Throughout my life, when I heard the term "Mochi", I always related the term with a food. Mochi as a food is wonderful, if not, a masterpiece. Because of the chewy texture, a variety of fillings inside, including red bean, ice cream and much more, Mochi has been my go-to food whenever I needed something sweet.

But, oh boy, was I wrong. During January, I had a chance to try some traditional Japanese New Year food, and I was shocked to find out that Mochi was actually a food that you eat, and it is actually to call these Mochi.

What you have been eating all along 

Molly Gallagher

So yes, the delicious, chewy and sweet food that satisfied your taste buds all along aren’t technically called Mochi. All along, when you ordered Mochi, you were actually having Daifuku, or a Yukimi Daifuku, not a Mochi. Of course, Daifuku in a broad term can be considered Mochi, as they are both made out of Glutinous (Sticky) Rice.

So what is Mochi?

Image from WikiCommons

Image from WikiCommons

While no one knows where Mochi came from, it is assumed that it is originated from China. Also, no one really knows where the name Mochi came from, some say it originated from the verb motsu, meaning "to hold", or some say it originated from the word mochizuki, meaning "full moon" in Japanese.

Regardless, Mochi in a very broad term is a rice cake that is made out of Glutinous Rice, and is pounded in a wooden mortar.  Mochi became a new years food in Japan around 794-1185, and there are historical records where the Samurais brought them to their battles due to the convenience Mochi had as a portable food.

Mochi is not unique to Japan, however, as similar rice cakes such as Tteok, Nian Gao and Palitaw can be observed around Asia.

How to eat one

Image from WikiCommons

Image from WikiCommons

Mochi as a main meal, therefore, has no fillings inside such as the ones they sell out here in Vancouver but it is rather a plain, rectangular shaped rice cake that is actually pretty hard when it is dried. While there are a lot of types of Mochi you can make and eat, I would like to introduce Ozōni, a traditional Japanese New Years food. 

While the broth can vary by region, Ozōni is a food where Japanese people eat during the new years with Mochi, vegetables, and meat. Not only is it good, but the chewy Mochi with the warm broth really makes a good start to the new year.

So here's what Mochi really is and what Mochi is not. Be careful when you eat one though, as it is actually possible to eat one and accidentally suffocate to death.