Saturday, April 2, 2016

Mugwort Recipe - Mugwort Mochi

Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) is just popping up here in southern Connecticut, covering the ground in a mat of silvery foliage before it grows larger and puts up flower stalks. It is considered mildly invasive, originally from temperate Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and Alaska. Mugwort is a bitter herbaceous perennial plant growing from woody roots, and traditionally had been used to flavor drinks and beer. The Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans use different species of mugworts as flavorings,  often preferring a bitter component in their traditional foods.

Our local mugwort is not very bitter at this young stage, and here it is used to make a liquid that is added to make mochi, a Japanese cake made from sweet rice flour and sometimes filled with a paste. Gillian loves gooey food, so mochi are among her favorite treats, as the texture is soft and gummy.

Mugwort Mochi  makes about 15-20

1 oz. weight  young mugwort leaves
1 c.  water
1/2 c.  sugar
pinch of salt
1 c.  sweet rice flour (Koda Farms, Mochiko)
potato starch for dusting

INGREDIENTS (International):
25 g young mugwort leaves
350 ml water
107 g sugar
pinch of salt
165 g sweet rice flour (Koda Farms, Mochiko)
potato starch for dusting

filling of sweet red bean paste or sweet chestnut puree

1. Boil the water with the sugar and pinch of salt, add the mugwort leaves and remove from the heat.
2. Blend the water/mugwort mixture until most pieces are chopped up. Strain through a coffee filter to remove the fibers.
3. Mix the green liquid into the rice flour, making a slightly pourable dough.
4. Pour the dough into a glass or metal bowl and steam it covered in a pot for 30 minutes, resulting in a gooey but firm dough.
5. Let the dough cool slightly, then dump it out onto a surface that has been heavily dusted with potato starch. You need to work with the dough while it is still warm, and it will be incredibly sticky.
6. Roll the dough about 1/4 inch (1 cm) thick, and cut into 2 inch (4 cm) squares with a pizza wheel of knife. You can let the squares cool and eat the mochi as is, or while the squares are still warm, roll the soft dough around a chilled ball of sweet red bean paste (1 tsp or 5 ml) and pinch the ends to close. Serve the mochi at room temperature and they will stay gooey.

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