Immersed in the holiday sprits of January (正月 or Shogatsu), Japanese family will eat the traditional Shogatsu food such as sushi, sashimi or Osechi. Among them, the most traditional and delicious food would be Mochi (餅).
What is Mochi?
Mochi is rice cake made of Mochi-gome, which is steamed, pounded and shaped like a thin ball or square. The texture is more chewy than rice. It goes well with Soy sause, Nori (sea weed), suger, Anko, Kinako, so it can be a sweet or a meal in the new year holidays. That is why it is popular not only for children but for elders.
The traditional making process is also eye-catching with two men cooperating to pound it by a mortar and a mallet, which gives the atmosphere of Shogatsu.
So I strongly recommend you, tourists, to try Mochi once during your staying in Japan, however, please remember Mochi is one of the most deadly Japanese food too.
The fire and disaster Management Agency of Japan reported 94 people were taken to hospitals in Tokyo in 2017 and half of them were already dead or in serious conditions when taken there. 90% of the patients were more than 65 years old with the vertex at 80-84 years old.
Mochi is pretty soft when just cooked in a hot water or stock, but it is suddenly cooled in a mouth and becomes rather hard and sticky. Elders who get weak at swallowing especially have difficulty handling hardened Mochi. It ends up choke them with Mochi adhering in a throat. When they eat Mochi on their own and gets choked, it is often too late to resuscitate in a hospital. Therefore some doctors recommend elders not to eat Mochi in the first place or at least to eat a small piece with their family present.
But I EAT It! Various Ways of Enjoying Mochi
Why do they eat such a dangerous food with their lives at risk? You will know the reason when you see various kinds of cooking Mochi and you will find your favorite:)
- Isobeyaki (磯辺焼き)Baked mochi is wrapped with seaweed and dipped in soy sauce. The savory smell fills your mouth which makes you eat it forever. Some also like to add sugar in soy sauce making it.
- Ozouni (お雑煮)
Mochi is put in a bowl of stock accompanied with shiitake, kamaboko or mitsuba (clover). It is served as a meal during the Shogatsu holiday.
- Oshiruko (おしるこ)
Mochi is put in a sweet porridge of azuki beans. Children and women like it because it is rather sweet.
- Anko-mochi (あんこ餅) and Kinako-mochi (きなこ餅)
Anko-mochi is mochi coated with sweet anko (azuki beans paste). Kinako-mochi is coated with roasted soybean flour and sugar.
- Kagami-mochi (鏡餅)
Kagami-mochi was originally sacred offerings made to the gods. After offered during Shogatsu period they crack the mochi to eat. The double layers of mochi express yin and yang (陰陽) to mean good relations in family in the new year.
I hope you can find the favorite, even if not, you can make huge varieties of mochi recipes other than this article. See you then.