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New Year's Soup (Ozoni)

Traditionally, this is the first food many families eat, even at midnight on Dec. 31. This soup includes many symbolic foods. The pink part of the steamed fish cake (kamaboko) represents the rising sun of the Japan flag for patriotism, ... Read more

Total time: 40 minutes | Serves 5

Japanese soup stock (dashi)

  • 1 (4-inch) square dried kelp (kombo)
  • 5 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup flaked dried bonito (katsuobushi)

Step 1Wipe off the white powder on the kelp with a damp cloth. Cut 1/2-inch fringes along the edges. Place the water in a saucepan and add the kelp. Bring almost to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat. Remove the kelp. Bring the water to a boil again. Stir the flaked bonito into the pot. Let stand until the flakes settle to the bottom, about 2 to 3 minutes. Strain through a double thickness of damp cheesecloth or through a fine strainer. Makes 4 cups.


  • 1/4 bunch spinach or nappa cabbage leaves
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 5 fresh rice cakes (mochi)
  • 10 pieces pink-edged steamed fish cake, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 5 (1 1/4 x1/8-inch) strips lemon zest, for garnish
  • Dried seaweed (nori), cut into 1/4-inch squares, for garnish

Step 1Blanch the spinach or nappa cabbage in boiling water. Rinse it in cold water, squeeze it dry, then cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Poach the chicken in water until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Slice it into small pieces

Step 2Soften the mushrooms in water for 10 minutes. Remove the hard stems and discard, then slice the mushrooms.

Step 3Immediately before serving, broil the rice cakes until lightly browned. Heat the soup stock and spoon into individual bowls. To each serving, add some of the spinach, chicken and mushrooms and 1 rice cake. Then top with fish cake. Garnish with lemon zest and seaweed pieces.

Note: The spinach, chicken, shiitake, fish cake, lemon zest and seaweed can be prepared in advance, refrigerated in a large flat container and added immediately before serving the soup.
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