NEW YEAR IN JAPAN
Japanese Traditional New Year’s dishes (Osechi/おせち and Mochi/もち）
In Japan, a new year is very important, just like Christmas in Western countries. Some spend the new year with families, gethering and celebrating the new year, cooking special dishes and drinking. Some might spend the new year at hotels etc. The above dishes are very special cuisine, called “Osechi” (おせち). These were served as a breakfast on the 1st day of the new year at the Onsen Japanese Inn. They were beautifully displayed in a professional manner.
At homes, generally, we make special eggs called “datemaki” (だてまき） beans called “kuro mane”,（くろまめ）、 fishes such as salmon, sea bream, or herring roe and sweet potetoes with chestnut called “kuri kinton” (くりきんとん）etc, which are smililar to the picture top left. However, nowadays we can buy those food at supermarkets. It is very convenient to person like me. Big smile! Buy them and put them on plates or pack in special boxes called “jubako”. And then serve!! So easy and quick! Ｗe might eat “Omochi”(おもち) on the second day and the third day. We cook “omochi” in different ways.
This is a home made osechi. Dishes are nicely packed in the Jubako. Jubako, layered Boxes, are tiered boxes used to hold and present food in Japan. The boxes are often used to hold takeaway lunches, or bento, or to hold osechi, foods tranditional to the Japanese New Year.
The differnt ways of eating “mochi” (sticky rice cake)
This picture is “zoni”. Cook omochi with vegitables and chickens in soup. Another way of eating omochi is that with sweet red beans. That is called “Oshiruko” Oshiruko is sweet because we cook red beans with suger. Putting omochi inside red beans. In my home town, my mum used to fry omochi. That is called “age mochi”. Wrap them with dried seaweed and dip them into the soya sauce mixed with suger. Or it could be grilled and wrap them with dried seaweed and again dip them into the marinated soya sauce. The preparation of zoni varies both by household and region.
Have you noticed that something missing to enjoy the meal? Of course, that is a drink!!! There is a special drink we take supecially during the new year season. That is called “amazake (sweet sake)! Amazake is a fermented rice drink and if you think it is sake, actually you are wrong….. what a pity! However, there is 1% of alcohol contained. Amazake is rich in vitamins and minerals. There are many health benefits from drinking amazake, sometimes described as a drinkinable IV-driop. You get energy!! There are two kinds of amazake. One is made of sakekasu, which is sake lee, the leftovers when sake is squeezed from fermented rice. Another one is made of rice and ricemalt.