a while sneaking back to “check” on it like a sleeping newborn.

Once it buzzed us into excited action (a very loud and continuous buzzer marks the end of the steaming), we hit the pound button and waited with baited breath.  The machine instantly started to vibrate and shake the stove underneath.  The rice wasn’t moving but we were certain that it was working – just really slowly.  After the instructed ten minutes, we turned it off and furrowed our brows.  It looked different (each grain now a bit squished), but it didn’t look anything like mochi.  I grabbed it and plopped it onto the corn starch prepared dish and immediately knew it wasn’t done.  It looked like rice that had been boiled a bit too long and poked at a bit too much by a petulant 5 year old.

With two university brains and one field experienced brain pondering the problem (my mother remembers pounding mochi with the traditional stick in her childhood), we decided to dump it back in, upside down this time, and add a bit more water.

What a difference!  Now the ball of rice was being whipped back and forth and spun within an inch of its previously granular life.  The grains disappeared and the surface began to smooth, glisten and soften.  After a  bit more water and a bit more pounding, our mochi was done.  Total processing time: 50 minutes.

Sometimes it’s good to take risks.  If I hadn’t been with my family, I might not have plopped the undone rice back in for further pounding.  I might not have added quite so much water.  I definitely wouldn’t have had as much fun.  The mochi was delicious!  Soft and flavorful with a heavy dose of home and family.

My mother showing us how to make daifuku.

My mother showing us how to make daifuku.

There’s something about eating food that connects you to who you are and where you come from.  The smells, the textures and the experience meld together into a round disk that packs a punch of memories each and every time.

If you like mochi, I highly recommend the Tiger mochi maker.  It does a wonderful job and while it is a bit bulky and a bit expensive, I can see myself definitely making a batch of daifuku every couple of months – not to mention the extra batches already requested from my brother and mother for new years!  🙂

Daifuku mochi with adzuki filling

Daifuku mochi with adzuki filling

Tips on using your Tiger Mochi Machine

  1. We soaked our rice for 8 hours and drained for 30 minutes and followed the steaming water directions, but the mochi was still too stiff for making daifuku.  Don’t be afraid to add more water as the mochi is being pound.  Try a tablespoon at a time until it reaches a consistency where you can grab a chunk and pinch it off easily.
  2. Don’t be afraid to flip your mochi if it isn’t being tossed within an inch of its life.  Just be sure to hit stop, flip, and definitely reinsert the impeller before hitting the pound button (but be careful – it’s hot!).
  3. Soak and wash your impeller and mochi machine bowl immediately!  I can’t stress this enough.  The mochi gets really sticky and will stick to your bowl and impeller like glue, so don’t wait until you’re done making daifuku or rolling out squares.  Definitely soak in hot water if you can’t wash everything right away.


Author: iscribbler

A girl scribbling her way through health, love, food and life.

12 thoughts on “Introducing Sumo (Review of Tiger Mochi Maker)

  1. Have you made miso with this machine yet? Or udon?
    It said at the store that it. An also make miso and udon 🙂
    Thanks for. The. Hints 🙂

  2. Another way to clean the machine is to let the Mochi dry completely on the machine. Then the residue peels off neatly! Saves water, too.

  3. Hey lovely post- do you know where I can actually buy one from Japan?P Specific name of shops that I can purchase the Mochi machine? I am interested to buy as I am planning a trip there from the UK and to bring back- many thanks

  4. I am so glad I found this post! I have been having trouble with how much water content is in the rice before I throw it in the machine. I didn’t realize it was the amount of water at first so I tried switching the paddle and the amounts of rice (I got a large Tiger without a steam button). Initially I soaked my rice for 12 hours and steamed it in a bamboo basket it smelled so good, but by the time I figured out it might be how much water is in the rice and switched the cooking method to simmering like normal, the rice had become so saturated that when I put it in the machine it just turned to runny goo 😦 So I was wondering if I had upset the mochi gods or if it really was still water content… your blog is encouraging!! Thank you for posting your story and recipe 😀

  5. Hello! Could you please send me a copy of the instruction leaflet? I lost mine and couldn’t figure how to use this as it hasn’t been used often. If you could take a picture of everything in the package, that would be great too.
    Also, the measuring cup included is a basic rice cooker cup (3/4 cup) right?
    Thank you for any help you could extend as i am craving this seeing your pictures!!! Nice photography!

  6. Great post! I tried my first bout making genmai mochi today. It used to be able to find genmai mochi in Japan, but the only kind I find in the States is the hard one for baking or adding to nabe.

    Here’s how it went: I let it soak it for 12 hours, cooked it in my rice maker set to “gaba,” i.e., super slow to maintain maximum nutrional content, and dropped it into the mochi machine. No kidding- it was in there 90 minutes, and I actually had to push the power button as I didn’t know if it would ever stop pounding away. I added about a quarter cup brown rice flour little by little. When I ceased the pounding, I spooned it onto a sheet of wax paper, coated in brown rice flour. It looked more akin to wet biscuit dough than gelatinous rice and the divots I made for the anko after portioning soon disappeared. At this point I grew worried. Is this going to work?

    With wet hands, I spooned sweet edamame anko (from Japan) into a new thumbprint, scooped what at this point had become a rice patty into my hands and made a ball, followed by a quick dusting of kinako powder. It worked! Because the hull of the rice is more fibrous than the starchy grain in envelopes, the mochi will not be as smooth as it otherwise would using sweet white rice, nor is it as dry; even after rolling in kinako powder, it still appears to be fairly sticky inside.

    I share this little story with you in the event that it might be of use should you ever wish to try something different and because I found your entry to be most helpful! Arigatou! Happy mochi making! (^-^)/

  7. I am also interested in making udon noodles and miso with this machine, but cannot find any instructions, have you
    seen any instructions anywhere for those items???

    • It says you can make miso with it, but all I could find was the Tiger website FAQ directing you to call customer service for a recipe. Very odd! It does come with a longer impeller for miso, but no directions at all for making it. I’m sorry I can’t help you more!

  8. Hello, and walk? I hope this good.
    Information would need to buy Impeller Mochi, mochi machines have 4 stops, because I miss the Mochi Impeller. Thank you so much. My email is I congratulate you on your blog

    • Thank you for the kind comment. I hope I can reply to what I think you’re asking – the mochi maker does have an impeller, but it only has two steps: steam and pound. The unit steams the presoaked rice and then you “pound” it for about 10-20 minutes. That’s when the impeller at the bottom rotates the rice to turn it into mochi. Did this answer the question? If not, please let me know. 🙂

  9. Pingback: Ozoni – Japanese New Year’s Mochi Soup | iscribblings

  10. I hold a similar fondness and personal connection with a cooking utensil as you do with Sumo. In my case it’s a love affair with a cast iron double fry pan that I stole from my mother. She is seasoned to perfection and though she’s pushing 100 yrs old, she still has all the right moves.

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