Kushi-mochi is a food unique to the Hachinohe Area. Halfway between a snack and a meal, this local delicacy can be found at roadside stalls, morning markets, and fairgrounds. Simple, filling, and addictively delicious, this old school treat has been around forever and hopefully will continue to be.


Kushi-mochi is made by taking a cooked round dumpling and piercing a kushi, or skewer, through it, then slathering it with a paste before grilling it. Many will recognize the mochi in Kushi-mochi’s name almost right away. Mochi generally refers to Japanese rice cakes made with glutinous rice that has a soft and chewy texture. Kushi-mochi is a bit of an anomaly because it is not made from rice flour or glutinous rice flour but from wheat or buckwheat flour.


This is because, much like other local specialties (like the Nanbu senbei), kushi-mochi is part of the Hachinohe’s konamon (or flour) culture. For centuries, the cool winds that blew during the summer months called yamase winds hampered rice cultivation and destroyed crops. This hindrance in the ability to grow rice led the people of the Hachinohe Area to depend on alternative grains like buckwheat, wheat, millet, and more. Over the years, the community adjusted these crops to fit their lifestyles and developed a new culinary culture that is now known as the Konamon Culture of Hachinohe.

Notes on adjustments:

  • Kushi-mochi can be made with wheat flour, buckwheat flour, or a combination of both. The recipe below is made with wheat flour.
  • Once the dumplings are prepared, they are coated with a sweet and salty paste. The sauce is traditionally made by mashing either perilla seeds (called june in Japanese) or walnuts into a paste, and then mixing it with sugar and miso. June comes from the local dialect of the Hachinohe Area, and in standard Japanese the word is egoma. These seeds have an amazing flavor but can be hard to find even in Japan. They can be substituted by using black sesame, or better yet, by making an alternative paste that uses walnuts as an equally traditional option.

June (perilla seeds)

  • The kushi-mochi dumplings are neutral in flavor, so if miso is hard for you to obtain, anything can be used to coat the dumplings before grilling as long as it is thick enough (caramel sauce, jam, almond butter, etc.).
  • Many Japanese apartments and houses still use gas stovetops, making the toasting/grilling of the dumplings relatively easy. The next best alternative would be an outdoor grill. Using the broil function of an oven or toaster oven would work as well. The main objective is to toast the dumplings until they just begin to char on the outside.

Follow the recipe below to learn how to make this great local specialty that is as unique as it is delicious.


Recipe for Kushi-Mochi

Ingredients (makes 4 kushi-mochi):

    • For the kushi-mochi:
      • Flour     200 grams
      • Salt        1/2 tsp
      • Water    200 ml
      • 4 disposable chopsticks or metal skewers
    • For the kushi-mochi Paste:
      • Junemiso:
        • June (or black sesame)   3 Tbsp
        • Miso                               2 Tbsp
        • Sugar                              1 Tbsp
        • Water                             1.5 Tbsp
        • Soy sauce                        A dash
      • Walnut-miso:
        • Walnuts                3 Tbsp
        • Miso                     2 Tbsp
        • Sugar                    1 Tbsp
        • Water                   1.5 Tbsp
        • Soy sauce              A dash


First, make the paste for the kushi-mochi:

In a pestle and mortar, pound the june or walnuts into a rough paste. (Alternatively, a food processor can be used).

Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Set aside.


Next, begin making the kushi-mochi:

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.

Heat water until hot and then pour into flour.

Mix with a fork or spoon until a rough dough starts to form, then knead well with your hands.

Split the dough into four even balls, then flatten the balls into circles with a circumference of about 8-9cm (about 3-3.5 inches).

Along one part of each circle, flatten the part by pressing the dough inward; this is where you will insert the skewer later.

put a pot of water over high heat, once boiling add the kushi-mochi dough.

Once the kushi-mochi begins to float to the top of the water, remove them carefully with a slotted spoon or sieve.

Let rest until cool enough to handle but still warm.

Insert the disposable chopsticks or metal skewers into the kushi-mochi at the flattened portion.

Brush a layer of the june or walnut miso paste on both sides of each kushi mochi.

Toast over a low flame on a gas range, grill, or broiler setting of an oven until the outside of the kushi-mochi begins to char.


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