Japanese New Year's Food


Oshogatsu ( New Year ) is just a couple of days away. People all around the world are savoring the festive milieu. Especially in Japan  everybody is immersed in the preparation of welcoming the New Year. 

New Year's Eve, quite contrarily to elsewhere in the world, is a very quiet evening in Japan. It makes sense that after weeks of planning and cleaning, one might just want to snooze on the couch watching there favorite New Year series on TV.

Osechi Rohr, a subset of Japanese cuisine, are traditionally eaten on Oshogatsu (New Year). New Year's day, is traditionally a no cooking day in Japan, so  Osechi dishes are stewed with lots of sugar and vinegar to preserve them for longer. The dishes is symbolic of long life, wealth, fertility, and happiness. The food is then scrupulously plated in a 2-3 tiered lacquered box called a jubako, which the whole family eats from.

Enough for the history, lets get started with osechi.Here's the list:

Gobo Kobumaki –

Burdock root wrapped in kombu, tied with kanpyo (a kind of gourd) and simmered in niboshi dashi. Burdock is a very long root that symbolizes the Japanese ideal of a healthy , long life. This preparation represents joy.

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Renkon no Nitsuke –

Lotus root cut like chrysanthemums then fried and simmered in a sweet soy sauce. The holes in it indicates to look forward to the year ahead.

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Kikuka Kabu -

A baby turnip carved like  chrysanthemum flower , pickled in vinegar, salt and sugar with some chili pepper for the heat.The chrysanthemum, 'symbol of emperor', is symbolic of joyous occasions.

Pirikara Konnyaku -

Konnyaku (yam jelly) simmered in a sweet and spicy sauce.

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Nimono –

Fresh baby taro, carrots carved like plum blossoms, and shiitake mushrooms simmered in a katsuo/kombu dashi. The shape of the carrots in this dish is symbolic of a wish for fertility.

Kuri Kinton -

Sweetened and mashed Japanese sweet potatoes with sweet chestnuts. The characters for kinton literally mean “group of gold”, so with the golden color of this sweet, it represents a wish for wealth and financial success in the new year.

Ebi no Shioyaki -

Giant shrimp brined in a salt sugar mixture for 5 minutes and then grilled to perfection on a fish grill. The shape of the shrimp is similar to that of an older person and represents longevity.

Kamaboko –

The quintessential pink and white Japanese fishcakes are traditionally sliced and layered in alternating rows of pink and white.

Datemaki –

These sweet golden rounds of egg and hanpen (fishcake), have a ribbed outer surface mimicking the shining sun, symbolizes sunny days ahead.

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Kuromame -

Large black soybeans simmered with sugar and soy sauce. Aside from being full of nutrients, this dish also symbolizes good health, and hard work.

Ikura -

Seasoned salmon roe. In addition to being an auspicious shade of red, the eggs represent fertility.

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Tazukuri –

Baby dried anchovies are roasted and coated with sweet caramelized soy sauce and sesame seeds. Tazukuri, which literally translates to “making rice fields” symbolizes a good harvest.
Finally,oshogatsu meal would be incomplete without o-zoni an quotidian of sweet and sticky rice cake.
That's all folks! about Japanese food and tradition. Hope you enjoyed it.
Akemashite omedetou!
(Happy New Year).