For over a millennium, making and eating the sweet rice treat mochi (moe-chee) has been a celebrated New Year’s tradition in Japan, with generations of families and communities coming together to wish good health and prosperity for the new year. Join the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community (BIJAC) at the annual Mochi Tsuki Festival. Highlights include performances from the acclaimed Seattle taiko drum group Kokon Taiko, a mochi making presentation, and a pictoral history of the award-winning exhibit “Kodomo No Tameni – For the sake of the children.” BIJAC members will prepare some batches of mochi in the centuries-old method of first steaming the sweet rice over an open fire, then placing the cooked rice into a warm stone or concrete bowl called an usu. Using large wooden mallets, two people rhythmically pound the rice in the usu, while with bare hands a third person swiftly moves the rice between each mallet crash. After several minutes of vigorous pounding, the rice becomes a thick, smooth dough – mochi. From manual pounding in the usu or special mochi-making appliances, the mochi is removed and children of all ages hand form the steaming-hot mochi into small handball-sized cakes, filling some of them with a sweet bean paste called ahn. While arguably mochi is best eaten hot and fresh, many enjoy roasting it in the oven, then dipping the puffy and crisp hot mochi cakes into a combination of sugar and soy sauce. For future enjoyment, mochi can be frozen in airtight bags. You can experience the tradition of mochi tsuki (moe–chee sue–key) or “mochi–making” first hand. Pound rice and make mochi cakes along with the mochi masters. This event is free and no pre-registration is required. More info: Mochi Tsuki Festival – Seattle Kokon Taiko and https://bijac.org/events-calendar/
Traditional Mochi making
Mochi-making involves a centuries old method of first steaming short-grain glutinous rice (aka sticky rice or sweet rice). The cooked rice is then placed in a warm stone or concrete bowl called an usu. Using large wooden mallets, people pound the rice until it becomes a thick, smooth dough. Now it is mochi. Once cooked and pounded, the still hot mochi is formed into small cakes.