Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year - Osechi Ryouri

❤ Akemashite Omedetou ❤
Happy New Year

New Year's, called Oshougatsu in Japan, is one of the most important cultural events of the year.

Young people return to their parents' homes, relatives come to visit and there is generally a lot of families getting together for the traditional Oshougatsu feast.

Traditional New Year's food in Japanese homes is called Osechi Ryouri, and Japanese mothers and housewives everywhere spend the days leading up to New Year's in the kitchen, preparing multiple dishes to impress their family and relatives with the special New Year's dishes.
So now I have a confession to make.
As we've been living in Australia, this was my first year to attempt Osechi Ryouri.  Here in Australia I don't even have the Jubako (laquered boxes) to put it in.  Many of the ingredients don't exist here.  But I gave it a go and my husband's reaction made it all worth it. (*^_^*)

This is most likely our last New Year's in Australia so this is my practice run.  Next New Year's we'll be in Japan and I'll be under pressure to impress my in-laws.

So I took some photos of my efforts.  In the photograph above, clockwise from top-left:
  • Tazukuri - Sweet and sticky dried sardines (I could only get fillets here, but in Japan we use whole sardines)
  • Kouhaku Namasu - Sweet vinegared daikon and carrot.  Kou means red, and Haku means white.  These are lucky colours also on the Japanese flag.  
  • Nishime - Root vegetables and chicken that have been cooked in fish stock, soy sauce, mirin and sugar.
  • Kuromame - Sweet and sticky black soy beans.
  • Hinode Ebi - "Sunrise Prawns" The shape of the prawn's back looks like the sunrise of the new year.  (sweet vinegared prawns)
In the photograph below is the Tai-No-Shioyaki: Salt Roasted Snapper.  Snapper is "Tai" in Japanese, so any event such as birthdays, New Year's or graduation can be celebrated with an "Omede-Tai" (a pun on the name of the fish, meaning "Congratulations")

Such a small selection of dishes could hardly be called Osechi Ryouri - most families will have dozens of small items, all beautifully arranged in Jubako boxes.  
Most of the dishes I made this year can be served as side dishes any time of year.  I stuck to the dishes I was most familiar with, so it was pretty easy.  Next year I'll try to do better.

We enjoyed our little Oshougatsu feast...
And there's plenty left in the fridge for tomorrow... that's the idea with Osechi Ryouri.


  1. Ooooh, oishii sou!! I wish I was still up there to help clean out your fridge :P. You are an inspiration to my inner Japanese chef...

  2. @Emily I wish you were here to enjoy it with us! Happy cooking!❤

  3. me and my family used to live there in japan by the base,he's now a retired airforce military and migrated here in ohio. i worked in japan for almost 9 years so i got used to japanese foods and have been craving for it so much! im so lucky to discover your page coz now i can do it myself although its hard to get some of the ingredients here...i just love your page! keep up the good work and God bless your family!