Article By Joleen Oshiro March 30, 2021
Hawaii people understand the allure of a chewy dessert, thanks to tender Asian classics like gau and mochi, and chewy-crunchy treats like jin dui and bibinka. Case in point: Liliha Bakery took that concept and launched a contemporary hit with its poi mochi donut.
Alas, we gluten-free eaters cannot partake. But thanks to Pei Wu and her line of Mochi Foods Gluten-Free Waffle/Pancake mixes, we can create that texture, anytime we want.
Her mix comprises rice flour, sugar, tapioca starch, baking powder and xantham gum. That might sound unassumingly ordinary, but there is magic in that rice flour, and the precise ratio of tapioca starch.
Wu looked to her Taiwanese roots to create a rice-based mix that would offer a quality she longed for in pancakes — the comforting aroma of steamed rice and a soft, elastic interior.
She scrutinized more than a dozen types of Taiwanese rice with grains specifically suited to a traditional grinding process that turns them into powder. “That keeps the natural flavors of the rice,” Wu said.
To her final pick, she added a proprietary proportion of tapioca starch that balances the rice and contributes texture — “it enhances the chew and brings crunch,” she said.
A bonus: The mix has range. On the Mochi Foods website, mochifoods.com, there are a number of recipes that transform the pancake mix into lemon pound cake, Banana-Matcha Butter Mochi Cake, mochi brownies and more. Any of these recipes would be a welcome addition to an Easter brunch.
The mix can be incorporated into other recipes as well. “It gives an appealing flavor when you use rice versus (wheat) flour, and there’s a softer texture inside. Experiment with your own recipes,” Wu said.
“Make a souffle pancake by beating egg whites until they’re stiff and fold them into the batter. It’s easy.”
Wu isn’t making lofty claims. In 2019, her gluten-free mix won the Monde Selection Gold Award from the prestigious International Quality Institute in Brussels. The Monde Selection draws international experts to assess the taste and quality of recipe submissions.
After taking her gluten-free and conventional mixes (they include wheat flour) to a Chicago food show, the mixes launched in cities around the country, including New York, Las Vegas and Seattle, and in California and Texas. Wu lends her expertise to chefs to help them develop signature desserts for their bakeries and restaurants.
Bottom of Form
In Hawaii, her longtime experience in the food community is tied to beloved institutions and brands. After attending college at the University of Hawaii, she married into the Waiola Shave Ice family, and cooked their mochi and azuki beans.
Wu eventually got divorced but continued in the food industry with her own business, Candy Incredible, a snack and candy brokerage company. She started Mochi Foods in 2016.
Her waffle/pancake mixes come in three flavors. Find 8-ounce bags at Longs and Don Quijote; 2.2-pound bags at Sam’s Club; and 4.5-pound bags at ChefZone. All sizes and flavors — plus conventional, mochi doughnut and malasada mixes — are available at mochifoods.com. (If you’re a fan of boba, check out the boba supplies there as well.)
Gluten-Free Mochi Souffle Pancakes
Pei Wu’s version of souffle pancakes using her Gluten-Free Mochi Waffle/Pancake Mix requires a bit of experience, as it involves separating eggs and whipping the whites to stiff peaks.
I am not a baker and had never done that before, and my whipped whites were rather wimpy. Nevertheless, my cakes were fluffier than any pancake I’ve ever made, and they possessed a wonderful aroma and chew. At barely taller than half an inch, however, I cannot say they qualified for souffle pancake status.
Practice makes perfect — or you could get help from someone with more developed skills. That’s the route I went, turning to my baker cousin Lynne and her nephew Jack.
They achieved 3-inch-wide pancakes about 3/4-inch high. The pancakes turned out wonderfully firm on the outside and cakey inside, with a nice chew that reflected the mochiko flour.
But the favored preparation was cooking the souffle batter in their Belgian waffle maker. That delivered an inch-high, airy, chewy waffle with a firm exterior.
Consider serving this souffle pancake or waffle for a holiday brunch.
Adapted from Mochi Foods
- 3/4 cup Mochi Foods Gluten-Free Mochi Waffle/Pancake Mix
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/8 cup oil, plus more to grease pan
- 1 to 2 large eggs, separated
Combine mix, milk, oil and egg yolks.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
Gently fold egg whites into batter with a whisk without breaking air bubbles.
Grease a pan with more oil and heat on low. When pan is thoroughly heated, mound about 2 tablespoons batter in pan for each pancake. Cook slow, keeping heat low. Add a few drops of water to create some steam, then cover pan.
After a few minutes, add another 1-1/2 tablespoons of batter on top of each pancake. Be sure to stack the mix vertically. Add more water for steaming.
Once bottoms are nicely browned, gently flip over. Cook approximately 4 to 6 minutes per side. Makes about 5, 3/4-inch-high pancakes.
“Going Gluten-Free” helps meet the cooking and dining challenges faced by those on wheat-free diets. It runs on the first Wednesday of each month. Send questions and suggestions to Joleen Oshiro, email@example.com.