Photos and Words by Fred Chang
I absolutely love mochi. Mochi, for those who don’t know, is a Japanese rice cake, almost like a less-sweet, more chewy marshmallow, that is both gluten free and vegan. It has been gaining a lot of popularity, especially in my native Los Angeles. Whenever I cook, I always try to find new ways to make old dishes unique, whether it be the technique to make said dish or even the ingredients being used. The dough, while not vegan, is most certainly gluten-free, and despite pre-conceived notions of how that may sound, is actually quite delicious, boasting the chewiness of mochi against a crispy, fried exterior, and a sweet and tangy glaze.
Growing up surrounded by Japanese supermarkets, Calpico water was something that I came to love. Milky in appearance but tangy and refreshing in flavor, it is extremely distinct beverage that is almost like a thinner, lighter version of kefir, or liquid yogurt. However, what makes Calpico water such an interesting ingredient is the crisp, refreshing after-taste of it, making it a nice contrast to the fried dough.
Makes about 8 doughnuts, depending on the size of the cookie cutters being used
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup mochiko rice flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon canola oil + more for frying
1/4 cup mochiko rice flour
1/4 cup water
For the mochi base, mix together ingredients and microwave for about 1 minute in a microwave-safe container; the final result should be a gelatinous, sticky, but somewhat solid mixture with the consistency of wet clay.
For the additional ingredients, sift the mochiko, baking powder, and salt and be sure to mix to properly incorporate the ingredients. Crack an egg into a mixing bowl. Finally, fold together with the mochi starter to form a solid dough. Continue kneading the dough mixture until it forms a smooth ball; there should be no more lumps at all!
Roll the dough to about a 1/2” thick, and using two differently sized cookie cutters, punch out the doughnuts, and their holes. Fry in canola or vegetable oil, heated to about 350°F, for about 2 minutes on each side. The finished doughnut should be golden-brown. Carefully but quickly, strain the doughnuts from the hot oil, dry on a paper towel, and while the doughnuts are still at least lukewarm, glaze (recipe below). Allow to cool on the drying rack with the glaze.
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup Calpico water
Cream together equal parts of butter and sugar. Once creamed, slowly stir in the Calpico water, followed by folding in the rest of the sugar. The glaze can be made ahead of time, and can be stored in a container firmly covered in plastic wrap -- placing wrap directly onto the glaze, in the refrigerator for a week.