O’Hashi O’Holiday soups – O’Zoni and O’Yster Stew Redux – 2015

Christmas Eve with spiked eggnog and oyster stew.

Christmas Eve at the Hunter’s with spiked eggnog and oyster stew.

Christmas Eve got away from me. By the time I got around to getting to the store it was after a party in Longmont. Turned out that the only place open after 7pm was Target.

These days, I mostly get practical stuff for Christmas – laundry soap, floss, toothpaste, contact lens solution.

As for the 2015 Christmas Eve oyster stew, I had to settle but the concoction was good, not great.

In the recipe below that I wrote about in 2014 substitute canned for bottled oysters. 

Since my parents died, I’ve been having to retool my December holidays.  We used to have a standing rib roast with all the trimmings on Christmas Eve.

On New Years Day, my grandparents were the focus and they always had a big spread of American food like turkey, ham, yams and Japanese-type food like sushi, abalone salad, tempura shrimp and veggies.

Can you still get Bisquick?

New Years Day morning, my dad always would have cooked a Japanese soup called ozoni. It varied from year to year, but generally it had a fish base (dashi) with napa cabbage and this fish cake stuff called kamaboko. Sometimes he would cook up a chicken soup. In any case, there would be a couple mochi (pounded rice into globs).

New Years Day, in front of the Boulder courthouse on Pearl Street, some Japanese guys who work over at the Sushi Zanmai restaurant, bring rice and big wooden mortars and pestles and pound rice into gooey mochi and serve it to the onlookers with a bowl of miso soup.

mochi pounding 2009

Mochi pounding on the Pearl Street Mall in 2009. I haven’t been able to find if it’s happening this year.

I just read that Sushi Zanmai cancelled the mochitsuki event due to cold and snow. Maybe it will be rescheduled. Here’s a picture from the mochi pounding back in 2009

My Japanesish tradition now isn’t really a tradition, since I make a variety of soups from Christmas to New Year and add in a couple mochi cakes with each serving.

New Year Ozoni I’m making this year a kind of “surf and turf” soup with chicken and shrimp.

Alan's Ozoni

Add a mochi cake and kamaboko slices just before serving, otherwise the mochi can disintegrate in the hot soup and the kamaboko gets discolored by the broth.

You’ll need this stuff:
8 oz of fresh or frozen peeled and deveined shrimp (I use the frozen ones in a bag)
12 oz of skinless and boneless chicken cut into bite – size pieces
4 cups chicken broth (this time around, I have a couple cubes of bouillon)
2 cups of water
8 mushrooms quartered up
1/2 cup diagonally cut celery
8 oz bean sprouts (snip off the bean head part, otherwise it will turn the broth dark brown / black)
1/4 cup diagonally cut carrot (I’m not much of an orange food eater)
1/2 green pepper chopped up
2 mochi cakes / bowl (I use frozen mochi from the Asian market)
4 green onions chopped up in 1 inch pieces
2 tbs soy sauce
pepper to taste

This is how you make it:

It is best served piping hot.

It is best served piping hot.

1. Thaw out the shrimp, if frozen. Rinse shrimp, pat dry and set aside. Spray PAM (I use vegetable oil) onto a 4 qt Dutch oven or other larger pot and preheat over medium heat. Add the diced up chicken and cook until no longer pink

2. Add the chicken broth and water to the pot. Bring to a boil. Add the shrimp, bean sprouts, mushrooms, celery, green onions and soy sauce. Return to a boiling; reduce heat until shrimp are done and vegetables tender.

3. Get the mochi ready. If it’s frozen, thaw it out either ahead of time or in the microwave. Mochi can be purchased quasi-fresh in refrigerated form. There’s also fine rice flour called Mochiko that can be pounded into mochi, less ceremoniously in the privacy of the kitchen.

4. Serve the soup and add a couple mochi globs on top of the soup and serve. Take some pix and let us all know how your ozoni turned out and have a Happy New Year.

The Silver Sage Village community, where I live, is having a New Years Eve thing at which everyone reminisces their pasts. My job is to set up the record player and get it to play through the sound system in the TV room. We’re spinning some discs from the past.

It should be fun for all us Baby Boomers.

As for Christmas, the last three years, I started making oyster stew. Apparently, it’s a tradition that throws back to Italians, Catholics and seven fishes.

Last year, I had all the ingredients in the fridge, which aren’t many, but I landed in the hospital and physical rehab for six weeks and didn’t get around to it until Super Sunday.

When I got out of the hospital, part of my occupational therapy was getting stuff out of the cupboards and refrigerator. It was quite a chore to grab and lift a gallon of milk, but I managed.

I tried making the stew and found out that oysters have a shelf life. They were totally disintegrated when they were cooked. It was more of an oyster puree That was on Super Bowl weekend.

This year – 2014, I bought the ingredients fresh.

Christmas Eve Oyster Stew turned out much better. Here’s the gluten – free recipe I used:

You’ll need this stuff:
3 cups milk
1 cup half and half
1/4 white onion
2 stalks of celery
four cloves garlic (more or less to taste)
one bottle oysters
4 tbs butter
salt, pepper (to taste)
parsley (optional, its for color)

This is how you make it:
1. Melt the butter in a pan or pot over medium – high heat; stir in the minced up garlic, finely chopped onion and celery; cook until soft (5 or 6 minutes).

Oyster stew on Christmas Eve.

Oyster stew on Christmas Eve.

Slowly add the milk and half – and – half stirring constantly; stir in the salt, pepper and parsley.

Reduce heat to medium until the mixture bubbles.

2. Add the oysters and the liquid from the bottle; cook until the edge of the oysters curl.

3. Easy Peasy – take a picture and tell how guests liked your version.

Oysters – raw or cooked – are an acquired taste. My mom made oysters by deep frying them and serving them with lemon and soy sauce on the side. I learned about oysters at an early age and have eaten them ever since.

No matter what your December holiday and New Year traditions and memories may be, I hope they are memorable ones.

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