Opening 2013 with a Kyoto style o-zoni soup


Akemashite omedeto ! Happy New Year ! Bonne année !
Well, I’m not too much into wish-wish, my first concern this year was as usual : What do we eat in 2013 !
Ozoni ! It’s explained here.

The classic Kyoto o-zoni is caracterized by its simplicity, elegance, traditionalism and refinement. Mine is even simpler than planned… I’ve forgotten to add tofu. It was still delicious.
Kohaku, red and white are the good luck color of New Year and this soup follows this color code.

Mochi. Ozoni is mochi.

Dainty soup with a base of Saikyo miso and a dashi broth of the finest hana-katsuo, flower bonito fish shavings. I had to cheat, I’ve added a little sake kasu.

Traditional seasonal veggies. Ginnan are the gincko tree’s nuts. Kyoto’s small taro satoimo and ultra-red Kintoki carrot.

The veggies are boiled separately as they don’t go well together. These small round mochi get soft by poaching them a few minutes in boiling or near boiling water. If you had a big mochi, you’d need to slice it.

Fill the bowl with a mochi, veggies, tofu if you have. Cover with broth and top with a mount of fish flakes. Take the photo quick as the fish flakes disappear like in moving sands.

Japanese New-Year count down (-1)

We arrive at the last step of preparations for the Japanese New Year Osechi Ryouri.
You were thinking there were only small bits and no big piece. That’s true in a way. Japanese meal favor the variety. The more items the biggest luxury.
But there is something else. A roast… well a grilled fish.

Shio-yaki tai (salt grilled tai fish)

Making a traditional meal of Japanese Osechi (New Year good luck food). That was an experiment and I had a lot of fun doing it. As usual, don’t look for perfection. I am no expert…

Read more.

Japanese New-Year count down (-3)

Let’s continue our walk to the Japanese New Year meal with fishcake. That’s not a dessert :

Just slice and alternate. They look good… but they are not full of flavors. There are tasty kamaboko, but they don’t look so nice….

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Japanese New-Year count down (-8)

Namasu (raw salad) takes New-Year colors for the Osechi meal…

紅白なます, kohaku namasu is a standard of Osechi Ryori, simply because it is red (ko) and white (haku). The red and white association of color is considered auspicious for New Year in many Asian countries….

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Osechi 4 : kohaku kamaboko fish cakes

Like most people, I bought them this time.

They are kamaboko (fish cakes), blocks of steamed fish flesh. In the past, when there was no refrigeration, making kamaboko was a way to keep fresh fish a little longer. There exist hundreds of variations. In the West, the word surimi is well known, but that means pounded flesh and what is sold as surimi in Japan tends to be the raw flesh. Cooked items have other names.

For Osechi, it’s common to mix white and red. The kohaku auspiscious colors.
It’s pink not red ? Technically yes, but in the past Japanese language considered aka (ko) as one color that contained red and pink.

Just slice and alternate. They look good… but they are not full of flavors. There are tasty kamaboko, but they don’t look so nice.

As you see, they are imprinted with auspicious good luck kanji… not sure which way to place them.

Osechi ryori compilation

DIY Classic Osechi Ryori

Making a traditional meal of Japanese Osechi (New Year good luck food). That was an experiment and I had a lot of fun doing it. As usual, don’t look for perfection. I am no expert.

The menu is highly related with Shinto religion. And New Year is the major Shinto event of the year, maybe the only one everybody kind of celebrates in Japan. Everything is symbolic. Most things are displayed to call good luck and prosperity.

Doors are decorated with kadomatsu that contain pine, oranges…

And the main activity of January 1st is hatsumode, the first visit to the Shinto shrine. For most people, that’s the only visit in the year. Look at this shrine. I live nearby and I see people getting in maybe once a month… except today.

I’ll detail the symbolism of the food, and the recipes, in other posts. These preparations are ancient Japanese food. In old times, cooking and serving a hot meal was a lot of work for the housewife and the maids. So, in order to free everybody of work for the celebration, the Osechi Ryori is prepared in the week before the New-Year (from 25th to 31st roughly). Then, it is eaten cold the 3 first days.

First floor (from the left) :
紅白なます kohaku namasu (made of daikon radish and kintoki carrot)
紅白かまぼこ kohaku kamaboko (white and pink colored fish cakes)
鶏松風 tori matsukaze (chicken terrine, topped with poppy seeds and green aonori seaweed)
田作り ta dzukuri (caramelized fish, and caramelized walnuts)

Second floor :
卵 tamago (front left – mosaic omelette)
数の子 kazu no ko (front right – sake flavored fish eggs, from Pacific herring eggs)
栗金団 kuri kinton (back left – sweet potato and chestnut puree)
豆 mame (back right – black and white sweetened beans)

Third floor :
金時人参 kintoki carrots
konnyaku
里芋 sato imo (taro)
shiitake mushroom

Shio-yaki tai (fish salted and roasted)

Mochi topped with a kumquat.
That should be a mikan orange, or a daidai bitter orange, but I have the miniature mochi totem. Mochi are blocks of sticky rice paste.

To be continued…

Osechi ryori compilation

Osechi Compilation : Opening the boxes

Osechi Ryori is Japanese good luck food for the NewYear

NB : click on the text not the photos

For more Japanese New Year traditions click here.

Photo menu :

the lacquer box
the Osechi menu 2011
kuri kinton
kuro mame

Osechi 1 : kazu no ko
Osechi 2 : kintoki ninjin and daikon for namasu
Osechi 3 : building a rice paddy
Osechi 4 : kohaku kamaboko fish cakes
Osechi 5 : chicken matsukaze
Osechi 6 : the vegetable box
Osechi 7 : tamago mosaic

omedetai (lucky grilled fish)