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Mochi Pounding

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The community got together to cook and create rice cakes (mochi) out of the rice we harvested from the school rice paddy four months ago in October. The day involved taking out the rice, which was steamed and soaked overnight in the school kitchen, and then consistently mashing it with wooden mallets and mortars until it became a giant sticky blob. The students took turns holding the mallets, while parents and older siblings helped shape and keep the rice moist between pounding. The process is time consuming and physically tiring, which is why modern day mochi-making can be done through rice-cooker like machines. When I was younger, every year we took the cooked rice and funneled it into a machine that spit out a constant stream of fresh mochi which eliminated the pounding process entirely. After pounding, rolling pins were used to stretch out the mochi dough and the students cut up the dough into smaller squares. The dough was ready to eat immediately, so after cutting up the entire batch of dough, we sat down and ate a fresh homemade mochi lunch with soup and drinks.