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Mochi: Preserving a New Year's tradition

Mochi

In a bright, modern home in a Monterey Park neighborhood, three generations of a Japanese American family made way for the new year with an ancient tradition. A hundred pounds of glutinous rice had been soaking since the previous night. In the morning, the rice was drained, steamed and pounded into a soft, sticky mass. Then the Akiyoshi-Katayama family -- three grandparents, four parents and six children, along with assorted friends -- lined up at a long table for the final step in the process of making Japanese rice cakes known as mochi. Read more here.

Photo: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

 
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It's so great to see this family coming together over mochitsuki. We made mochi in our 4 generation house this year too, after an over 20 year break. Looks like it will be a tradition for us as well. My 5 yr old had fun and we eat the stuff at least 3 times a week. It's great breakfast food. But my favorite is making it with "yomogi," a type of chrysanthemum green and stuffing that with "anko," red bean paste. Toast one of them in the in the toaster oven, place it in a bowl of hot water with a dash of salt and you have a super yummy treat. This is my motivation for going through the work of making mochi. It's kind of like the Japanese version of tamale making. Happy eating!

Careful giving the stuff to young children and the older folks. It can be a choking hazard.

The "best" is to add "azuki" beans (sweet red beans) inside the center of the mochi ball. Then put inside the toaster oven for 2 minutes. Also good is chocolate centers but use tin foil in case it drips in the toaster oven. Otherwise, the traditional way is to put the mochi in the boiler and let it brown but be careful to watch it closely or it will burn fast. Dip in a sauce consisting of sugar and soy sauce stirred together.

Another dish is "ozoni" is a soup with mochi balls.

Happy New Year! & o-bonsai appetit


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