Thanks to everyone for their kind and encouraging comments on Part 1 of my Osechi making post!
I had a lot of questions in that post which i think i answered them all but in case i didnt..
Do Japanese people celebrate Lunar New Year?
No we dont, we celebrate New Year which is 01 Jan as per western calendars. New Year is a huge deal and we get quite a few days off. Its one of the rare days that most shops even supermarkets are shut.
What is the osechi?
[From wikipedia]Osechi-ryōri (御節料理 or お節料理) are traditional Japanese New Year foods. The tradition started in the Heian Period (794-1185). Osechi are easily recognizable by their special boxes called jūbako (重箱), which resemble bentō boxes.”
How did the osechi tradition start?
[From wikipedia] “Originally, during first three days of the New Year it was a taboo to use a hearth and cook meals, except when cooking zōni. Osechi was made by the close of the previous year, as women did not cook in the New Year.”
When do you eat osechi?
it is eaten on the first day of the year ie New Year. We are meant to keep eating it for 3 days hence the enormous amount of food. However like most japanese people, i do get sick of it by the 2nd day. XD
Any other questions? let me know and i’ll get back to you ^^
Ok back to the osechi making!
Now i want you to note that not everyone assembles their homemade osechi. Some people just serve all the different components in their containers or plates. However, since this was my first time making osechi on my own, i wanted it to really impress so i tried to arrange it as nicely as i can!
For tips, i gathered up all the osechi ads i could find and stuck them on my kitchen walls as inspiration XD
As you can see, there are so many out there available for people to order/buy instead of making it themselves.
And the second tier.
I opted for elements of “Westernized osechi” (西洋お節 seiyō-osechi) and “Chinese-style osechi” (中華風お節 chūkafū osechi). This is to benefit my husband who isnt used to eating traditional osechi XD <- my husband is Australian.
Oh and here’s a pic of my jubako [container]
I’m pleased to report back that my osechi was very well recieved. As a matter of fact, we finished almost all of it at one go [4 of us] I still had some leftover components at home but the husband gladly finished them on Day 3. ^^
You can see the recipes etc for the osechi components in part 1 of the entry http://bittenbefore.com/tokyolife/2011/01/12/new-year-2011-making-osechi-ryori-part-1/
FYI – the cooking doesnt just end with the food in the boxes.
Especially in households where osechi is still homemade, toshi-koshi soba (年越し蕎麦) is eaten on New Year’s Eve. Its name literally means “year-crossing soba.” Although there may be some symbolism attributed to it (i.e., long life, health and energy in the upcoming year), this tradition may be regarded as largely pragmatic: the traditional wife, busy cooking several days’ worth of food for everyone, would likely prefer to make something simple for immediate consumption. It is considered bad luck by many Japanese to leave any toshi-koshi soba uneaten.
This is a soup made with mochi rice cakes in clear broth
I am from Tokyo, Kanto aka Eastern Japan so tradition here is clear broth but those in western japan will have the tradition to have theirs in miso broth.
I made some wagashi [japanese dessert] as well!
桜餅 – 道明寺桜餅 Sakura Mochi – Domyoji Mochi
Before you say anything..yes i know i know its Kansai style Sakura Mochi. We in kanto should eat Chomeiji Mochi right? Well no not really. Both mochi are enjoyed throughout japan. Personally i have to admit, i like Domyoji Mochi more.
Recipe for Domyoji Mochi [makes 12] <– Recipe translated by me. DO NOT REPOST!
Domyoji Mochi Flour 150g [sorry i got no clue where u buy this outside japan]
1 big tablespoon White Sugar
Red food coloring [a little just to make it pink]
Red Bean paste 500g
Salted Sakura leaves 12
1. Melt sugar in 300cc water and mix a bit of red food coloring to make it pink. Mix in flour till a paste
2. Cover with gladwrap and put it in microwave for 3 mins. Take wrap off and microwave for another 3 mins. Leave to rest for 10 mins
3. Divide red bean paste into 12 balls. Wash salted sakura leaves to remove excess salt.
4. Roll a round of pink flour paste and encase red bean in it. Cover with Sakura leaf.
This is NOT the traditional recipe. Traditionally you should be steaming mochi rice and then grounding it into a paste. This is the shortcut-yumeko-is-lazy version.
I made a few other wagashi varieties..if u are interested, i’ll post recipes and pics another time ^^ LMK!
Ok i finally finished my new year cooking post! if you read through all this, thank you so so much
I hope you will try making some of these traditional japanese foods in your own home!