Taste 2018 the right way
New Year’s is Japan’s biggest and longest holiday. People take Dec. 29 through Jan. 3 off from work to celebrate the first three days of the year praying at temples and shrines for the coming year. It is our Christmas and Thanksgiving – a time to relax with family and friends over special foods and sake.
Get to know your 'osechi' dishes
Osechi is a decorative set of dishes eaten on New Year’s. Each traditional Japanese dish has a special meaning, expressing well-wishing for the coming year. These osechi can be found at department stores or supermarkets. Here are some of the classic dishes.
Kazunoko (herring roe) are tiny yellow fish eggs. The many eggs signify prosperity for your descendants. The texture is chunky and the eggs are not loose. They are marinated in a broth of bonito soup stock, sake and soy sauce. You can often find them at sushi restaurants.
Kuromame (sweet simmered black beans) is soft and sweet. You may also notice a bit of soy sauce flavoring. Kuromame represents good health and diligent work.
Tazukuri are small sardines that have been dried and cooked in a sweet sauce of sugar, sweet rice wine, soy sauce and sake. These are rich in calcium. Tazukuri represents praying for a large catch and a good harvest. Don’t be afraid to eat the head!
Kombumaki is kelp roll and stuffed with salmon or chicken, which has been cooked in a sweet soy sauce-based sauce. The name of kobumaki is a play on words, which mean joy in Japanese, so it’s eaten for good luck food during New Year’s.
Datemaki is a Japanese-style omelet with fish paste. Because the shape of datemaki resembles a scroll, it stands for cultural development.
Kurikinton is sweet potatoes and chestnuts, which can look something like yellow mashed potatoes. This is a child favorite. Kurikinton is believed to bring you wealth because the color looks like gold.
Kamaboko is a dense cake of fish paste. The combination of red and white is used on happy occasions in Japan. Another red-and-white food you’ll find is called namasu, which is daikon radish and carrots pickled in vinegar.
Kohada no awazuke is spotted shad pickled in foxtail millet. People started using this in osechi because it is pickled and can keep for many. To get rid of all the small bones, the fish is cut into three slices and salt is added to the pickle mixture.
Ebi or shrimp represents long life because it has long whiskers. Also, shrimp curls when it is cooked like an old person. It is considered good luck because you will live until your back bends like an old person’s.
There are also various vegetables are prepared for osechi such as gobo (burdock root) with sesame, lotus root, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and pea pods.
- Okinawa Information Service