Only Once a Year: Mochi Pounding

By Misty I.

Happy New Year!!! My husband’s first cousin Donn has a mochi pounding day at his home every year. It used to be at Grandpa Inouye’s in Pepe’ekeo but has since moved. Donn and his wife Lisa graciously open up their home during the most hectic time of year so family and friends can perpetuate Japanese tradition.

The morning starts early with lighting the fire to steam the rice in these traditional wooden boxes called “sedo” that are held together with wooden nails. These sedo have been in the family for over 60 years. They are made of redwood and need to be washed and soaked ahead of time so they don’t burn while steaming and also helps prevent the rice from sticking.

After the rice is steamed it’s put through a machine and finished by pounding it with wooden mallets called a “kine” in a gigantic cement bowl called an “usu.”

The scalding hot mochi is then formed into mochi.

We always make traditional mochi to be eaten in ozoni as well as filled mochi. Filled mochi is the fun part, we’ve made koshian mochi, tsubushian mochi, brownie mochi, nutella mochi, peanut butter mochi, and strawberry daifuku mochi like Two Ladies Kitchen and Tsukiji Fish Market in Japan! Soooo good!

I just read about something called zunda mochi that I’d like to try someday, maybe next year.

After the mochi has cooled, it is bagged.

Mochi day is super hectic so we order bentos instead of cooking. It makes things a lot easier!

It was hard work pounding over 100 pounds of mochi that day. That’s okay, only once a year!


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