Rice cakes (mochi) are steamed glutinous rice which, in the traditional method, are pounded in a special wooden mortar called “Usu” in Japanese. The ceremony for making this at New Years is called mochitsuki. A more modern method for making mochi is a special electric cooker. However, most Japanese buy mochi in packages. Rice cake shapes are circular or square and are most famous for their use in ozōni, which is eaten the first three days of the New Year holidays. It is said that god dwells in rice cakes, so rice cakes are lucky.
Flour is classified into three types – hakurikiko, chūrikiko and kyōrikiko. The amount of protein contained in each is different. Hakurikiko has the smallest amount of protein, and is the most commonly used in Japan. Kyōrikiko has the most protein, and is used in Chinese noodles and bread. The amount of protein in chūrikiko is in between that of hakurikiko and kyōrikiko. This flour is used in thick white noodles, okonomiyaki and takoyaki.