Mochitsuki: get your luck for the New Year.

Mochitsuki: get extra luck while savoring delicious sweets.

This year, I was lucky enough to be invited to a traditional Japanese new year gathering oshougatsu (お正月), in the mountains of Yamaguchi.
One of the traditions we followed was “mochitsuki” which consists in the making of mochi (rice cake).

Mochi is a Japanese tradition since Heian period (794-1185), it was eaten to bring good fortune for the coming year since “mochi”‘s pronunciation is similar to “to hold” or “to have”.
Mochi is so culturally significant that in Japan, the shadows in the moon are interpreted as rabbits pounding mochi.

Steps of mochitsuki

  1. The day before, the mochigome (餅米) (sweet rice) is rinsed and left to soak overnight.
  2. Early the next morning, the rice is placed into seiro (蒸篭), wooden squares stacked on top of each other for steaming.
  3. The steamed rice is placed in a large usu (碓), or mortar usually made of wood. There are 2 people or more involved in this step: one to swing a kine (杵), mallet to hit the rice and one to turn the rice every time. This continues until the mochi is perfectly smooth and shiny.
    In our case, these 2 last steps were done by a nice machine 🙂
  4. The next step is to place the mochi on a wooden plank covered in mochiko (sweet rice flour) and create flattened bun-shape delicious mochi. You can make plain or anko (sweet bean paste) versions. The mochi gets compact when cool, so you are supposed to grill it before eating.


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