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.
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.
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! 🙂
Tips on using your Tiger Mochi Machine
- 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.
- 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!).
- 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.