All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Osechi New Year's Day meal, 2012

As usual, I only made the dishes I like. There is no kazunoko herring roe or ikura salmon roe on our table, for example. And yet again, I gave up on making kobumaki rolled kelp with fish (salted salmon for us) inside. Another dish I didn't have the energy to make was kinton mashed satsumaimo sweet potato with sweetened kuri chestnuts for financial luck .... that have been a mistake.
  • Ozoni / New Year's Day soup with mochi rice cake, gobo burdock root, carrot, konnyaku yam cake, kamaboko fishcake, yakidofu [broiled tofu], and grilled ling cod
  • Namasu / daikon radish and carrot in citrus vinegar marinade: red and white is the color combination for celebratory occasions
  • Ebi no umani / prawns in light soy sauce flavored broth: prawns are cooked in a bent form, implying a wish for longevity (live until your back bends) 
  • Yabane kinusaya / snow peas cut in arrow shaft feather shape: arrow shaft feathers at shrines are a symbolic item to ward off evil spirits 
  • Datemaki / rolled seafood omelet: represents intellectual enhancement and cultural appreciation, based on the roll's resemblance to a scroll
  • Kamaboko musubi-giri / fishcake cut in knot shape: knot implies connections between people, pledges and celebrations of beginnings and ends. White and pink (red) are for celebrations. 
  • Kuromame no fukumeni / lightly sweet soy sauce flavored black soybeans: a pun on "mame [beans]" and "mame [health]" 
  • Nishime (satoimo baby taro root, plum-blossom cut carrot, flower-cut lotus root, gobo burdock root): baby taro root, a very prolific vegetable, symbolizes the prosperity of descendants; plum blossoms imply a celebratory occasion and early spring; lotus root, which naturally has lots of holes running through it, lets you see the other side, thus implying foresight; burdock root grows deep into the ground, representing strength and stability.
  • Gindara to hotate no saikyozuke / grilled saikyomiso-marinated black cod and sea scallops
  • Kikuka kabu / chrysanthemum-cut Japanese turnip 
  • Nanbanzuke / deep-fried fish in sweetened spicy vinegar 
  • Yudebuta no yuzu remon-zuke / slow-cooked pork marinated in yuzu citron and lemon
Osechi is auspicious food served on New Year's Day. It used to be also served on five other ceremonial days (January 7th, March 3rd, May 5th, July 7th and September 9th) based on the old Chinese calendar. A court tradition of seasonal celebrations since the 8th century became official for everyone during the Edo period (1603-1868), but the system was abolished in 1873. Today people continue the custom on New Year's Day and eat special food, either prepared at home or catered from shops or restaurants, enjoying it with family, relatives and friends, with wishes for all possible good fortune in the new year.

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