Kitchn Love Letters

The Vegan Treat That Helps Me Through Those Days When I Haven’t Gotten Enough Sleep

published Mar 18, 2022
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mochi on a plate
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: Randi Brookman Harris
Credit: Courtesy of Joanne Lee Molinaro

We are Big Snackers here at Kitchn. We love snacking, talking about snacking, and writing about snacking.

Of course, snacking looks different for everyone. So we asked four of our favorite food people to build their ultimate Kitchn Snack Capsule, featuring one recipe and some store-bought snacks. Up first: Joanne Lee Molinaro from The Korean Vegan.

It’s been a peculiar day. My dog, Rudy, woke me up at exactly 3:08 a.m. He snuffled at my elbow, whined a bit, snuffled some more, until I finally got up. I let him off our bed so he could roam about the house without impediment or governance and I fell back into what can only be described as a “fitful” sleep until, some moments later, my husband brought him back to bed. I say all of these things to lay the groundwork, for just why mochi, these sweet little rice cakes, mean so much to me, and why this revelation prickles my skin today, of all days. (Yes, this is a love letter to red bean mochi, which I recently picked up at my local Korean grocery store. Not only are they totally vegan, but they’re also gluten-free.)

Although Rudy managed to crawl right back into the snug warmth of slumber shortly after returning to bed, I did not. I thus “started” my day quite early, and by mid-morning, I was ready for it to be over, to kick up my tired legs and not move again until tomorrow. But it was in that moment that I saw some mochi — their tender, powdered roundness sitting so patiently on my kitchen counter. How could I resist? Or rather, why should I?

Credit: Joanne Lee Molinaro

I opened the cupboards, selected a stunning hand-crafted plate that befitted their loveliness, and brewed up an Americano (decaf, of course). And somehow, the pillowy pockets filled with creamy red beans transported me to Skokie, Illinois, where hahlmuhnee used to while the yellow afternoons away with a plate of tteok and tales from her home — the one I could only visit with my imagination. All of a sudden, whether it was that jolt from the past, the mellowed sweetness of the red beans, or the decaf espresso … I felt a little life creep back into my legs and a sort of vigor rousing in my heart. I can’t say any other snack has been able to do the same for me. Thank you, Sweet Little Mochi.

Check Out the Rest of Joanne Lee Molinaro’s Snack Capsule