Dec 29
Clear Broth Ozouni

Ozouni, a soup made with mochi (glutinous rice cakes), is a popular Japanese New Year dish with a long history.  It has been considered strictly a dish for the New Year since the time of the Muromachi period (1336 — 1573).  The ingredients included in the soup vary greatly, depending on the region or even the family, where it’s made.  Mochi are small cakes made from glutinous rice that has been pounded into a paste and then molded into a shape.  Mochi can be fresh, or bought in dried form.

Cooking mochi for ozouni

Mochi was a food prepared for the gods, and each region makes it differently.  Ozouni broths also vary, being made with meat or fish based broths, or even vegetarian broths. When I asked my friend Noriko about her family’s ozouni traditions, she wrote:

It’s traditional in most Japanese families to make the type of ozouni from the paternal side of the family for the first day or two, and then the type of ozouni from the maternal side of the family for maybe the third day . . . So in my family, we always had shiro miso ozouni (white miso ozouni) because my dad is from Kyoto, and we also had a very simple clear broth ozouni which my mom ate when she was growing up (her father is originally from Kochi Prefecture) . . . Both of my husband’s parents are from Mie and grew up eating clear broth ozouni that was meatless and only had hakusai in it . . . My husband told me he prefers to have more stuff in his ozouni, so I make the shiro miso and clear broth ozouni I grew up eating.

Whatever form it comes in though, ozoni means good luck, and having a bowl of it on January 1st is a fantastic way to start the new year!

Cut carrot and daikon into thin planksSimmering the mochi in the soup

The variety of ozouni I am most familiar with is the Tokyo style—a simple clear broth filled with bits of chicken, vegetables, and a piece of mochi, so I’m sharing my friend Noriko’s recipe for this type of ozouni first.

Bowl of Clear Broth Ozouni

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Clear Broth Ozouni

Recipe as shared by my friend Noriko

Makes 4 servings

4-inch piece dried kombu
4 cups water
2.5 inch piece daikon, cut into thin planks
2.5 inch piece carrot, cut into thin planks
4 circle mochi cakes (or rectangle cakes)
3 ounces boneless skinless chicken thigh, cut into small bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons usukuchi soy sauce (light colored soy sauce)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Make the kombu dashi: The best way to make this stock is to soak the kombu in the water overnight, covered, in the refrigerator, then discard the kombu and use the stock. Quick method: Allow the kombu to soak in the water in a saucepan for 30 minutes. Then place the saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as bubbles start to appear, remove the kombu from the water and remove the saucepan from the heat. Do not let the liquid come to a boil, as the kombu will then give the stock a bitter flavor.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Cook the daikon and carrot pieces in a pot of boiling water until tender, then set aside.

4. Bake the pieces of mochi in the preheated oven until they puff up slightly. Don’t worry if they lightly brown on top.

5. Bring the kombu dashi to a boil and add the chicken. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through. (Cooking time will vary depending on how big the pieces of chicken are.) Add the daikon and carrot. Season the broth with the soy sauce and salt. Add the mochi and simmer for a couple of minutes until the mochi is soft.

6. To serve: Pour a bit of soup into each bowl, to prevent the mochi from sticking to the bowl, then add the mochi, then the chicken, daikon, and carrot. Finish by adding the broth. Serve immediately.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kaname650 December 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Yum! I too will be enjoying a bowl of Noriko’s ozoni for New Year’s because that’s my sister’s japanese name. Bachan always made a clear ozoni when I was a kid so I’ve never tried the shiro miso variety, but it sounds delicious.


Kimberly (unrivaledkitch) December 29, 2011 at 5:59 pm

lovely. My favorite soup of the year. My bachan’s is a bit different. I love all the variations :) thanks for sharing!


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