Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mochi Tsuki- An year end tradition

My previous post was about “O-sechi”, traditional food eaten on New Year day in Japan. The most important of all the foods eaten during New Year is “Mochi” the rice cakes made from glutinous rice.

The process of making Mochi is called “Mochi-tsuki”. Usually mochi is made in the week before New Year day  and stored to be eaten on that day.

My daughter’s kindergarten had a “Mochi-tsuki” ceremony and I was invited to watch the same. It was a nice experience and I got to participate in this traditional Japanese tradition.Actually the process is not as easy as I thought it was. Whole rice is soaked overnight and cooked. 
The actual process begins after this. 
The cooked rice is pounded with  “kine” - wooden mallets  in a “usu”- traditional mortar. 
Usually it cannot be done alone. 
One person usually does the pounding while the other helps in the turning and wetting the pounded mixture.
It is done in well synchronized manner so that they don’t end up pounding or hurting the other. The rice is pounded till it becomes one big lump of sticky dough. 

Once the rice is well pounded, the  mixture is shaped into different shapes, traditionally round but nowadays in shapes that appeal to the people.The kids at the kindergarten trying their hand at making Mochi.

The mothers of some of the students, rolling the Mochi for the students and teachers and parents who ate lunch after the event.
Since pounding is not possible at home, nowadays, people prefer to make Mochi from sweet rice flour called “Mochiko” which is easily available.

The other important food that forms a part of “O-sechi” is the “O-zoni” soup. 
This soup is made with small mochi dumplings and vegetables like carrot, mitsuba (honeywort), satoimo (taro), tofu and small kamaboko (fish paste dumplings) boiled in dashi broth. This soup owes its origin to the samurai class. The taste and ingredients vary according to regions. 
After the mochi making event, the students, teachers and few of the parents who attended ate  lunch which was the O-zoni . Oishiii was !!! 

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