I had lived in Tokyo for ten years. My old Japanese friends invited me to their house for New Years and cooked this special beautiful soup. I love that the texture of mochi and the simple flavor of the soup. It is just beautiful to look inside the bowl.
One of the traditional foods served during shōgatsu (Japanese New Year) is mochi. Traditionally, neighbors would get together to make the mochi. It is made of glutinous rice pounded into a paste and formed into shape. The traditional ceremony of pounding mochi is called Mochitsuki. The big lump will be divided up into round pieces or squares. Some popular ways of eating mochi are: coating it with anko (a bean paste made of boiled and sweetened beans), kinako (a sweet powder made of roasted soybeans) and dipping it in soy sauce and wrapping it with nori (dried seaweed). By eating mochi, believers hope to gain the strength of the rice divinities.
Zoni (Japanese rice cake soup) is a Japanese tradition to eat on New Year’s holiday. Ingredients for zoni vary region to region. Basically, zoni is seasoned with soy sauce in eastern Japan, and it’s seasoned with shiromiso (white miso) in western Japan.
Prep Time: 15 min. Cooking Time: 30 min. Servings: 4 Ingredients:
4 cups dashi soup stock
4 blocks mochi (rice cake)
1/4 lb. boneless chicken thighs
2 inches carrot, cut into thin
4 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed.
3 inches negi (scallion), rinsed and diagonally sliced
1/4 lb. fresh spinach, boiled and cut into 2 inches
4 slices kamaboko (fish cakes)
1 tbsp soysauce
1. Peel the carrot and use the food cutter to create flowers.
2. The top of the shiitake mushroom cap, creating a star pattern.
3. In a large pot, bring the water, dashi and chicken stock to a boil.
4. Skim off any foam or impurities that rise to the surface.
5. Add the carrots, green onion and shiitake mushrooms into the pot. Turn down the heat to low. Add soy sauce in the soup. Simmer for a few minutes.
6. Grill mochi in the oven until softened.
7. Add grilled mochi, kamaboko, and negi slices in the soup.
Let’s say, “Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu!” (It means “Happy New Year” in Japanese).