Ah, mochi. The pillowy, glutinous rice dessert of Japan. Let me know if you can relate, but it is one of my wildest aspirations to be able to jump in/eat a bounce house made of mochi, so if any of you know how to make that happen drop me a line—I’m ready to live out my dreams. But besides knowing it as a delicious dessert, snack, and bouncy-house building material, many people (even those who have had mochi or mochi ice cream) don’t really know what it is. But don’t worry, that’s why you’re here, so let’s get rice into it and answer the question: What is mochi ice cream?
First, what is mochi?
On its own, mochi is a sweet, chewy rice cake made with glutinous rice. Traditionally, it’s made by pounding sticky rice called mochigome in a ceremony called mochitsuki. Check out this insane (but very informative) video to see what I mean. Most of the mochi we are getting in the states, though, is instead made with with glutinous rice flour (or mochi flour/mochiko). And don’t worry, it’s not called glutinous rice flour because it contains gluten. In fact, mochi is rice-based and therefore generally gluten-free. The “glutinous” part of the name comes from its glue-like, sticky texture.
What is mochi ice cream made of?
Mochi ice cream, which you can find in most major grocery stores these days, is a thin layer of the aforementioned mochi wrapped around a little ball of ice cream (of any flavor), like the world’s cutest and most pastel-colored ice cream dumpling of sorts. They usually come in packs of six or eight, depending on their size, and as much as I love them, my weak, weak, li’l teeth struggle with cold foods. But as any therapist or dentist will tell you, “Sensitivity isn’t weakness, Jessica, just bite it with your back teeth!” Luckily, you can get mochi with non-ice cream fillings, too, like red bean paste, black sesame paste, peanut butter, strawberry cream, matcha cream, mango cream—you name it, there is a mochi out there for you.
But now that we’ve covered what mochi ice cream is, I absolutely want some matcha mochi ice cream (Sporked recommends Mikawaya!). And I know I said I struggle to eat these things, but, hey, this stuff is so good I’m able to muster up some mochismo and get through the tooth pain.