There are certain things in nature that my wife particularly likes; among them, are rainbows and bright Moons. Every time conditions are right to form a rainbow i.e. the sun comes out while it is still raining, she goes out to look for one. If she sees one she takes the time to admire it until it disappears. In the evening, if the sky is clear, she is on the look out for the shine of the Moon. So, when she learned about “Chu-shu-no-meigetsu” 中秋の名月 and the round shaped food that goes with “Tsuki-mi” 月見 or moon gazing, it was a done deal. Tsuki-mi took its place on our calendar. I suppose, making “Tsukimi dango” 月見団子 is most traditional but it is not particularly interesting to me (it is a sweetened rice flour dumpling–not one of my favorites). So when I saw this mashed potato ball recipe with cheese, there was no question that this was the one I would make. The picture below was taken before frying. I just wanted to make the correct 15 ball pyramid (3×3 base, 2×2 middle and two on the top) indicative of “ju-go ya*” 十五夜 meaning 15th night in a month before one potentially exploded while being fried.
*The moon that is the focus of tsuki-mi is the full moon before the fall equinox. In the U.S. that moon is called the harvest moon. According to the lunar calendar the 15th day after the new moon would be the full moon. Thus, “ju-go ya” means a full moon but using the Gregorian calendar, obviously, the 15th day of the month may not be the full moon. This year, the full moon before the equinox occurred on the 15-16th night in September. We could not see the moon, however, because of the clouds.
- Boil the potatoes with skin-on on salted water until cooked.
- Remove the skin and mash them.
- Add the potato starch and salt, mix well until elastic dough forms
- Using a small ice cream scoop, I portioned out the mashed potato (#1). (requires at least 15 to make a appropriate presentation. I made 20 just in case a few broke during the cooking).
- I encased a cube of cheese (#2) with the mashed potato and rolled it into balls between my palms. (#3).
- I kept these potato balls in a sealed container in the refrigerator until I cooked and served them (#4).