Taro mochi is a traditional ‘wagashi’ or Japanese treat that is usually eaten during the New Year festivities. We highly recommend this delicious Asian snack. You can try making the supple rice cakes with a sweet paste filling inside them using the simple recipe below.
What is taro?
Taro is a root plant that is a food staple in many countries in Asia, Oceania and Africa. It is packed with essential nutrients and is a versatile cooking ingredient. We can use it for dessert fillings or paste as a side dish, used as the base vegetable of Indian curries or even sliced to be made into fries.
In recent years, we observe the root vegetable growing in popularity as an ingredient in making bubble tea. Among the Japanese, bakers have creatively devised taro mochi as a flavour variant to their traditional dessert.
What is mochi?
Mochi is made of ‘mochigome’ or short-grain Japanese glutinous rice. The rice cake is customarily made during the ‘Mochitsuki’ ceremony where the rice is pounded over and over using a wooden pallet into a soft consistent paste.
At times, the rice is mixed with salt and cornstarch to mould it into the desired texture and taste. In addition to the plain rice cake, we find that this delicate treat is usually matched with another ingredient to add vibrancy to its taste.
Therefore, you will easily find mochi with matcha, sakura or lotus fillings as common shelf choices in Japanese supermarkets. Naturally, we observe that taro mochi has also grown to become a standard dessert flavour today.
What does taro mochi taste like?
The taro mochi taste or ‘geschmack’, like how our German friends would say it, is something that we all wonder about before trying it. Let’s break it down.
Plain mochi by itself usually has a subtle sweetness to it. During the process of making it into a soft and chewy cake, salt is added to activate the taste of the glutinous rice. We feel that this makes the sweetness of the rice more apparent.
Even when eating plain, you will be able to enjoy its pleasant taste. However, we would like to highlight that the dessert’s primary excellence comes from its texture. It has a floaty yet firm feeling when bitten into and chewed.
Hence, making the whole experience of eating the Japanese treat fully satisfactory if not orgasmic.
As taro is added to the glutinous rice, a marvellous taro mochi taste is produced. When we make it into a paste, we release and spread the umami of the root plant consistently throughout the mixture.
If you try it, you will notice that the taro gives out a mildly sweet and nutty flavour which resonates well with mochi. We also enjoy the starchiness of the root vegetable which adds a unique texture to its eating experience.
Taro Mochi Snacks
With the growing popularity of the treat, we are not surprised that a variety of Japanese snacks have adopted this yummy flavour.
Firstly, is the Royal Family Taro Mochi which is perhaps its most conventional form. Suitable a gift to present to others, we recommend you try this nibble as an after-meal treat or afternoon tea snack.
The rice dumpling has a sweet filling while the outside skin is powdered with starch powder. We believe this would be a great starting point to familiarise yourself with the taro mochi taste.
Furthermore, you can also find taro mochi ice cream as well as mochi taro rice crackers. We think these delicacies are perfect for those who want a treat that is not too sweet for the palette.
Easy Taro Mochi Recipe using Milk Tea Powder
For those who prefer to make their own snack, we include an easy recipe to try at home. We understand that many may not usually buy the fresh ground root. Because of that, you can use milk tea powder which you can buy from supermarkets or online stores.
Taro Mochi Recipe
- 1 cup sweet rice flour
- 1 tablespoon taro milk tea powder (as used to make bubble tea)
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup sugar (usually white sugar)
- ½ cup taro paste
- ¼ teaspoon potato starch (for dusting)
- Mix the sweet rice flour, milk tea powder and sugar in a medium bowl. Add water little by little and combine thoroughly every time. This will become your mochi mix.
- Then, spread the mixture in a 9x11 inch glass baking dish or any microwaveable dish. Make sure to cover the mix with plastic wrap.
- For 4 minutes, microwave the mixture on the ‘high’ setting. Then, take off the plastic wrap and let it sit to cool for about 4 to 5 minutes. We want to cool the mix slightly.
- Once the mix is cool enough for us to handle, cut the mochi into 12 large squares of about 2 inches on each side.
- Pick up one square at a time, and place ½ teaspoon of sweet paste into the centre of the square. After that, pick up up the edges of the square and fold it over the paste to seal it inside the rice dumpling. Gently mould the dumpling into a nicely shaped ball. Finally, sprinkle and dust some of the potato starch on the ball. This is to prevent the ball from easily sticking. Repeat this for all 12 squares.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
You can also use different types of filling such as red azuki bean filling. Feel free to be creative in your preparing your delicious snack!
Is Taro Mochi Healthy?
As with any treat, finding a spot for it in a well-balanced diet is important. However, we would like to highlight a few nutritional benefits that would be good for you to consider.
Taro as a starchy ground root has many health benefits. Some of them include improving digestion and lowering blood sugar levels. We also read that it is good for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular function and more.
It naturally contains high levels of vitamin C, B6 and E that is important for our immune system. You can also find studies that show the root vegetable helps in eliminating free radicals in the body.
Eating mochi, on the other hand, has its health advantages. Due to the process of making the Japanese rice cake, it is gluten-free. We also read that it is cholesterol-free and has a higher protein content compared to other short-grain rice.
Having said that, we have to be careful when eating taro mochi. We have found many reports, in Japan especially, of people choking when eating the snack. Because of its sticky nature, a lack of thorough chewing may cause a risk of choking.
We should be careful to make sure we chew the tasty treat properly before swallowing the sticky snack.
Next up, try out this simple mochi recipe that you can make using a microwave or steamer!
Super yummy - used blended taro root instead of the milk tea powder, but the result was still delicious!
I'm really surprised at how quick this was to make! I added about 1 tsp sugar as it's not as sweet as I want it to be. This is going to save a lot of trips to my local Chinese supermarket.