Ozouni or ozohni or ozoni: Mochi soup for the New Year

ozouni1.jpg

Happy New Year! I wanted to post this a little earlier, but better late than never I hope!

During the New Year holiday period, traditionally rice is not cooked, to give a rest to the cook. Instead, dried mochi cakes were used as the carbohydrate. Ozouni (お雑煮 おぞうに), which literally means ‘mixed stew’, is a soup with mochi cakes in it. There is no one set recipe, and there are lots of regional variations. This one is a simple Kanto (Tokyo area) style ozouni, the way my mother makes it. It’s very simple, not to mention economical - just clear soup, greens, chicken and mochi. Garnish is optional.

Recipe: Kanto style Ozouni (関東風お雑煮)

For 4 servings

  • 5 cups of dashi stock, using plenty of bonito flakes
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. sake (leave out if you can’t use sake)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 100g / about 3 oz. dark or light meat chicken, cut into bite size pieces
  • About 200g / 6 oz (a bunch) of dark greens, such as komatsuna (traditional), spinach, etc. (I used bok choi here)
  • 4 mochi cakes
  • Pink kamaboko for garnish

Heat up the oven to 200°C / 400°F, or use a toaster oven or grill. Grill or bake the mochi cakes until they puff up a bit. They may get lightly browned on top, which is fine.

Wash and chop the greens roughly.

Heat up the dashi if you premade it. Add the soy sauce, sake and salt. Add the greens, and simmer until limp but still bright green. Add the chicken pieces and simmer a few minutes.

Add the mochi and simmer for a couple of minutes until the mochi is soft, but don’t let it sit too long or the mochi will turn into a sticky goo.

Serve in miso soup bowls, garnished with a slice of pink kamaboko. Other garnishes you can use: mitsuba, chopped green onions, a sprinkle of sansho pepper, zest of yuzu.

Notes

There is a reason for using green leafy vegetables (菜 な na) and chicken (鶏 とり tori). Combined they were ‘read’ na o toru (なをとる)which can mean to advance in life.

Kamaboko is a fish cake. You can find it at any Japanese grocery. The pink kind (actually pink on the outside, white on the inside) is used as garnish here since pink is considered to be a lucky/festive color. You can also use pink-and-white naruto instead.

In the Kyoto area, a white miso soup made with sweet Saikyo miso (see miso primer) is made. It has round vegetables in it for luck and peace - 円満 (えんまん enman) such as taro roots cut into rounds, slices of daikon radish, carrot, etc.

In other regions they add other things. In Hokkaido they might add salmon, crab, salmon caviar (ikura) and so on.

Mochi cakes are also available at a Japanese grocery store. You can get square or round ones. Round ones are traditionally used in the Kansai (Kyoto-Osaka) region and to the west, while square ones are used in the Kanto (Tokyo) region and east/north. Either one is ok to use.

Please be careful when eating mochi, especially when it’s in ozouni. Mochi is very glutinous and dense. Every year, a few people die in Japan around New Year’s from choking on mochi. ou need to bite off small chunks and chew it well. Be careful of giving it to very small children - cut it into very small pieces for them.

Finally, if you’re watching your weight, be aware that one piece of mochi is about 130 calories, so you might want go easy on things like cheese mochi, delicious as it may be.

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Happy New Year to you too !

I was thinking about the Ozouni yesterday and got a bit pitty of myself when I couldn´t go out and buy some mochi cakes just in time for the new year´s first meal.. oh well, I should have bought it earlier then.

Do you use those cakes that come individually packed, “dry” ones? In Brazil we always had the fresh kind one.. when I moved here, I didn´t even know how to use the hard “industrialized” one :D

Heh. I wasn´t a big fan of those “traditions” before, but now for some reason I thought it would be good to create one or another, once there´s almost no tradition at all in New Year´s festivities around here.

karaimame | 2 January, 2009 - 00:09

hard mochi

I do use the hard mochi, because they are convenient. And, it’s not really a recent industrial-only method to have hard dried mochi…people have been drying mochi cakes for later use for a long time.

maki | 2 January, 2009 - 23:41

Yummy!

The soup looks really really good. (Sounds really good right now too) I’ll need to see if I can find the mochi cakes. The biggest New Year’s tradition around here is Black Eyed Pea, Hog Jowel (you can use just pain Ham) and Collard Greens.

BrambleRose | 2 January, 2009 - 05:15

Zenzai

Hi Maki,

Do have a good Zenzai recipe to share? I have a packet of mochi that I’m thinking of eating with red beans.

Thanks,
Jasmine

Jasmine | 2 January, 2009 - 16:24

zenzai

You can take this basic tsubuan recipe, thinned out with water (you may need to adjust the seasoning a bit, probably add a bit more salt), to use as the soup/sauce, and add some grilled mochi (as in the ozouni recipe) to it.

maki | 2 January, 2009 - 23:39

Good Ozoni

We made our Ozoni late Thursday and it turned out great.
The homemade mochi puffed up too much, but was good.

For ours, eight items please! (Not sure why, Keiko said so. Me being gaijin I just learn to accept it.)

Mochi, fish cake (the pink type you used is about $5-$6 cheaper than the festive New Year’s type with a design in the middle of the white part - flower I think), daikon, carrot, shitake, chrisanthamum leaves, dried salted squid and salmon belly. Oh, and chopped green onion as garnish. (Does that count as nine?)

The salmon belly was baked separately and added in the bowl. Daikon, carrot and shitake simmered a little while with the stock.

It was yummy!

Happy New Year’s

greggle | 3 January, 2009 - 18:33

OMG never heard people could

OMG never heard people could die eating ozouni - nice topic to start a conversation next time I eat ozouni

Ebi | 5 January, 2009 - 08:34

mochi+cheese

I went to a fondue party last year where we had toasted mochi dipped in cheese fondue, and wrapped in seaweed. Soooo good!

Pat | 6 January, 2009 - 23:02

Hawai'ian-Japanese Variation

My mother was born in Honolulu, so our family (Japanese) recipes are usually more Hawai'ian-Japanese recipes...

Our ozouni has mochi (obviously), chicken, kamaboko, shiitake, watercress or hakusai (napa cabbage), and the very important satoimo (taro root).

[Ozouni should be simple, in my opinion, in accordance with the tradition of not doing work on the first day/s of the New Year. However, my uncle's family's ozouni has 20 ingredients! O_o;;]

We also toast extra mochi to be eaten with shoyu-sugar (make a mound of sugar in a dish, only add *just* enough shoyu so its absorbed into the sugar -- not pooling at the bottom).

zyzzyva | 8 January, 2009 - 03:26

Re: Ozouni or ozohni or ozoni: Mochi soup for the New Year

My parents' versions of ozouni are very simple, probably b/c they're from more rural parts of Japan. Sometimes we have Tokushima-style ozouni which is hakusai miso-shiru and mochi. I prefer my mom's version from Shimane, a simple katsuo-based dashi flavoured with some soy and served with a huge mound of katsuobushi. Mmmm... happy new year!

Saori | 10 January, 2009 - 20:15

Re: Mochi

hi Maki,
I've been looking at your mochi recipes, and I'd really like to try some. None of the stores near me sell mochi cakes though. Do you have a good recipe for homemade mochi cakes? I do have a big bag of sweet/glutinous rice, and a good grain grinder if rice flour is needed.
Thanks so much.

Hanna | 13 April, 2009 - 01:36

Re: Ozouni or ozohni or ozoni: Mochi soup for the New Year

Thanks for the recipe. I'm not from Japan and that is why I've never tried it. But it looks so nice. I've found a nice Ozohni video . But is it really gives rest for a cook? Because I doubt it.

Rain11 | 25 December, 2010 - 11:45

Re: Ozouni or ozohni or ozoni: Mochi soup for the New Year

It was fabulous going to Japan for New Year's and visiting the temple, although it would have probably been a better experience to visit when the sakura blossoms and more shops are open.
Happy New Year! Thanks so much for the detailed explanation of the mochi recipes. Really great! I love learning about new dishes.

Kizzie Pensa | 19 September, 2011 - 12:33

Re: Ozouni or ozohni or ozoni: Mochi soup for the New Year

In a pinch you can make your own mochi pretty easily. If you have sticky rice, you just steam it in a rice cooker or pot and take it out when it's still warm. Then stir it around in a big bowl or on a plate and bang it a bit with a wooden spoon while turning it around and over and kneading it. It will be sticky, so flour the bowl or plate and your hands with as much rice flour as you need. You can lift and drop the dough and knead it for as long as you can, or until the dough loses the individual rice grain texture and becomes smoother. It should be a bit elastic and resilient. Then you pinch pieces off and form them into flattish round cakes and put them on a floured plate to dry. I cover them loosely with waxed paper and turn them over occasionally. Use as much rice flour as necessary so they don't stick but don't over-flour them.

Even if the mochi are rustic and still a bit soft and retain some of the rice grain, they will be lovely in the soup. If your mochi turn out soft, grilling them first is optional.

vj | 2 January, 2013 - 17:38

amazing recipe

Mochi soup for the new year it was a very nice plan, we have made this at home for the new year. We had it from a restaurant last week. We all are very impressed with it. So decided to make it and found your recipe on the site and I have to say that it was very marvelous soup.go here
'

makkara samara | 9 January, 2014 - 12:23

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