Grilled Scallion-wrapped Mochi
I couldn't wait to make bacon-wrapped mochi earlier this year and have all my friends enjoy this soft, salty, and chewy treat that I already knew was amazing. Not to leave vegetarians out in the experience, I also made a version that wrapped the mochi in scallions instead of bacon, and the the oddest thing happened—just about everyone preferred the scallion version. I wasn't planning on sharing this on the blog, so at the time of cooking, I didn't take much care in presentation for photographs, but since it was the clear favorite, it seemed silly of me not to do a post on this variation as well, no matter how it looked in pictures.
The first thing I did in preparing to make grilled mochi is put together a tare sauce. If you're not familiar with tare, you can think of it like teriyaki, but more unique. The foundations of both sauces are very similar with soy sauce, sake, and mirin, but tare defines itself by being somewhat undefinable—each chef seasons tare their own way. For mine, I used garlic, ginger, black pepper, scallions, and vinegar to give the sauce a depth of flavor to take it a step up from teriyaki.
For the mochi, you'll want to seek out kiramochi. When I first had the idea of grilling mochi, I thought I could pick up the stuff you can find at any Asian grocery, or make it at home without adding sugar for it to be savory, but that softer mochi isn't what you want here. Instead, kiramochi comes in hard blocks that need to be cooked to become soft and edible. I looked into making this myself, but the process seemed a bit daunting, so I ended up ordering a large bag of kiramochi online instead. Once I had the mochi, I cut each brick of it into thirds to turn them into manageable, bite-sized portions.
To effectively wrap the mochi in scallions, the scallions needed to be softened first. Since I was already grilling, I saw no reason not utilize the fire to cook the scallions, which I just put directly over the flames and let cook until the dark green portions were completely tender, flipping them ever now and then for even cooking.
When done, I moved the scallions to a cutting board and removed the lighter green portion, freeing the softer ends into single strands. I then took each of those pliable scallions and wrapped them around pieces of the mochi. There was no need to secure them in any way since they clung to the mochi just fine on their own.
To cook the mochi, I put the now scallion encased blocks on the cool side of a two-zone fire and covered the grill. You're basically just looking to cook them long enough so they're soft throughout, which can be tested with a little squeeze with tongs. In the 15 minute or so it took for this to happen for me, the mochi also expanded into all manner of sizes and shapes, which was part of the fun watching it bake. In the last couple minutes of cooking, I brushed on the tare, not applied so evenly here because I wasn't thinking these needed to be picture perfect.
These didn't need to look beautiful to taste amazing though. The real star was the soft and chewy texture of the mochi, which also picked up some crispness around the exterior, adding to the great textural experience. The reason the scallion-wrapped version edged out the bacon-wrapped one was that the scallions melded better with the mochi and tasted unified together, where the bacon never let you forget it was bacon with its strong flavor and own unique texture as well. Most of the grilled mochi I've been served in the past has not been brushed with a sauce, so you can definitely skip the tare if you wanted to, but I think the saltiness and savoriness of the glaze added a lot to an already quick and easy snack that delivers a big pay off for little effort.
Grilled Scallion-wrapped Mochi
- 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
- 10-12 scallions
- 1 lb kirimochi, cut into blocks roughly 1 1/2-inches by 3/4-inch
- To make the tare sauce: 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: 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 scallions on hot side of the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until dark green sections are completely softened, but not charred, about 5 minutes total. Transfer scallions to a cutting board.
- Cut off light green end of each scallion. Wrap a dark green scallion portion around each piece of mochi. Place mochi on cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until bacon has browned and mochi has softened, about 15 minutes. Brush mochi with tare sauce all over, cover grill, and continue to cook for about 2 minutes more. Transfer mochi to a serving platter and serve immediately.