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Traditional Japanese Rice Treat Brightens New Year

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Lauren Jabusch is a Japanese-American, and she talks about her family's holiday food tradition of making Japanese mochi, steamed rice treats.

Jabusch, whose family has been making mochi for generations, says the recipe starts wtih soaking grains of rice.

"They're soaked overnight and then they are drained," she says. Her family uses a mochi maker to first steam and then pound the rice into a paste. "Then we shape it by hand into individual balls," she says.

The traditional method of making mochi involves many people helping to pound the rice in a big granite bowl with a wooden mallet over a fire. Instead, Jabusch says, the device her family uses looks like a breadmaker. "It's cheating, but the big method involves a lot of work and involves a huge group of people and we just do it with our immediate family."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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