To learn more, read "A Soup for New Year's Day" in our National edition.
Traditional Ozoni Soup
Recipe adapted from Ivan Orkin, "Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo's Most Unlikely Noodle Joint" (Ten Speed)
Yield: 3 servings ozoni, plus 6 cups extra dashi
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
2 ounces kombu (about 5 (6-by-7-inch) pieces)
2½ ounces iriko niboshi (dried sardines) (about 1½ cups)
3½ ounces geso (dried squid tentacles) (about 2 cups)
10½ cups water
2 ounces katsuobushi (shaved dried bonito)
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
1 (2-inch) piece of daikon, peeled
1 medium carrot, peeled
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups dashi
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon mirin
3⅓ ounces skinless boneless chicken thigh, sliced into bite-size chunks and seasoned with salt
4 squares of mochi
4 sprigs mitsuba (Japanese wild parsley) or celery leaves
1. Prepare the dashi: Wipe the seaweed with a damp cloth and place it in a large bowl with the dried sardines and the dried squid tentacles. Cover with cool water and let soak for at least 2 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Drain the soaked seaweed, sardines and squid tentacles and place them in a large stockpot. Cover with the water. Over medium heat, bring the water up to 140°F. Once it reaches temperature, skim all of the scum from the surface, then strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer. Gently press the strained ingredients against the sides of the strainer to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
3. Pour the liquid into a clean pot. Over medium heat, bring the liquid to 176°F and hold it as close to that temperature as possible. Add the shaved bonito and cook for another 3 minutes, keeping the liquid at a constant 176°F.
4. Strain the liquid again through a fine-mesh sieve, again pushing down on the ingredients to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
5. Cool the liquid to room temperature (you can use an ice bath to speed this process, if desired), then store in the refrigerator. Dashi doesn't have the best shelf life--it keeps for a couple of days in the refrigerator--so make this as close to the day you'll use it as possible.
6. Make the ozoni: Preheat a toaster oven or full-size oven to 400°F.
7. Cut a shallow "x" into the top of each mushroom. Thinly slice the daikon into rounds, then cut each round into 4 wedges. Thinly slice the carrot on the bias.
8. Combine the chicken stock, dashi, soy sauce, sake and mirin in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken, mushroom, daikon and carrots and simmer gently until everything is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
9. Bake the mochi directly on the oven rack until they become puffy and the edges turn golden brown, about 10 minutes.
10. Set out 4 small bowls and divide the soup among them. Put a mochi cake into each bowl, garnish with mitsuba, and serve.