Norimaki mochi is a traditional Japanese dish of mochi (rice cake) seasoned with a sweet and savory soy glaze and wrapped in a piece of seaweed. Additional sweet soy sauce may be used as a dipping sauce for the mochi. This dish is great as a snack or can be enjoyed for breakfast or lunch.
Mochi, or rice cake, is a popular Japanese food that is available year-round but traditionally enjoyed during the colder winter months. It is especially popular towards the end of December and around the New Year’s holiday, which marks one of the biggest holiday celebrations in Japanese culture. Around this time, many families gather to hold “mochitsuki”, or a mochi-pounding ceremony, where mochi is made from steamed short-grain Japanese glutinous rice and pounded to a smooth texture and molded into round rice cakes known as “marumochi”.
Today, while some families in Japan, as well as the United States and other parts of the world, still hold mochitsuki, freshly made marumochi (rice cakes) can easily be purchased at Japanese grocery stores, especially during the winter. Note, fresh mochi only keeps for a very short period of time, but it can easily be stored in the freezer, and quickly defrosted for use.
For reference, there are two types of marumochi: sweet and unsweetened. Mochi as a dessert is more commonly known, such as ohagi or botamochi, but during the New Year, unsweetened mochi is more commonly used in dishes such as ozoni, a traditional new year soup with vegetables and rice cake, or enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or a snack as is the case with this norimaki mochi recipe.
Another type of mochi known as “kirimochi” or sometimes “kakumochi”, refers to a square or rectangular shaped mochi which is very hard and dry. It is found at most Japanese and other Asian grocery stores. It is usually preserved and sold in packages in the dry goods section.
For this norimaki mochi recipe, either marumochi or kirimochi may be used, however, I prefer fresh (or frozen) marumochi, which is what is photographed in this recipe. The mochi can either be warmed in the microwave for a soft texture, or grilled in a toaster oven for a “crunchy on the outside but soft in the middle” texture. The choice is yours!
As for the flavor profile of norimaki mochi, it is both sweet and savory as the soy sauce is mixed with sugar, either granulated white sugar or brown sugar. Depending on your palate, the amount of sugar may be adjusted or completely omitted. Finally, the seasoned mochi is wrapped in either seasoned or plain “nori” (seaweed).
- 2 pieces rice cakes (marumochi, fresh)
- 3 teaspoons soy sauce
- 3 teaspoons sugar (white, granulated, adjust to taste)
- 2 pieces nori (seasoned dried seaweed)
- Prepare the sauce. Mix soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl. Heat in microwave until sugar dissolves.
- Place fresh mochi on a plate, microwave for 15 to 30 seconds on high until it is soft and pliable but still maintains its round shape. Coat the mochi with the sweet soy sauce mixture, wrap in a piece of nori, and enjoy immediately. (Note, if you are grilling the mochi in the toaster oven, place on a piece of foil and heat for 3 to 4 minutes on high until it puffs up and the mochi is golden. Then coat with the sweet soy sauce. The mochi can also be glazed with some of the sauce before it is grilled.)
- Use additional sweet soy sauce mix to dip the mochi for added flavor.