Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Year in Japan: Osechi ryori

Happy New Year!! This is the first post for 2010. Hopefully we will be a bit more "regular" than we were in 2009. Thank you for reading along. And, as always, please leave a comment if you have something to say. Happy cooking!

If you are used to a rowdy Scottish Hogmanay or a backyard New Year's Eve in sunny Australia, New Year in Japan can feel a bit sombre and forlorn. Japan's NY is a family event, spent quietly at home, snuggled up under the kotatsu, with a box of mandarin oranges to hand, and a round of, ahem, enigmatic New Year TV specials for company.

Unless, that is, you are the cook and you try to beat your Osechi-dishes-cooked personal best. Osechi is the traditional New Year fare of Japan, but its preparation is such a marathon at an already busy time, that very few women make it from scratch themselves anymore. The Osechi cookbooks I own recommend starting on December 26 so as not to be disappointed. Personally, I bought this and that throughout December, but only started cooking 2 days out. But I wasn't doing the full Osechi. Not all of the traditional dishes spell yummy to me.

Last time, I didn't have a special 3-tiered jubako box for Osechi. This time round, I got a nice little one with a bunny and plum blossom motif for next to nothing. The plastic ones are just as lovely as the real lacquered ones, much easier to care for and a fraction of the price! I only used 2 tiers this year, but if I ever get round to doing the full production, all three tiers will come into play. In which case, I will definitely start a day or two earlier (g).

My selections this year were the gochiso buri daikon and East-Japan ozoni broth from two years back. Plus jubako tier 1 goodies: kuromame (sweet black beans), tazukuri (dried fish in soy-sake caramel), matcha-iri kurikinton (sweet potatoes and chestnuts with matcha green tea); and tier 2 yummies: date-maki (rolled sweet omlette with fish cake), matsukaze-yaki (gingered chicken meatloaf on skewers) and kikka kabu (chrysanthemum-shaped pickled white turnip).

I got the lovely seasonal place mats from Takashimaya department store.

See the following posts for recipes.


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