I have been super excited about posting this recipe all month! I just had to wait until I had mochi to make it.
Mocheesi Sticks are the invention of my amazing, incredibly talented friend, Madeline Pizzo. She developed her original recipe as her final project for The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts. She very graciously gave me permission to post my version here. Madeline is truly awesome, and she even has a vegan brownie named after her!
The individual steps for this recipe are all easy, but the recipe does contain a few steps, and it can be a bit time consuming.
Madeline, and her mochi mozzarella sticks singlehandedly converted me from being staunchly anti nooch, toward a (reserved)pro nutritional yeast stance.
I love this version of vegan mozzarella sticks because, while it is a fried food, it is mostly comprised of a whole and minimally refined ingredient. Especially for a cheese alternative. Mochi is traditionally made of cooked sweet brown rice that is pounded, then dried in cakes.
Madeline's Mocheesi Sticks
4 cups water
2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
1 cup panko
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 package Grainaissance plain mochi
safflower or sunflower oil for frying
In a 2 quart saucepan, heat water and umeboshi vinegar to a rolling boil.
While waiting for water to come to a boil, make seasoned breadcrumbs: combine panko, flour, nutritional yeast, sea salt, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil, and paprika in a wide but shallow bowl, like a pie plate or a baking dish. Mix well and set aside for now.
Cut mochi into sticks that are approximately 1/2" x 1/2" x 3".
Add 4 or 5 pieces of mochi to the boiling water at a time, and cook until mochi softens slightly. Mochi should still retain its shape. Pull each piece of mochi out of water and gently roll in seasoned panko, then lay on a flat surface, like a cutting board. Repeat until all mochi sticks are covered in panko.
Heat 1/2" of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once oil is hot, carefully add mochi sticks in a single layer, and fry, turning once so all sides are golden brown. Do not cook too long, or mochi will melt too much and gush out of breading. You will probably need to fry in two or three batches.
Drain mochi sticks on paper towels. and allow to cool slightly.
Serve sticks warm with a tangy dip, like marinara or sun dried tomato pesto.
Mocheesi sticks will be molten, with a consistancy like melted cheese, so be careful.
Umeboshi vinegar is not actually a vinegar, it's a brining liquid. It's very salty and sour, and helps give a cheesy bite to the mochi. The nutritional yeast completes the cheesy flavor.
The step of boiling the mochi is important because it helps soften the mochi, flavor it, and gives it enough moisture to bind to the breading.
Plain mochi is very bland, so the seasonings are important and add layers of flavor.
Panko is a Japanese style breadcrumb that helps fried foods stay crunchy.