Mochi Making 2013 - My Family's Annual Mochitsuki

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mochi 2013
Mochitsuki 2013
Making thousands of mochi for New Year's with my family and friends

On Saturday, it was time for my family's annual Mochi Making day! We thought they started this tradition in 1955, but my dad remembers it even earlier - sometime after they returned to the Los Angeles area after World War II (the family was interned in Jerome, Arkansas and Gila River, Arizona because they were Japanese American) so it was probably even before 1955. It is a long family tradition to make mochi for the New Year.

I've posted about our mochi day on the blog several times, and my friend JustJenn writes about joining us and then making all the yummy Japanese New Year's foods (along with some Southern California Japanese American classics). Here is a pictorial view of my family's mochi day that included many special friends and guests - including my friends from Connecticut who were adopted into the family immediately.

Mochitsuki making posts:  2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2007

Mochi 2013
130 pounds of rice. So much rice. It's a Koda Farm California special premium sweet rice that has beautiful large kernels. After soaking overnight, it is steamed and then placed in a grinder with extruder. The pounded rice that comes out is boiling hot.

Mochi 2013
After it comes out of the machine, a catcher quickly rolls it into a ball and places it on a tray. This year, we debuted a new system - Muffin Tins! This kept our mochi more consistent. Over the last few years, our mochi was spreading out too much, resulting in a too thin mochi. The muffin tins solve that problem! And yes, that was me at Target mid-day buying up all their tins.

Here is a quick little Instagram video of the process I made:

The mochi cool for a bit in the tray and then are placed on a table sprinkled with mochiko powder (rice flour). Yes, there are six tables (each 6 foot long) covered in plastic for this process...and it keeps repeating itself all day!

The cool mochi are gathered up and await packaging into boxes for delivery to friends and relatives.

Photos can't really detail how many hands you need for this operation. It's a full-on production line. We have a minimum of 20 people working a shift at a time - from kids to grandparents!

And what happens when we take a break? We eat!

Mochi 2013
There are two tables of savories. All Japanese American gatherings in Los Angeles have a boatload of Mexican food. We had two types of enchiladas, chili and tamales (that we cooked in the rice steamer - so fusion, no?) I made a ton of Spam Musubi - always a favorite. I'll post the recipe and details soon. My aunt makes a killer Chinese Chicken Salad and my cousins made awesome Kalbi BBQ beef. And then there was the Mac and Cheese, Chow Mein, Fried Chicken, Sushi, Sushi Rice with Toppings, another homemade chili, and much much more. You didn't go hungry!

But you have to save room for dessert too!

JustJenn's famous red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Cousin Emily's homemade cookies

Auntie Linda's delicious cookie tray

We picked up some sweetened mochi from Fugetsu-do Japanese confectionery store

JustJenn also made a delicious Jello treat

...and we also had some lovely 7 layer Jello too!

The day is long. The preparation is exhausting (my cousin and I need to clear out three rooms of the house), but continuing a tradition to the fourth generation of our family is awesome.

Happy New Year to you and your family! May you have a wonderful 2014 filled with happiness, family and friends!

Mochi - Homemade An (Red Bean) MochiNote: The mochi we made is NOT sweet mochi - it is a savory, plain mochi mostly used in a special new years soup (ozoni) or toasted and eaten with soy sauce, sugar or soybean powder (kinako).

However, lots of people end up at this post looking for more sweet mochi dishes, so here are a few I've made on the blog:

Dessert mochi treats (gluten free!):
Sweet Mochi with Red Bean Filling (pictured)
Blueberry Mochi Cake
Chocolate Mochi Brownie Squares
Zunda Mochi
Cherry Mochi Cakes
Matcha Mochi Cupcakes

Also, be sure to buy JustJenn's cookbook: Mochi: Recipes from Savory to Sweet! Vol. 1 for more recipes and ideas!
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kirbie said... [Reply to comment]

This is my favorite post from you every year! I saw the non-sweet mochi at the supermarket the other day and thought of you and your annual mochi making.

gigi ormsby said... [Reply to comment]

Wow - what a wonderful tradition. thanks for sharing

wanderingeducators said... [Reply to comment]

Very cool! I remember photos from last year - the muffin tins are genius!

Cris said... [Reply to comment]

I agree--I love the annual mochi making post! Except for how hungry it makes me. And how much it makes me miss LA and you.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

just loved reading this post. i'm from hawaii and miss these japanese new years traditions of mochi making, fireworks, etc. also your spam musubi looks amazing - i need to make some soon, haven't had one in too long. happy new year!

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