In Japan, Japanese New Year, or Oshogatsu, is the most important holiday of the year and is observed on January 1st. Many businesses close down for several days so that families can indulge in celebratory feast days.
Ozoni is one of the main dishes eaten on New Year’s Day. It traditionally consists of mochi or sticky Japanese rice cake served as a soup. This simplified recipe doesn’t contain too many ingredients ,so the mochi is the star of this dish—it's so versatile that your child can use whatever favorite vegetables she prefers. This is a healthy and delicious dish simple enough to make with your kid any time of the year to encourage exploration of other culinary cultures!
What You Do:
- Help your child prepare all of the ingredients, starting with the carrot. Peel the carrot and slice it at its widest part. Use the food cutter to create flowers.
- Next, show your child how to cut three slits off the top of the shiitake mushroom cap, creating a star pattern.
- Help your child thinly slice the green onion.
- In a large pot, bring the water, dashi and chicken stock to a boil.
- Have your child add the carrots, green onion and shiitake mushrooms into the pot and simmer until they are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Add the mochi and simmer for approximately 15 minutes more, until it is very soft.
- Taste and add soy sauce if desired.
- Enjoy your Japanese New Year’s soup and say, “Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu!” (It is pronounced phonetically and means “Happy New Year” in Japanese.)
Optional ingredients and alternative method:
Traditional recipes for ozoni call for chicken, daikon, cabbage or komatsuna, and taro, but in this instance, feel free to use your child’s favorite vegetables. The idea is to have your child taste mochi, the key ingredient in this traditional New Year’s dish. Also, many people prefer to broil the mochi in the oven for about 5 minutes until it gets puffy and crispy on the outside, rather than cooking it until it gets really soft. When broiled, the mochi can also be enjoyed on its own, with soy sauce.