Mochi coup – how a Japanese ultra-snack went global

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Japan has known the delicacies of mochi for over a thousand years. But these small steamed rice flour bites have managed to remain a niche treat only found elsewhere in the world in specialty food stores until recently. What has happened since has gone from a buzz to a craze.

“There’s something about the texture that people love,” says Jason Le, co-founder of the mochi donut shop Dochi in the United States. “It’s soft, sticky, chewy and gooey.”

French brand Exquis Mochi makes mochi ice cream

Mochi refers to rice flour that is steamed and used for various foods: the most famous is mochi daifuku with the sweet filling. But there is also the ozoni, the mochi transformed into small balls to eat in a miso soup. And the dango, mochi-like balls stuck on skewers and dipped in a sauce.

“Mochi is really bubbling now,” says Mathilda Motte, founder of the upscale Parisian mochi store La Maison du Mochi. “In France, we see shops opening in Aix, Lille, Bordeaux and Paris.

My / Mochi's Mango Mochi Double Chocolate Ice Cream

My / Mochi’s Mango Mochi Double Chocolate Ice Cream

Traditional Japanese toppings include matcha, sesame, yuzu, taro, and kidney beans, but so far Western audiences have turned to sweeter versions: ice cream, donuts, cookies, and even versions. cannabis candy. “The flavors of taro or red beans are very specific, they are not that sweet and often not well received by the Western palate,” explains Arthur Saada, founder of the French brand of mochi ice cream Exquis Mochi.

“We decided to go with flavors that we know as people,” agrees Russell Barnett, managing director of the American mochi ice cream company My / Mochi Ice Cream. Barnett’s ice cream, a bite-sized scoop wrapped in sweet rice dough, has been available in the United States since 2017. Cookies and cream, double chocolate, s’mores, strawberry and mango are some of its favorites. customer base. The My / Mochi factory produces about 550 scoops of mochi ice cream per minute, Barnett estimates.

Little Moons is a British manufacturer of mochi ice cream

Little Moons is a British manufacturer of mochi ice cream

The texture of the mochi has also been adapted to other desserts. Jason Le de Dochi sells donut rings made from mochi and coated with Matcha Oreo, Cookies and Cream, Twix and M & Ms. “We like to include ideas from anywhere,” he says. These Western adaptations have sometimes aroused the ire of purists. “I once got a call from someone asking if I was Japanese or if someone on my team was,” says Motte, “but I don’t claim to be. Mine is a French version of Japanese mochi.

The Mochi gel-like texture is not to everyone’s liking and can pose a choking hazard if steamed inappropriately or consumed too quickly. “It’s an unusual texture, it takes a while to get used to it,” admits Vivien Wong, co-founder of Little Moons, a UK-based mochi ice cream. “But there is a culture change. People are increasingly accepting the mochi texture. It’s like sushi. In the 1990s, people thought it was weird to eat raw fish.

Sundae School launched cannabis lychee, dragon fruit and yuzu mochi candies
Sundae School launched cannabis lychee, dragon fruit and yuzu mochi candies

In California, a group of four Asian-American entrepreneurs behind clothing retailer Sundae School found a way to bring together tradition and originality by launching cannabis-infused lychee, dragon fruit and yuzu mochi candies.

“Why not play with the texture and wrap all that flavor in a candy that’s no bigger than a quarter?” ”Asks the brand’s co-founder, Dae Lim, who adds that mochi is vegan and low in calories, key elements for its target audience.

Lim’s 250,000 edibles sold in one week. The company plans to expand to New York and beyond with a CBD option soon. “People really go there,” he says.


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