Easy recipes with a big pay off bring me a lot of joy these days. I've been at recipe development for sixteen years now, and more and more, I feel like I've exhausted the basics and am constantly devising things requiring more time, ingredients, process, or all of those things. This reality has actually left me thinking about slowing my posting schedule, or even stopping, but then something like bacon-wrapped mochi comes along and reminds not everything needs to be so involved to be both super impressive and incredibly delicious.
My final recipe is actually longer than I was expecting. I had originally planned for the bacon-wrapped mochi to be two ingredients—bacon and mochi—but I loved how it tasted so much with some tare brushed on at the end of grilling that I decided t include it here, even if this sauce was originally intended for use in a separate chicken wings recipe. If you're not familiar with tare, think of it kind of like a more complex teriyaki sauce. Its foundation is a sweet and thickened soy sauce like teriyaki, but tare usually brings in extra seasonings based on each creator's personal preference. For me, I used scallions, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and white peppercorns to give my tare extra depth while it simmered down from a thin liquid to a thick glaze.
I've never grilled mochi before and was really only familiar with the sweet stuff that's readily available at Asian groceries. I knew there was a non-sweet type of mochi, but wasn't seeing it in the store and thought I would have to make my own. After some research though, I found the grill-able type of mochi is called kirimochi, and it's production is not as simple as sweet mochi, which you can make pretty easily with glutinous rice flour and liquid. So I ended up ordering a large bag of kirimochi online, and you have to excuse that, in my rush to get photos quickly during prep, I didn't stop to turn the bag right side up.
This mochi comes in small blocks and is very hard. It's definitely made for cooking and can't be eaten right out of the bag like sweet mochi. To make the right size pieces for bacon-wrapping, I cut each block of mochi into thirds.
I then wrapped half a slice of bacon around each piece of mochi, and my plan was to then skewer them. Unfortunately, skewering didn't work out—the skewer was fracturing the mochi into multiple pieces and I gave up after three tries. Not skewering them just made the recipe that much easier in the end anyway.
To cook these, I created a two-zone fire, with all of the coals situated on one side of the grilling grate. I then placed the mochi on the cool side of the grill and covered. Having the mochi on the cool side helps it cook more gently and avoids the flare-ups that would happen if the rendering fat from the bacon was dropping down right onto the coals and igniting.
After about 15 to 20 minutes, the bacon looked fully cooke and all the mochi was very soft. Some of the blocks had expanded greatly into odd shapes, but I guess that's just part of the experience. I taste tested one of the mochis in this state and it was great. I then brushed on some tare and tried another one, and it was so much better, so I then proceeded to coat all the mochis in tare before serving them to my guests.
At the end of the day, my biggest problem with these bacon-wrapped mochi was I didn't make enough of them! They were so quick and easy, with such a big payoff, I would have been better served grilling up more of them than some of my more involved recipes I was making that day. The mochi had this fantastic soft and chewy texture with some crispness mixed from exterior. The bacon added a heartiness and nice smokiness that paired really well with the sweet and savory tare. There was so much going on with these that it tasted like a lot more effort went into their production than actually did. That left me thinking that my real problem with recipe development right i thats my brain is going straight towards the more complex and totally skipping over some of the obvious easy stuff that is still ripe for new and exciting recipes. So I may need to do a little retraining to help me from burning out in the long run and also provide even more accessible grilling goodies for all of you!
- Yield 8-12 servings
- Prep 20 Minutes
- Inactive 45 Minutes
- Cook 20 Minutes
- Total 1 Hour 25 Minutes
- For the Tare Sauce
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sake
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 3 medium cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
- 3 scallions, roughly chopped
- 1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, sliced
- 1 tablespoon whole black or white peppercorns
- For the Mochi
- 1 lb kirimochi
- 2/3 lb bacon, halved
- To make the tare: Combine mirin, soy sauce, sake, brown sugar, sherry vinegar, garlic, scallions, ginger slices, and peppercorns in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer, whisk to combine, and cook until mixture is thick and syrupy, about 45 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Set aside or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the mochi: Cut mochi into blocks roughly 1 1/2-inches by 3/4-inch. Wrap a halved bacon slice around each piece of mochi.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place mochi on cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until bacon has browned and mochi has softened, 15-20 minutes. Brush mochi with tare sauce all over, cover grill, and continue to cook for about 2 minutes. Remove mochi from grill and serve immediately.