Although the exact origins of mochi are unknown, its use as a ritual and celebratory food dates back to at least the early 10th century Japan. Today mochi is a fairly common treat, but is still especially popular at New Year’s celebrations in Japan. The name mochi possibly comes from the Japanese word “motsu” which translates as “to hold” or “to have” and has connotations of being given by the gods.
The traditional ceremonial preparation of mochi is called Mochitsuki and takes place on December 29th in Japan to prepare for the New Year’s celebrations. Glutinous rice is soaked in water overnight and then steamed. The steamed rice is then placed into a stone or wooden bowl and then pounded with a wooden mallet. In some cases, two people may alternate swings of their mallets while chanting to keep their rhythm. The sticky glob of rice that results is then shaped into small squares or balls. The mochi can then be eaten as is or used as an ingredient in many different dishes, both savory and sweet. For New Year’s celebrations it is often used in soup as a sort of dumpling, or filled with sweet red bean paste and served as a dessert or confection.
A small, sticky, glutinous rice cake.
Glutinous rice and water