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Watch: Making Mochi Desserts at Morimoto with Master Pastry Chef Natsume Aoi

Master pastry chef Natsume Aoi hand-wraps cookies with mochi at Morimoto in New York

Mochi — pounded sticky rice — is most commonly seen in the US filled with ice cream and sold in the freezer section of a grocery store chain. Creating the traditional Japanese confectionary is a laborious process that many chefs rather not tackle; but pastry chef Natsume Aoi can’t imagine doing a menu without it. “I think I’m one of the few that would even attempt to do a hand-wrapped mochi [in a restaurant] where we can seat 400 capacity in two runs,” jokes Aoi, the pastry chef at New York’s high-volume Morimoto. “It’s not the smartest move to make.”

Still, for Aoi, having mochi on her menu — even one adapted to the western palate — is something that brings her closer to home. “Every restaurant that I have ever worked at, as long as I’m in a position to bring something to the menu, it will always be something that’s personal,” she explains. “I’m pretty far away from home and I need to have a way to bring that with me.”

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