Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Omochitsuki

You ask ‘omo’ what? Yes, omochitsuki, meaning ‘the pounding of the rice cakes’ ceremony as a Japanese New Year tradition. Now, we know Japanese do not follow the lunar calendar like Chinese and Koreans, so to them it's January 1 like the western world. Hehe, but since today is Chinese New Year Eve, I’d like to bring up this wonderful customs here.

Now, what do you need in an omochitsuki ceremony? Obviously, you start with rice – a symbol of good crops from God’s blessings, a large usu (a wooden mortar), a kine (a long wooden mallet) and VERY VERY strong muscles! (yes, this one is perfect :)


Next, you steam the rice (lots and lots of it) in this multi-layer steamer. Hehe, sure sounds like I am teaching a cooking class here. 'Lots and lots of rice' because omochitsuki is a community affair for families, friends and neighbours to socialize and celebrate togetherness.



Then you just place the steamy hot rice in this usu and pound it with all your might with the kine (as if your enemy is inside that wooden barrel, hahaha!)


While you smash the rice with your kine, the other person has to turn the gluey dough around in the usu. The timing is most crucial in this dare-devil act, otherwise instead of enjoying red bean mochi, you’ll be munching on some 'fingers & bones’ filling, yikes! We don’t want that, do we? When the dough becomes soft and gluey, it is ready to be molded into little round balls to be coated with sweetened flour.


Hehe this is the best part - you then flatten the mochi into rice cake and can dip it in red bean paste ...

or chopped nuts ...

or soy sauce & wrapped in seaweed. Not all, ok?

I didn’t really try the mochi myself as I am not keen on gluey sticky food. My son however, who happens to be the most unadventurous eater, had asked for a second, even a third helping!


As you are enjoying your Chinese New Year's Eve dinner with your family, I’d like to wish all the Chinese sisters Kung Hei Fat Choy! or in Japanese – akemashite omedeto gozaimasu! Wish you and your family a very prosperous Year of the Rats!

17 comments:

bb said...

me love food, particularly sticky gooey food... :p and oh man, with red bean paste too?!! my all-time fave too! (hee, how come i've so many fave foods huh...?)

err... have to ask this, you went to one of these omo$*&(*%#%@ making sessions, and the pics are from there? sounds like fun! the watching part, i mean... i think it's abit of real hard work to be pounding that mallet thingy in the mortar thingy... :p

thanks for sharing!

vegasbyj said...

Dear Jaime!

GONG XI FA CAI!!

Wishing you and your family all the best for the Lunar New Year - the Year of the Rat!

While in Hawaii during the new year, many families gather to "pound mochi" for the new year, a tradition for most. Lots of hard work - good to bring the family together.

take care!

judy said...

Hi Chinggu!

Whowowowow! you do sound like a cooking guru with this post. If only the presence of the VERY, VERY strong muscles from Brussels, errrrrrr, from South Korea can be seen with you cooking, hehehheheh, then I believe that even the most experienced chef in all of Baeland would be glued watching you & HRH mixing, mashing, pounding, wrapping, dipping (this is making me sound like a desperate & deprived housewife, hahahahah!), and whatever you'll end up doing with afterwards(hopefully tasting the finished Omochitsuki & not whatever you are thinking of doing, heheheheh!).

Seems like being in Baewonderland had done wonders to you. After all the grueling shopping, rushing here & there, buying these & that , you still manage to put your awesome humor into action. That is why I cannot resist visiting here daily(okay, plus the fact that I enjoy your updates & waiting for some naughty response from all your friends).

Enjoy your Japanese New Year & Kiong Hee Huat Zai(in my native tongue).

Love yah, Judy

jaime said...

yeah bb, that's the omochitsuki I watched. hehe, if you like gooey food, you'll like the gosireh mochi dessert we had today :)
will blog about it soon.

love ... jaime

jaime said...

hi hi vegas,

yeah, there are so many japanese descendents in hawaii. you mush be familiar w/ this customs. Ever flex your muscles on that?

love .... jaime

jaime said...

hi dear chinggu,

hehe, hot, sticky, gluey and HRH do sound good all mixed together, eh? wait till you hear about my lunch at gosireh today, you're gonna tear my head off :)

but sorry, very tired today, maybe I'll blog tomorrow. hope u had a great CNY dinner :)

love ... jaime

jaime said...

Hi again Chinggu!

Me, tearing your head off? Hmmmm, "THAT" worthy of my wrath, eh? hehehehe! do they make life-size USUs that will fit you inside & a KINE that will surely make you think that what you posted here is like a dose of your own medicine? (as if your enemy is inside that wooden barrel, accdg. to yah, hhehehhehe!).

What a wonderful way to start our renewed dispute for 2008, hehehehehe! Will be waiting for that Gosireh meeting today & will decide what other manipulative measures to take in case you win over this time, hahahhaah!

BTW, love our princess bb's replies & all the other sisters who visit here. Gong Xi Fac Cai everyone!

Love, judy

jaime said...

hahaha, life size usu?! chinggu you, the ultimate torture machine :)

Anonymous said...

This so interesting
I did not know much about the Lunar traditions
Thank you for sharing this with us.

Oh love the pick of the muscles
and the way you ilustraded is just right to me.

Oh the one of the towel is one of my favorites of all time, if I could wake up to a sight like that

I would just wach him shave evry morning
so thank you for making my morning a happy one.

Moontime

jaime said...

hehe moontime,

Talking about muscles, I remember one time when there was a snowstorm in TO and hubby was away, I had to shovel the snow. It was so exhausting, I almost wanted to cry. I kept chanting to myself : if only BYJ were here to help me, it'll be fine since he is so strong. Was I silly or what?

I hope he knows how much mental support he gives us.

love ... jaime

Anonymous said...

Hi,I'm Yoko from Japan.

Mochi is my fave food, especially those just pounded is so good with anything. I'm a Japanese ,living in Japan for some decades, but I didn't have many chances to make and eat them. In my childhood it's just once as long as i remember.That was at my grandparents' house. But they didn't invite grandchildren at other years or they stopped it after that.

Time has passed and now these days children seem to have more chances to experience it coz people are afraid of losing this tradition and trying to prevent it. It's not only for Mochitsuki but other our traditional things ie. trditional toys.

Your posting encouraged me to hold a moci party. You know, I bought rice cake machine last year and it's rather big. It works perfectly with 3kg rice. This year supposed to be its debut but I caught a cold at the end of the year and was obliged to go to a supermaket.


We Japanese enjoy mochi but Koreans also enjoy it in another way. They put suger in it and there are many variaty of types with nuts and others to make them each differennt color. I tried to eat some in Seoul and I'm looking forward to trying another one at my next visit.

Have a good day.

HeippieH said...

Dear Jaime, a belated Happy Chinese New Year! And GONG XI FA CAI to you and your family, and to everyone here!

Love your posts, very informational and educational! Well adding the HRH part, it is entertaining too. Seeing you fighting this endless fighht with Judy is hilarious. I am trying to be a peacemaker, but here I do see a good reason to fight. So keep it up you both.

Love and hugs!

jaime said...

hi yoko,

thanks for visiting my blog. I am happy to know that this reminds you of your childhood mochi making days. Yes, I have seen a very large scale one on the street on my last visit, but I had no idea what they were doing back then. This time I am able to enjoy it more.

I heard that there are machines that make it now. It must be what you have. Do you like red beans with it? I think Chinese have a dessert like that too.

Thanks for your comment, it's nice to hear about your experience. Please take care!

love ... jaime

jaime said...

hi dear h,

hehe, that cat fight between chinggu and me will not end until we actually meet face to face and settle it once and for all, I think :)

Kung Hei Fat Choy to you too. Do you have a busy Chinese New Year?

love ... jaime

bb said...

hehe, in singapore, we have mochi stuffed with ice-cream... i like i like i like!!

Anonymous said...

The first picture: is that bae yong jun shaving? lol? it is just inserted randomly. . .haha.

lisapham2649@msn.com

jaime said...

Hehe lisapham,

not a random picture at all. I need BYJ's muscles for mochi pounding :)

regards ... jaime