When it comes to talking about Japanese desserts, probably the first dish that comes to your mind is mochi.
From traditional ceremonies to modern functions, you will find mochi everywhere in Japan. And it has been an inseparable part of our culture and tradition since the year 749 during the Japanese Heian period.
The immense popularity of this Japanese dessert attracts many foreign tourists and visitors to taste this pure delicacy.
But those who are health-conscious often ask, “is mochi healthy?”
Well, today, I will answer it elaborately, but before that, if you don’t know what mochi is, let me give a brief on it.
What Is Mochi?
Mochi is a traditional Japanese rice cake made from sweet rice flour. It has a stringy texture with a sweet taste.
Though peanut is traditionally used as its filling, nowadays, the filling has become versatile with strawberry, chocolate, peanut butter, and so on.
Besides the variation in the filling, you will also find a variety of flavors in Japanese mochi, such as green tea, served with ice cream, or as a savory meal wrapped in dried seaweed and served with soy sauce.
The origin of this glutinous rice cake is related to the Shinto religion, where mochis are offered to the Gods, asking for happy marriages and good fortune.
It is also an important part of the Japanese new year meal.
Now that you got a clear concept of mochi, let’s get to the main point.
Is Mochi Healthy?
The answer is absolutely yes!! Mochi is a healthy and versatile Japanese dessert commonly consumed as a part of the diet in Japan.
The ingredients used to make mochi are good for our health, and so is the mochi.
Are you curious to know the details? Okay, now I am going to enlighten you about that.
Health Benefits of Mochi
As I said earlier, mochi was offered to Gods. So in the past, it was considered food for the Gods and used in religious offerings.
But later, when rice farmers discovered that mochi is ideal for increasing their stamina, since then, it has been especially popular among them.
Samurai also found this food helpful for the same reason and the ease of its convenience.
Another significant benefit of Mochi is that it is incredibly filling. And to replace an entire bowl of rice, you only need a small matchbox-sized portion.
Apart from that, this Japanese rice cake is extremely healthy as it is one of the few carbohydrate sources packed with protein.
It is made of glutinous rice, cornstarch, and sugar.
The short-grain japonica glutinous rice usually used to make mochi, has high nutritional value. Besides carbohydrates, it has a higher protein content than other short-grain rice.
What makes mochi even healthier is that it is gluten-free and also free of cholesterol.
The reason behind it is the method of preparation, where the rice is steamed, pounded into flour, and then shaped.
44 grams or one single serving of mochi has a total of 96 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein, 1.0 mg of sodium, 6.0 g of sugar, 1.0 g of fat, and zero trans or saturated fat.
And when we combine it with seaweed, it also becomes rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K. It is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, and manganese as well.
For its extensive health value, we Japanese often enjoy mochi as our evening snacks, as it is easy to make at home.
When I have let you know about its health benefits, it might be difficult for you to believe that mochi can sometimes be dangerous and life-threatening.
Yes, you heard it right. But the fact is it is not the ingredients where the danger lies. Instead, it comes from the texture of the dish, which tends to be sticky.
Check out the following section to know the details.
Why Is Mochi Dangerous to Eat?
Mochi is healthy and delicious, but it can also be deadly if you do not follow proper procedures while eating it.
I am saying this because of its glutinous makeup. Besides, it has a dense, thick, and sticky texture that can cause choking.
Young children and elderly citizens are especially susceptible to this. They should avoid consuming mochi altogether.
You can be surprised to know that a number of accidents and even deaths occur due to mochi every year in Japan. And it tends to be so severe that Japanese officials issue necessary warnings every year on the right way of eating mochi and what to do in case of choking.
When people overeat too quickly without maintaining proper eating procedures, choking usually happens at that time.
According to Japanese official advice, you should bend over the victim, hit hard on his back, and hold his lower jaw to help remove the mochi.
Once my little brother started choking while eating mochi, and I instantly applied this method to him. Thanks to this useful method, I could remove the mochi successfully.
Well, I don’t want you to face the same situation as me, and that’s why now I am going to teach you the correct ways of eating mochi.
How to Eat Mochi Balls?
To eat these dense, sticky mochi balls, first, you need to cut them into small bite-sized pieces. The pieces shouldn’t be bigger than the size of a small matchbox.
Then chew each piece thoroughly and swallow slowly.
This process produces enough saliva to moisten the mochi pieces, which will help you avoid choking.
Most Mochi eaters maintain a strict eating procedure that includes a lot of chewing and careful swallowing.
Who have difficulty following this procedure, either in the inability to chew or in trouble swallowing, mochi can be especially dangerous to them.
Anyway, now that you have learned how to eat mochi safely, you may wonder what it tastes like!
What Does Mochi Taste Like?
If you are curious about its taste, I will say that the texture of Japanese mochi is more important than the taste.
You can imagine it as a combination of a marshmallow and a gummy bear with a starchy aftertaste.
However, mochi is rarely consumed by itself. It is usually filled with fun flavors or wrapped in complementary leaves, as I said earlier.
Well, now you want to relish the taste of mochi after reading all this. Right?
But do you know when and where you can find them?
Okay, chill out. I am letting you know about it.
When And Where to Eat Mochi?
You will find mochi everywhere in Japan. It is a staple in supermarkets, konbini, and pantries in our country, but there are different mochi seasons also.
Traditional Japanese days of significance and holidays often feature their own unique style of mochi. It is widely consumed as part of various celebrations such as New Year, Sakura or Cherry Blossoms, Children’s Day, and Girls Day.
With the advent of spring, every nook and corner of the country gets adorned with cherry blossoms, and you can enjoy mochi as sakura mochi at that time. A pink mochi is wrapped in a salted cherry leaf, symbolizing the Sakura (cherry blossom in Japanese).
On the other hand, Children’s Day in May is celebrated by eating two variants of mochi. One is kashiwamochi- an oak-leaf wrapped mochi typically filled with sweet beans or white miso, and another is chimaki, a variant of dango covered in bamboo leaves.
Meanwhile, on Girls Day in March, you will find a rhomboid-shaped mochi, or hishi mochi. It has red, green, and white layers of color getting from jasmine, water caltrop, and mugwort, respectively.
I have nothing more to inform you regarding this topic. Let’s conclude it here.
So, now you know the answer to this question, “is mochi healthy?”
You can consider eating these healthy Japanese snacks without any hesitation.
I cordially invite you to our country to relish its heavenly sweet taste.
Hoping to meet you through another article.
Till then, goodbye.