1. You don’t need to leave the head on but I thought it would look a bit luxurious.
You could buy fresh prawns and cook yourself, if you like.
2. I prefer chicken thigh to breast meat. But you can use breast or even tenderloin. I think that chicken would be best suited for this soup but you can use pork if you like.
The amount of meat is very small but I usually cook other dishes to go with ozoni. I buy a larger quantity of thigh fillets and put aside small pieces for this soup.
3. I bought a vacuum sealed tip of whole bamboo shoots at the Japanese grocery store as I needed to cook other dishes with them. Each bamboo shoot was about 8cm (3”) tall. I cut off the tip, 4cm from the top, halved it and then sliced it into 2mm thick pieces.
You could also buy canned bamboo shoots, some of which are already sliced.
Instead of bamboo shoots, you could use sliced daikon (white radish) or turnip.
4. Narutomaki is a steamed fish paste which comes in a log shape with a pink spiral pattern. Unlike kamaboko which is also a steamed fish paste, narutomaki is usually served as a decoration or garnish.
You can find narutomaki in the freezer section of Japanese grocery stores.
5. Please refer to my post, Home Style Japanese Dashi Stock.
If you would like a vegetarian version of ozoni, eliminating the chicken and prawn, then please use vegetarian dashi stock, which you can find in Varieties of Dashi Stock.
6. Mitsuba is wild Japanese parsley or the Japanese version of Cryptotaenia. You can substitute it for boiled spinach, snow peas or other green leaves which do not have a very strong flavour.
If using spinach leaves, blanch them and cut into 4cm (1½”) lengths. Snow peas can just be blanched but if large, cut it diagonally into two.
7. Cooking time varies depending on the heat of the grill. You could also use a stove top griller or BBQ griller. I tried a griddle pan to see if it would cook the rice cakes well. It will cook them but it takes much longer than direct heating method.