NEW YEAR’S IS ONE OF THE BEST TIMES IN JAPAN – at least for eating. Shogatsu, the New Year’s holiday, is celebrated from midnight on December 31 until January 3 or 4, or even longer by diehards.
No New Year’s banquet would be complete without a bowl of zoni, soup with toasted mochi (pounded rice cakes). While most Japanese dishes differ from region to region, zoni varies virtually from house to house. This zoni, a variation of the Kyoto-style, uses sweet white miso paste, and is one of my favorites..
Although I live in the States, I continue to celebrate Japanese New Year’s to this day with my daughter, albeit in a less traditional and fancy way. We look forward to it every year. It is a welcome ritual to closing out the year. And yes, a lot, okay, way too much mochi is consumed!
- 10 ½ oz. small taro satoimo, peeled, rubbed with salt, rinsed, and kept in a bowl of water to prevent discoloration until ready to cook
- 3 ½ oz. carrots peeled and cut into thick rounds
- 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms optional, stems cut, with a criss-cross incision made on the cap
- 4 ½ cups dashi fish stock*
- 2 tablespoons white miso fermented soybean paste, or more if you like it very sweet
- 8 mochi cakes
- Fresh trefoil or parboiled spinach optional
- To garnish:
- A few slivers of yuzu Japanese citron peel
- A handful of dried bonito flakes
Boil the taro, carrots, and mushrooms (if you decide to use them) in the dashi stock for roughly 10 minutes, until soft enough to be pierced with a toothpick.
Take a few tablespoons of the hot stock out of the pot and combine with the miso in a small bowl. When thoroughly blended, incorporate back into the soup.
Meanwhile toast the mochi until they begin to swell. Then add them to the soup, swirl around until warmed, and turn off the heat.
To serve, pour the soup into four deep bowls, making sure there are two mochi in the middle of each bowl. At the last moment, add any greens, and top with a sliver or two of yuzu peel and a sprinkling of bonito flakes. Serve immediately.