We don’t know exactly why Japanese people started to eat Ozoni, and there are various stories about its origin. But what stays the same in any Ozoni recipe is the Japanese-style soup stock, the mochi, and other ingredients (like vegetables, fish) that are the main ingredients.
What is mochi?
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice that is much more sticky than regular rice.
The glutinous rice is steamed and worked like this.
Various ways to eat mochi.
The most famous way of eating mochi is to grill it, like in this picture. Or you can simply eat it like that (without grilling it), just after it has been steamed.
Various tastes depending on the region.
On this map of Japan, different symbols and colors to show how people eat Ozoni across the country.
Different kind of mochi.
◆Round shaped mochi and square shaped mochi.
On the map above, the square symbol □ is used to show that people of this region eat square shaped mochi and boil it instead of grilling it. The round symbol ○ represents the region where people eat boiled round shaped mochi.
◆Grilled round and square shaped mochi.
This square symbol ■ represents regions where people eat grilled square shaped mochi, and this symbol ● is for the grilled round shaped mochi.
On the map, in the regions with blue round symbol, people eat mochi with “An” inside. “An” comes from Anko which is red beans (azuki) sweetened and transformed into a paste.
Different types of soups
In the regions colored in light blue on the map, we use a clear soup called Sumashi. It’s a Japanese style soup stock made from Kombu or Katsuo. The essence of chicken or other dry food that you use can give it even more flavor.
◆White miso soup
The regions in yellow on the map represents the area where we eat mochi with this opaque white soup. This is white miso, we don’t let it mature as long as the regular miso. We mix white miso and Japanese style soup stock to get this white opaque soup.
Miso is a Japanese fermented food that is produced by fermenting cereal grains. It has been used for a very long time and it’s one basic and essential ingredient in Japanese cooking.
Regions in purple on the map are the areas where people eat mochi with red beans (azuki) and azuki soup. It’s really sweet, like the Anko we showed you above. Some versions can also be salted.
A weird Ozoni?
Kagawa prefecture’s Ozoni.
As you can see on the map, we eat Ozoni with an “An” mochi only in the Kagawa prefecture. It has a salted Japanese style soup with a sweet “An” mochi that is very surprising for Japanese living in other prefectures. It is strangely good so, if you’re in Japan for the New Year, try the Ozoni of your prefecture!