Osechi is the traditional New Year cuisine of Japan. It is made over a number of days in the lead-up to the New Year and served to the family in a three-tiered box. Previously in Japan, all shops were closed for the first 3-4 days of the New Year. Osechi, which keeps well, tided families over the break until fresh supplies could be bought. The preparation of Osechi is a quite time-consuming, and many these days buy it in, rather than take time out of the busy Year End period, with its socializing and spring cleaning demands, to make it from scratch.
I rather like a good cooking challenge, and managed to rustle up seven Osechi dishes this year, including a few that have become staples over the years (recipes on my other blog, Saffron and Lemons):
Tier 1 (Front box): Matcha-iri Kurikinton (sweet potato and chestnut paste with matcha), Subasu (spicy pickled lotus root), Pirikara Tatsukuri (Korean-style spicy dried young anchovies in gochujang-sake dressing) and Kuromame (black beans in soy sauce caramel. (The terrine on the left was store-bought)
Tier 2 (Middle box): Date-maki (sweet rolled fish paste omlette), Kaki Namasu (pickled daikon and carrot with dried persimmon)
Tier 3 (Back box): Matsukaze-yaki (gingered chicken meatloaf) (normally this box would contain simmered vegetables, but I've not yet found the right recipe for that one. Maybe next year...)
My plan of attack was:
- December 26/27 Choose dishes and make shopping list; buy non perishables
- December 28 Dry-fry the anchovies for the Tatsukuri; soak black soy beans for Kuromame
- December 29 Start simmering the Kuromame; make the Tatsukuri, prepare the Subasu and Namasu pickles; peel sweet potatoes for Kurikinton and soak in water overnight
- December 30 Give Kuromame a second simmering; make Kurikinton; buy the perishables
- December 31 Make Date-maki and Matsukaze-yaki; prepare Ozoni and Gochiso Buri Daikon components other than the seafood
Another dear friend Gh, who hails from Iran, joined the Young Man and I for our own celebration on the 2nd, when we learned that you can save grilled mochi rice cakes by scraping the burnt bit off. Oh, the fun we have in the kitchen!