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!