01 January, 2010

O-zoni in Nova Scotia (Belated Happy New Year)

I wrote this post one month ago but had to delay posting it because I misplaced the USB cord for my new camera. Found at last, I've decided to put it up, even though it's late. I made a simple dashi by simmering konbu for awhile and adding some seven-herb powder from Japan that I've been hoarding, along with a bit of mirin and ume-shu. I "grilled" some firm tofu in a dry cast iron pan and I used only white miso. You can find a recipe for a similar soup I wrote a recipe for earlier, here. And for all you Tigers out there, this is your year, so enjoy!

Like most of Japan, I find I want o-zoni for New Year's, but the only way I'm going to taste it is if I make it at home. When I lived in Japan all the ingredients were pretty easy to come by. We made the white miso version in Kagawa, or at least some of us did, for ozoni, just like regular miso soup, was made differently in every home and depended a lot on which part of the country the maker came from. Since some families had parents or grand-parents from different prefectures, they might make two kinds of soup to satisfy the seasonal cravings. I found I was happy with white miso soup but that I didn't really like the mochi with the sweet bean paste filling that often went with it. I preferred a plain mochi.

Today is New Year's day. I woke up and unexpectedly needed to watch the sunrise and eat ozoni. So on with my coat and out onto the balcony to see the smudges of pink of the rising sun. Then to the kitchen, where I rustled up a small batch of genmai (brown rice) mochi, kneading it by hand, and some nice filling ozoni to plop it in. Having toasted the mochi and eaten some of it in the soup, I find my Japanese soul relieved and refreshed and it seems easier to imagine a fresh start in 2010, as soft grey rolls in over the water and whisps of snow pirouette in the air.

Happy New Year!!!


butuki said...

I love o-zoni! I try to eat it every year and this year was no different. My former wife's mother used to make a special o-zoni using konyaku and chili peppers that I really loved. I couldn't quite figure out what she did with it, so my attempt this year was less than spectacular. I did try a Greek avgolemono soup the other day with o-mocchi in it... it was fantastic!

vegetablej said...

The chili peppers sound fantastic in o-zoni but I have to admit I don't like konyaku much, really one of the few japanese foods I don't like.(It's a liitle like grey rubber, to me. The other thing is hijiki, which has a pretty strong mucous-y aftertaste.)

Even so, I can imagine it was good, because when the konyaku sops up the miso soup flavour, it should be better.

Now that avgolemono soup does sound good and with mochi, so much the better! Was there rice in there, too? I love adding leftover cooked rice to my miso soup.

Yay for fusion foods!

Cha-chan said...

You celebrated New Year in Japan-style, too! :-) I'm so happy to hear that you've settled in to a nice apartment and have your own kitchen again.

My hubby and I are buying a house and plan to move into it and a few months, so we are also looking forward to a bit more stability. Here's to HOME in 2010!

vegetablej said...

Good news,Cha-chan! Hope you will soon have a lovely, warm home, with maybe a tokonoma?


seamaiden said...

Hey VegJ! Do you have a RSS feed by any chance? I was looking and couldn't find one. I want to make sure and see any new posts!

How's it going? ozoni=yummy!


Ruahines said...

Kia ora VJ,
Hope this finds you well happy, and cooking up some delightful treats. Thought I would pop in and write Kia Ora! I stop in all the time when I make the garlic sauce to just double check, but am getting pretty good at it now. A batch does not last very long with these hungry boys eyeing it up. Kia kaha.

vegetablej said...

Hi seamaiden!

Thanks for popping in. I'm afraid I don't understand RSS cmpletely yet but I do know that if you have a blogger blog that you can sign up as a follower on your dashboard page and I think they send you posts from there.

I'm a bit overwhelmed with my job lately, hence the low post number but I will try to research RSS as time permits.

I popped over to your blog and see congratulations are in order. BABY YUM? Wow! Do you have any pictures?

The best to all the Yum family!!!

vegetablej said...

Hi Rob:

I'm okay, though overloaded and underpaid at work, a bit tired these days so not as many posts as I wish.

But spring's a comin, I think, and who knows but maybe more energy with it.

So glad you found a household standard in the tomato sauce. I just made a batch of gluten-free pizza with it and ate probably way too much.:)

Take care of yourself and all that family!


I_am_Tulsa said...

Wow! I can't believe you made o-mochi yourself! I live in Japan and haven't even tried to do that!

Osaka uses miso with o-zoni, but having Iived in Kyushu for a long time, I make a clear broth with seaweed, shitake mushrooms and soy sauce.

I hope you get more time to blog soon!

vegetablej said...

Hi I_am_Tulsa:

In Japan I attended a New Year's party, making mochi the traditional way -- we were outdoors with two people pounding the dough alternately with big wooden mallets. Trouble with that is that you get a lot of wooden splinters in the dough. I also heard many of my students talk about using machines; most households seem to have them.

With these clues, and my, shall we say, expert tasting esperience, I realized they couldn't be that hard to make. After all, they only have one ingredient, or two if you count the water needed to cook the rice. The key is to get mochi rice (short grain, glutinous). You just steam the rice and then when it's still hot but you can just barely handle it, gather it into a ball and start to work it (knead it) on a board dusted with white rice flour. It actually comes together quite quickly. I suppose if you don't like kneading you could give it a few good whacks with an udon stick or wooden spoon. Just keep kneading it until it becomes a bit springy and rather smooth.(Takes awhile, but good therapy.) Then divide it into balls, flatten them out, making sure everything is dusted well with rice flour.

You can cook them right away, but I found that if you dry them on a plate for awhile, maybe overnight, then they will puff up better in the toaster oven. I really like the puffed ones for eating _out_ of o-zoni.

The ones in the picture were made with brown mochi rice, so they are a little more rustic, and I think they taste better.

If you try them, let me know!