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Ozoni is eaten for New Year’s celebrations in Japan. In my family, we eat it on New Year’s Day. This dish varies from region to region; the version I often make is simply dashi based, but it can be made with white miso as well. You may have heard of ozoni, because it contains mochi—be careful when eating, because hot mochi can easily cause choking.
4 unsweetened mochi, fresh or thawed from frozen (look for 2- to 4-inch discs or flat rectangles at an Asian market)
1½ quarts dashi
1 tablespoon Suehiro Usukuchi Shoyu (soy sauce)
2 tablespoon Nitto Jozo White Tamari
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon mirin
1 carrot, cut into rounds ¼ inch thick
8 oz chicken thigh, cut into 4 pieces
4 each shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
4 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup fresh spinach, blanched and drained of water
1 tablespoon yuzu or Meyer lemon zest, shaved thinly with a knife or peeler (not grated), then julienned very thin
Set a heavy bottomed pan like a cast iron on your stove top, add the mochi with some space between them, and turn the heat to medium low.
Bring the dashi to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add the shoyu, tamari, sake and mirin. Bring back to a light simmer and taste for seasoning.
In the meantime, flip the mochi over. The side that was first in contact with the pan should start to feel soft. Continue to do this until the mochi is super soft and gummy, and lightly browned on each side.
Take 1 cup of the hot, seasoned dashi broth and add it to a small pot, along with the carrots, chicken and shiitake. Cook the chicken until just cooked through, about two minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until just opaque throughout. Remove the carrots, chicken, shiitake and shrimp and arrange them evenly and neatly into 4 bowls. By cooking the vegetables and proteins separately, you will keep you main broth clear and free of fat bubbles. Reserve the cooking broth in the smaller pan for another use.
Divide the blanched spinach into 4 portions, wrap or twirl each portion into a little nest, then place one in each bowl. Finally, drop one mochi on top of the spinach. Gently pour the seasoned dashi into each bowl and garnish with yuzu or lemon zest.