Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Zōni, a Traditional Japanese Soup with Mochi Rice Cakes and Duck Breast 鴨肉入り雑煮




Happy New Year - 2013, the year of the snake - may we stay connected during the new year as the previous one (not my best translation of the stock phrase for Japanese New Year's greetings "Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu, kotoshimo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu", but hope you get the gist).

I don't have the skill or the time to make Osechi, the traditional Japanese New Year's assortment of dishes (osechi, please see Wikipedia for a detailed deescription), but I do make my own variation of the traditional soup, Zōni (or "Ozoni", the more polite form). I make a traditional (not entirely traditional, but still within the boundaries of traditional Zōni broth) Japanese broth based on a stock made with dried bonito flakes (katsuo dashi) seasoned with soy sauce, sake rice wine, and a pinch of salt, then add some sliced duck breasts with the skin on and kamaboko fish cakes (colored red and white for celebratory purposes) to enhance the flavor. The broth is then poured over roasted mochi rice cakes and garnished with chopped mitsuba parsley and thinly sliced yuzu citrus fruit for aroma.

There are many variations of zoni made in Japan, differing not only by region but also by individual households, but I believe my recipe (a variation of what my mother made) can be classified as a Kantō region (area around Tokyo, eastern Japan) style.

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