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Celebrate the Year of the Dragon with onigiri

January 5, 2012 |  4:39 pm

Onigiri rice balls
Get into the firey spirit of the Year of the Dragon with a mochi-pounding demonstration and an onigiri contest at the Japanese American National Museum on Sunday. It's all part of a day-long festival called the Oshogatsu Family Festival, which also includes plenty of arts and crafts, entertainment and cultural activities.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. you and yours can learn how to make onigiri rice balls and enter the contest, which is sponsored by Common Grains, an organization that celebrates japanese culture and food through grain education.

Here's how it works: Participants will be given a cup of cooked rice to make a tasty onigiri in 10 minutes or less (after you've been taught how to do it with style, of course). Everything you need for the contest will be given to you, so no smuggling in some magic ingredient.

When you finish, Los Angeles Times Food editor Russ Parsons, joined by judges including food blogger Lynn Chen and Sunny Blue shop owner Keiko Nakashima, will judge the results. Six winners will be crowned victorious in both children's and adult categories, and prizes will be awarded accordingly.

Also on the menu of the day's events are artisanal rice and soba workshops, a rice exhibition, a soba restaurant event, and at 2:30 and 4 p.m. a traditional rice cake pounding ceremony (called Mochitsuki) demonstration and performance by Kodama Taiko.

Sunday, January 8, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. For more information go to: www.janm.org/events.

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-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Salmon onigiri. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

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