Kakimochi—a Quick, Japanese-Inspired Snack
My mom was an avid collector of recipes. Saved from magazines and the back of food packages, copied from TV shows, exchanged with friends, Mom was always on the hunt for new ideas.
She passed away three years ago, but I still have her recipe collection. I’ve sorted through some of them, eliminating and discarding more ordinary ones like basic pasta dishes or chicken simmered in wine, but I go back through her jumbled stash every now and then, looking for inspiration.
Recently I ran across her hand-written recipe for Kakimochi. I don’t believe it’s an original recipe but I don’t know whose it is. Kakimochi are Japanese rice crackers also known as arare, or in Hawaii, as mochi crunch. You can find them these days in the snack aisles of Trader Joe’s and Costco, among other places.
Instead of making them from scratch, this recipe uses bite-size toasted rice cereal squares. Given that kakimochi is rice-based, I could appreciate the flavor possibilities.
Following the recipe exactly, at first taste, the flavor seemed to match what I expected from kakimochi. Upon further eating, it was too salty, so I added some unsalted roasted peanuts for some neutral flavor relief.
On my next try, I reduced the amounts of soy sauce and sugar so the flavor wouldn’t be so intense, added some sriracha for heat, and cut up half a sheet of nori (toasted seaweed) which was good for flavor, but didn’t adhere to the cereal, so I determined it could be an optional ingredient.
In tweeting about my recipe exploration, I found that this Japanese flavor profile for what’s essentially a Chex Party Mix, is not uncommon. My Twitter friend @wendipqua from Alaska adds wasabi peas and sesame seed crackers to the recipe she uses. And then I recalled my friend Linda, originally from Hawaii, gave us a delicious version around Christmas.
Here’s my take. If you close your eyes when you eat it, I think it tastes very much like the authentic kakimochi rice cracker. Let me know what you think.
8 cups bite-size toasted rice cereal squares (such as Rice Chex)
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons naturally brewed soy sauce
1 teaspoon sriracha
½ sheet nori, cut into ¼-inch squares with kitchen scissors (optional)
¼ cup dry-roasted, unseasoned peanuts
Heat oven to 250° F.
Measure our cereal into rimmed 9- X 13-inch baking sheet. In small bowl, combine sugar, soy sauce and sriracha; stir until well mixed.
Drizzle soy sauce mixture over cereal and using clean hands, toss until soy sauce mixture is evenly distributed. Sprinkle with nori squares if using.
Bake cereal about 25 to 30 minutes, or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, stir in peanuts and cool on the baking sheet. Store in zip-top plastic bags or airtight container.
Makes 8 cups.
Note: Some of the soy sauce mixture will caramelize and stick to the pan, as will some of the nori. I just used a metal egg turner and scraped off most of the nori and added it back to the cereal. Soak the pan in water and it will be easy to clean.
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