Meera Sodhas vegan recipe for sweet potato mochi with black sesame sauce | Vegan food and drink

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W.hen I think of food that “makes you happy”, to use the saying of a well-known house organizer, I don’t think of colorful cakes or the smoke and dance of Mexican restaurant sizzlers. It’s the fun, playful chewiness of the sticky flour Japanese rice cakes called mochi that I want. Often they are sweet, filled with adzuki beans or peanuts, but they can also be savory, as in today’s recipe. Here they are fried like pancakes to give them a toasty, crispy appearance before being coated in a deeply aromatic and dark sesame sauce.

Sweet potato yaki mochi with black sesame sauce

You will need sticky rice flour, which you can buy at most Asian grocery stores and online from Sous Chef, and black sesame seeds, which you can likely find in the same place as well as larger supermarkets. This makes a lot of sauce, so keep leftovers for up to a week and use them as a dip for vegetables.

preparation 10 mins
cook 50 minutes
Makes 10

For the mochi
500g sweet potato, peeled and cut into pieces
200g sticky rice flour
¾ teaspoon of fine sea salt

4 spring onions
, trimmed and thinly sliced

for the sauce
100g black sesame seeds
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
1½cm piece of fresh ginger
, peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus extra for cooking
1½ tbsp light soy sauce
1½ tbsp rice vinegar

Put the sweet potato in a saucepan with water, cover with freshly boiled water, then simmer over medium heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until tender – the potato should be soft to the touch and not resist a knife when you bump it. Drain in a sieve, then place the sieve with the drained potatoes over the hot pan, steam dry and let cool.

While the sweet potato is cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat a small pan over low to medium heat until it’s really hot. Add the sesame, chilli, ginger and garlic and stir-fry for six to eight minutes, being careful not to get them caught and burn, then remove them from the heat. Let cool, then pour into a blender and add the three tablespoons of oil, six tablespoons of water, the soy sauce and rice vinegar and blend into a smooth, fairly runny sauce (think of tahini).

When the sweet potato cools, pour it into a large bowl and add the flour, salt, and spring onion. Knead with your hands until you have a smooth, firm, and springy dough that resembles Play-Doh in consistency.

Drizzle some oil into a wide, non-stick frying pan, swirl around to coat the base, then place very hot over medium heat. Peel off a ball of the sweet potato batter (about one-tenth the total, or 60 g), then roll it into a round between your palms and flatten it to make something about ½ cm thick by 10 cm in diameter. Repeat with more sweet potato balls, then place all three flat in the pan. Fry for four to five minutes, turning halfway once, until the top and bottom are nicely browned and the mochis rise a little in the middle. Slide out or remove with a spatula and repeat with the rest of the batter. Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzled with black sesame sauce.

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