So This Is The New Year.

Mission Peak
I woke up in darkness – 5AM on New Year’s day. The night before, I suddenly felt the urge to see the hatsuhinode (first sunrise). To catch the very first rising sun of the year is ‘good for your luck’, and it is believed to bring you excellent health – which is something I could really use, given my current condition.
I managed to recruit my baby sister for this trek (my other sister, Twiggy, was adamantly against it. She hates using muscles that aren’t related to dancing). Dad decided to tag along too, so that his much anticipated New Years breakfast would be extra tasty. Not that it’s not good without the hike, but just to make it extra fantabulous.
Unfortunately it was too foggy and we couldn’t see anything but cows. 
Well, at least we saw cows. 
That should bring some good luck, given that it’s the year of the Ox, no?
On with the New Years breakfast. This is a food blog, after all.
The Japanese work like honeybees through the last days of December in preparation of Sanganichi, the first three days of the year where you are to rest and prepare yourself for the rest of the year. To maximize resting time, the type of food made for New Years are the types  that last – osechi, it is called – and most everything in there is 1) sweet. Really, sweet. or 2) vinegared or 3) stewed, and each and every one of them bear some sort of luck.
Nowadays you can pre-order your osechi and skip cooking all together, but we never do it because my family does not enjoy most of the things in the osechi box. And those boxes can cost you a pretty penny. More like 30,000 pretty pennies. 
Here are some of the things my mom always makes:
Komochi Konbu Kazunoko
Left: komochi konbu (herring-egged seaweed), Right: kazunoko (herring roe)
These two symbolize fertility. It must be working because my mom eats pounds of these things every year – and has three daughters. They are briny in a good way, usually marinated in dashi broth, and make teeny tiny but pleasant p-p-p-pops with each bite. Excellent with a dash of shichimi pepper.

Date-Maki Tai no Kobujime
Left: datemaki (egg and fishcake roll), Right: tai no kobujime (kelp wrapped Sea Bream).
Datemaki‘s spiral symbolize culture, intellect, and progress. It’s fishcake (hanpen) and egg,  blended, and rolled up like a tamagoyaki. It’s slightly sweet and flan-y, and also everybody’s favorite.
Tai is always considered good luck. It’s a silly pun – in Japanese, the word for celebatory is ‘
medetai‘ and as you can see, tai is part of the word. You’ll see it served at weddings, at parties, at tea ceremonies, usually grilled in its entirity.
My mom, however, likes her tai flesh wrapped in kelp for a couple days. This makes it crunchy and also take on the sea-breezy flavor and salt from the kelp – no need for soysauce! Leftovers are great over hot rice and with broth poured on top. 
Mochi Ozoni
One simply cannot forget to eat ozoni on New Years. Ozoni is veggies (leeks, Japanese mustard, spinach) cooked in light broth (chicken in the Nguyen household), topped with kamaboko (fish cakes, usually pink and white for good luck) and chicken and shiitake, finished with one or two mochi cakes in it. The result is hot, gooey, carbs overload that everybody loves.

We eat A LOT of Mochi on New Years day.

Kinako Mochi
For lunch we ate kinako mochi, which is mochi rolled in sugar and soy bean flour. Kinako mochi eaten on New Years day brings good luck too, I just don’t remember which. It’s sweet and kind of snacky, and the soy bean flour has a subtle peanut-buttery kind of flavor to it. It’s awesome.
For dinner, since we don’t eat the traditional chikuzen-ni as our stewed dish (Dad thinks it’s too sweet), Mom made Oden
As you can see… My Mom’s oden is pretty much the shiznick
Mom doesn’t follow the ‘rest three days’ rule and likes to keep herself busy. She’s really a type A if you ask me.
On New Years Eve, she puts the beef tendon in the pressure cooker, boils and peels the eggs, and par-boils the tripe. On The Day, she slips mochi into bean curd pockets and closes them with toothpicks. She makes the perfect oden broth – slightly sweet, but meaty and full – and then cooks various things in it, like fish cakes, the mochi pouches, the tripe, the eggs, the tendons, the konnyaku jellies. The result is the awesomest oden in the world.
What do you eat on New Years?
Gatorade and soda crackers don’t count. Nor does Motrin!

But wait… There are moar Japanese New Years Noms!
Food Librarian’s family make their own mochi via Mochitsuki!

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • The Food Librarian January 5, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Oh!!! looks so good. My family makes our own mochi…but we get the food at Nijiya! Your mom sounds amazing!! :) Happy New Year

  • bionicgrrrl January 6, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Korean people always eat dduk gook (rice cake soup) on New Year’s Day. Interesting coincidence, no? And my mom also cooks up a storm on New Year’s. Moms rock.

  • ila January 6, 2009 at 6:57 am

    food librarian>> i saw, i saw! i can't believe your family has the usu and everything!!! don's mom uses an electric mochi machine. happy new year!

    bionicgrrrl>> oh really? i love the korean rice cakes too, it's so chewy and carbs-y. yes yes, moms DO rock.

  • Marc @ NoRecipes January 7, 2009 at 6:52 am

    Looks great! I was up from jetlag at sunrise and caught the sunrise from my hotel room (I wonder if that counts?). I did do Hatsumode at Meiji Jingu though and I also got within 50 feet of the emperor during his new years address at the palace:-)


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