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Yakimochi (Grilled Mochi Rice Cakes)

January 30, 2014

Yakimochi (grilled mochi with seaweed)Pin it!

Every once in a while I post recipes that are not really recipes, and I assume everyone will see right through them and think less of me as a food blogger.

But I am also such a fan of snacking and procrastination (and procrastisnacking*) that I often get into the habit of making myself a certain type of elaborate snack or another, and then I get to thinking about sharing it with you.

This one is not that elaborate, but it does take some time (6 minutes to be precise) standing over the stove, flipping the mochi as it grills. Then you get to enjoy the most delightfully textured warm, comforting snack of soft chewy mochi wrapped in crisp salty seaweed.

Yakimochi (grilled mochi rice cakes)Pin it!

Yakimochi (grilled mochi), seasoned with soy sauce, and wrapped up in seaweed is called Isobeyaki. I like improvising little variations on isobeyaki, like adding some citrusy ponzu and sesame oil to the soy sauce, or sandwiching a slice of melty cheese in between the seaweed and the mochi. (Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.)

Yakimochi (grilled mochi with seaweed)Pin it!

The seaweed (nori), seasoned with oil and salt, definitely makes the hot, gooey mochi a little easier to hold, but you could also skip the seaweed altogether. Yakimochi is even tasty with a little sugar sprinkled into the soy sauce or over the surface of the rice cakes as they grill.

Yakimochi (grilled mochi rice cakes)Pin it!

Eating mochi is a new year’s tradition in Japan. I meant to post this closer to new year’s, but now you know my secret: everything I’ve posted so far in January was photographed in December.

I am usually about a month behind on any given blogging goal—chocolatey recipes for Valentine’s Day? Expect one in March. Recipes using sweet summer peppers? I’m still posting them in October. The meal that Paula and I ate on Christmas day? Posted last week.

Blocks of dried mochi (Japanese rice cakes)

But maybe I should look at it from the glass-is-half-full perspective and say that I’m always about a month ahead of the game on photographing food I want to share with you all. And only sharing one recipe a week on Thursdays means it takes some time before those food photos get their words to go with them and see the light of day.

Making Yakimochi (grilled mochi rice cakes)

(Which makes me even guiltier about spending a Thursday posting a non-recipe like this one… and we’ve come full circle.) But you don’t mind, do you? If at least a few of you make this and fall in love with the savory puffy marshmallow goodness that is grilled blocks of mochi, then I’ll know that this was the right thing to do.

Yakimochi (grilled mochi rice cakes)

Also, I lied about always being a month ahead in terms of food photos. As I’m writing this, I only have a backlog of two other photographed posts for the upcoming weeks! So now everyone knows how I’ll be spending my weekend… which is in fact Paula’s birthday weekend. And I am all about using birthdays (or anything) as an excuse to spend some time cheating on my dissertation in the kitchen.

Yakimochi (grilled mochi with seaweed)Pin it!

(If you’re interested, Paula’s requested that I make her this for her birthday dinner, and these for dessert.)

* Not to mention procrasticooking and procrasticleaning…

Print this recipe. (PDF)


Yakimochi, Three Ways

(1-2 block(s) of mochi per person makes for a substantial snack; you can also cut them in half with scissors for smaller portions once they’ve been grilled.)

Active and total time: 6-8 minutes.

Isobeyaki Ingredients, per block of mochi:
~ 1 block mochi (available at Asian markets)
~ 2 tsp. soy sauce
~ nori (seaweed) to serve
~ thin slice of cheese, like cheddar (optional)

Yakimochi with ponzu and sesame oil:
~ 1 block mochi
~ 1 tsp. soy sauce
~ 1 tsp. ponzu
~ ¼ tsp. sesame oil (or less)
~ nori to serve (optional)

Spicy Yakimochi:
~ 1 block mochi
~ 2 tsp. soy sauce
~ ¼ tsp. sesame oil (or less)
~ ¼ tsp. sriracha or kochujang (or more)
~ nori to serve (optional)

Other ideas: soy sauce & sugar, soy sauce & butter, or soy sauce & rice vinegar. (You could also use something other than soy sauce, but make sure whatever you use has some kind of salty oomph to it—like miso paste?!—or the mochi might taste too plain and unseasoned.)

Special equipment needed:
~ stovetop grill pan, outdoor grill, or toaster oven rack with tray to catch marinade drips
~ basting/pastry brush

How to make it:

1. Mix together the marinade ingredients in a shallow dish, set the dried mochi block in it, dipping or brushing each side of the mochi in the marinade (although it won’t be very absorbent).

Making Yakimochi (grilled mochi rice cakes)Making Yakimochi (grilled mochi rice cakes)

2. Heat a grill pan to medium heat and make sure the pan is hot before adding the mochi. (It may smoke a little, so you may need to use your stove top hood fan.)

3. Using tongs, grill for 2-3 min on the first side, then for 1.5-2 minutes on the second side, brushing more marinade over the top each time you turn it. Turn over again and repeat for another 1-1.5 min. on each side. (Or just turn back and forth more often for about a total of 6 minutes, although you won’t develop nice grill marks that way.)

Grill for even longer if you like yours blackened and crispy—I do this occasionally, depending on my mood and how far I’ve stepped away from the stove… Or use a toaster oven and heat until the mochi browns as desired—it will puff up quite large while toasting, then shrink down again as it cools.

Yakimochi (grilled mochi rice cakes)Yakimochi (grilled mochi rice cakes)

4. Optionally cut each block of mochi in half with kitchen scissors. If using cheese, place a thin slice of cheese on top of the mochi for the last minute or two of cooking, after you’ve flipped it over for the last time. Optionally wrap with seaweed, and enjoy immediately, while warm.

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Yakimochi (grilled mochi rice cakes)Pin it!

Yakimochi (grilled mochi with seaweed)Pin it!

Related recipe posts:

Onigiri (rice balls with pickled plums) Rabokki (Ramen + Tteokbokki rice cakes) Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas Black Sesame Mochi Cake
Onigiri (Rice Balls) with Pickled Plum Rabokki (Ramen + Tteokbokki Rice Cakes) Za’atar Roasted Chickpeas Black Sesame Mochi Cake
42 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2014 9:29 am

    Gorgeous, do you think they’d work with rice wine vinegar x

    • January 30, 2014 9:35 am

      Thanks, Deena!

      Yes, I don’t think I’ve tried that, but I mentioned above that it could be good—maybe try 1/2 tsp rice vinegar along with 1-2 tsp. soy sauce, per block of mochi, to start with.

  2. January 30, 2014 9:58 am

    this looks so amazing and comforting! i love me some mochi, but i have always only had it as a dessert! i need to get some savory mochi in me right now.

    • January 30, 2014 10:36 am

      Yes! Savory mochi is a whole other kind of deliciousness.

      Paula’s actually not a fan, though—she thinks it’s a little bland, even with all the marinade basting—but I just can’t get enough of the chewy texture… anyway, that just means there’s more for me!

      • January 31, 2014 2:19 pm

        I just had a thought: we need to acquire some needles and syringes so I can inject flavor into the mochi.

      • January 31, 2014 5:32 pm

        Or we could just make our own flavored mochi in the first place… like that black sesame stuff and brown sugar stuff I always buy in Okayama!

  3. January 30, 2014 10:00 am

    I’m all for procrastisnacking, especially if it’s this delicious. I haven’t had mochi since I left Japan decades ago — this makes me crave it again! Thanks for sharing, -Laura

  4. January 30, 2014 11:15 am

    This is great! I’m so glad you did this post. I love going to the Asian market and wouldn’t have thought to make mochi a savory thing except for in a soup. This is just lovely. Happy Birthday to Paula.

    • January 31, 2014 10:22 am

      Thanks, Amanda! Savory mochi is really good in soups, too! You can actually just grill plain blocks of mochi like this (or heat them up in a toaster oven) and then drop them into a soup.

      I’ll pass on your birthday wishes to Paula—her birthday’s actually on Monday when she has to work, so we’re going to celebrate all weekend instead!

    • January 31, 2014 2:19 pm

      Thank you!

  5. walgenbe permalink
    January 30, 2014 12:27 pm

    Brilliant and delicious-looking! I can’t wait to find some mochi and try this. I have been on a mad Szechuan cooking streak, but adding a little Japanese to that can’t hurt. I like the chewy mochi texture too :)

    • January 31, 2014 10:23 am

      Thanks, Em! I’d love to get the recipes to any Szechuan dishes you’ve fallen in love with… I know very little about Chinese cooking, but I know I love all kinds of spicy food. :)

      • walgenbe permalink
        February 6, 2014 1:40 pm

        I’ve been using Fushia Dunlop’s cookbooks, but will for sure send you some recipes. I’m doing some very important recipe “testing” (i.e. eating). The ones I like the most are always full of spice and oil and noodles :)

      • February 7, 2014 4:08 pm

        Oh yum. I love things that are full of spice and oil and noodles. :) I’ve heard of Fushia Dunlop but haven’t investigated any of her cookbooks… I’ll await your “tested” versions of her recipes!

  6. gastronomiette permalink
    January 30, 2014 12:40 pm

    Wow these look great – the carmelization on the outside paired with the steamy, hot, and chewy inside, yum.

    And mochi with cheese? What?!!?

    • January 31, 2014 10:30 am

      Yes! Mochi with cheese combines one of my favorite flavors with one of my favorite textures; it’s kind of a guilty pleasure, although I’m not sure why I’d need to feel guilty about it, maybe just because I think of it as a weird combination.

      Also there’s a Japanese dish I love called “okonomiyaki”, which literally means “grilled as you like it”, and which is like a big savory cabbage pancake (in Osaka) or a thin crepe topped with soba noodles topped with a pile of savory cabbage & toppings (in Hiroshima). Since it’s grilled as you like it, you can choose all of your own toppings to add, e.g., shrimp, squid, pork, egg, etc. and often you can even choose mochi and/or cheese! I think that’s how I realized they were so good together.

      • gastronomiette permalink
        January 31, 2014 9:22 pm

        Dang, never would’ve thought of it! I’d try it, though.

        And I have had okonomiyaki before! But just the vegetable ones – it sounds super cool to be able to customize your own :) I’d definitely go crazy for pickly things or contrasting textures and such.

  7. January 30, 2014 2:34 pm

    Beautiful recipe – original and flavorful. :-)

    • January 31, 2014 10:31 am

      Thanks, Shanna! It’s not actually that original, since Isobeyaki mochi is a pretty common way to eat mochi in Japan, but it’s definitely flavorful and one of my favorites! :)

  8. January 30, 2014 3:38 pm

    Wow! These look wonderful. I am with you about the blogging delay. I have the best intentions but work and other life things seem to get in the way. I guess that’s why blogging isn’t my job :)

    • January 31, 2014 10:35 am

      Thanks! I know; I’m glad blogging isn’t my real job, too, or… well… I’d have to quit all of my other jobs (and grad school) just to have enough time to really go all in with it.

      I definitely find myself torn pretty often between the two blogging goals I’ve set for myself of posting only quality recipes AND posting once a week. I can’t believe I ever managed to post twice a week! (No wonder I wasn’t making dissertation progress back then…)

  9. January 30, 2014 3:42 pm

    “procrastisnacking” – I love it!
    Anything mochi-related has a near and dear place in my heart and these look amazing! Thank you so much for posting this. =)

    • January 31, 2014 10:37 am

      Thanks for commenting! :) I’m with you on mochi being near and dear to my heart. And procrastisnacking has also been a significant part of my life over all the (many) years I’ve been a student!

  10. January 30, 2014 5:26 pm

    i have a massive backlog of finished posts that are in desperate need of photos (your curry roux post included. i feel your pain.

    yakimochi is awesome. i taken to making it in my toaster oven. once i’ve dipped the blocks in soy sauce, i like to cut a deep x on top, then pack it full of minced garlic. as they puff it, the garlic bakes into the mochi…

    it’s to die for. i’ve got to try your sriracha method, though. i can’t quite picture it, but it sounds excellent.

    • January 31, 2014 10:41 am

      Oh man, now I need to try your garlic-bread version of mochi in the toaster oven, asap! Good thing I still have a few blocks of mochi left…

      I also like making it in the toaster oven—even though I’m always too nervous to just leave it and walk away while it’s toasting, so I end up sitting there the whole time, but I do like watching it puff up… I just thought it’d be more photogenic for blogging purposes to bust out my grill pan instead of scrubbing my toaster oven clean using my toaster.

      To be honest, I haven’t even tried it with sriracha yet, but I made it with kochujang. It was tasty, but the kochujang didn’t dissolve very easily into the soy sauce/sesame oil, so I figured sriracha would work even better. (Plus then you get that garlicky/vinegar kick!)

  11. January 30, 2014 8:05 pm

    Innovative rice cakes idea my friend, looks delicious :D


    • January 31, 2014 10:43 am

      Thanks, CCU! As I mentioned in response to a different comment, it’s not really that innovative, since Isobeyaki is already a common way to eat mochi in Japan. I just added my own flavorings to it besides soy sauce so it would seem like more of a recipe… Anyway, it’s worth a try no matter what. :)

  12. afracooking permalink
    February 1, 2014 3:38 am

    Please, do post more ‘non-recipes’ – this one is fabulous! For you this might just be the most normal little snack, but I have never even had mochi. I do think I saw these at my local Asian shop so I am certainly going to try this! yum!

    • February 4, 2014 10:51 pm

      Nice! I’m happy to hear that you have a place to buy mochi in your area AND that you are planning to try this! I’ll make a mental note to not be so hesitant in posting “non-recipes.” :)

  13. February 3, 2014 12:10 pm

    I’m totally intrigued by this. As for the non-recipes, I’m totally cool with those. Sometimes I feel like cooking is just a process of is one big non-recipe. A lot of cooking is so subjective in terms of flavor preference. I’m all for non-recipes!

    • February 4, 2014 10:56 pm

      That’s so true, Karla—I’m going to start thinking of cooking as one big non-recipe process… (I barely follow most recipes as it is…)

      I’ve recently started to notice a trend of food sites posting things like “how to make ____ without a recipe,” which definitely makes sense in terms of tips for more intuitive cooking, etc., but that kind of title always makes me think, “but just by explaining ‘how to make___…’ you’ve written a recipe!” (I guess their criterion for a real recipe is a strict ingredient list with specific amounts listed, and if it’s missing that they can say that they’ve given instructions but “without a recipe.”)

  14. February 3, 2014 10:39 pm

    omg i LOVE mochi!! Mochi in anything!! i can eat a dozen of these!

  15. February 5, 2014 9:39 pm

    And I thought mochi was an ice cream … learn something new today! Beautiful photos!

    • February 7, 2014 4:06 pm


      There are lots of different ways to make & eat mochi—mochi is just anything that’s made with pounded glutinous rice or glutinous rice flour (neither of which actually contains any gluten; the super short-grained mochi rice is just an especially gummy/sticky type of rice).

      Just-made mochi or softened mochi can be shaped around small balls of ice cream or other sweet fillings, like sweet bean paste or black sesame paste, or mochi “dough” itself can be seasoned and/or sweetened. For this recipe, I used dried blocks of plain, unseasoned mochi, that are sold wrapped individually, and are totally firm and hard (impossible to eat) until you heat them up to soften them.

  16. February 11, 2014 10:36 pm

    Mochi paired with cheddar cheese sound magnificent… thank you for the idea.

    • February 13, 2014 9:55 am

      Yes, it’s soooo good (especially with seaweed in addition to the cheese), since mochi just has a really nice texture but not that much flavor… many things are improved by adding cheese! :)

  17. February 15, 2014 12:37 am

    Wow. I am so glad that you posted these! I’ve never eaten mochi, to be honest… eeek, does that make ME less of a food blogger?! Possibly. Your photos have completely convinced me to try it asap. And yes. Cheese is definitely one of my very favourite things :) :)

    • February 16, 2014 10:36 am

      I don’t think that makes you any less of a food blogger! But I’m glad you’ve been convinced to try it—mochi’s all about the chewy texture really, so if you like that, then you’ll enjoy eating the mochi, however it’s flavored or seasoned! (Especially if you combine it with cheese…)


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