Osechi Ryori: Traditional Big Meal To Start Your New Year!
For the new year, Japanese people eat "Osechi ryori". Have you ever heard of it before? Osechi ryori is a big meal we enjoy with all family members in on New Year's Day. Each osechi ryori has a special meaing. This post will introduce 10 major osechi ryori and some other dishes Japanese enjoy to celebrate the New year.
"Osechi ryori" is a special big meal Japanese eat to welcome and celebrate the New Year. The origin of Osechi goes back to the Nara period, more than 1,300 years ago. There is no strict definition of what is included as osechi. In this post, 10 major ingredients will be introduced.
The basic 3 kinds of osechi, which is called "mituzakana"(means 3 kinds of small dishes in Japanese) differ by regions. In the Kanto region, Kuromame(sweet black beans), kazunoko(herring roe), and tazukuri(candied sardines) are mituzakana. In the Kansai region, Tataki gobo(chopped burdock root) is used instead of tazukuri.
Each osechi ryori has a meaning.
Speaking generally, osechi is no more something mother's make. Nowadays, many people usually buy them online. With the improvement of food storage technology, osechi ryori now even include some Chinese and Western items.
1. Datemaki(伊達巻): Sweet Japanese omelette
Datemeki is a sweet Japanese omelet made from eggs and some dashi broth, with tons of sugar.
Since the shape of datemaki looks like scrolls, datemaki is regarded as a lucky food for improving your knowledge and academic skills.
2. Kurikinton(栗きんとん): Mashed chestnuts and sweet potatoes
Kurikinton is a sweet osechi ryori made from chesnuts and sometimes sweet potatoes.
Kinton means golden balls and kurikinton represents gold and silver.
3. Kohakunamasu(紅白なます): Pickled daikon and carrot salad
Kohaku namasu is made of pickled daikon radish and carrots. "Kohaku" means red and white in Japanese.
The combination of red and white colors is regarded as celebrational and lucky.
4. Tazukuri(田作り): Candied sardines
Tazukuri is a candied dried sardine. You can get them throughout the year at any supermarkets in Japan.
The meaning comes from a time when dried sardines were used as a fertilizer to bring a good harvest. Having a great harvest is implied in Tazukuri.
5. Kuromame(黒豆): Sweet black beans
Kuromame are sweet black beans simmered for a long time. It's one of the major components of osechi ryori.
"Mame" means "hard worker" in Japanese and kuromame symbolizes a longing for good health and having the ability to work hard.
6. Kazunoko(数の子): Herring roe
Kazunoko is herring roe soaked into a salt broth. You eat them with katsuobushi and some soy sauce.
Herrings have many eggs which symbolizes prosperity and good harvest as well a the possibility of having many descendants.
7. Kamaboko(かまぼこ): Fish cake
Kamaboko, a Japanese fish cake is one of the main items found in osechi ryori. When they are put into osechi, the color is usually red and white, colors used for celebrations.
The half-circle shape of kamaboko is similar to the sun rise, which is celebrational. Red brings good luck and white represents innocence. The combination of red and white is often regarded as a lucky combination.
8. Yutoebi(有頭海老): Shrimps with head
Shrimps are often simmered or boiled. Japanese people used to use iseebi, spiny lobsters, but since they got too expensive, they started to use ordinary shrimps instead.
The way heated shrimps bend their back and have long beards looks like an elderly person, which means that they are a symbol of longevity as an osechi.
9. Kobumaki(昆布巻き): Simmered konbu seaweed
Kobumaki is an osechi ryori which is a piece of herring rolled with konbu seaweed, usually tied with a dried gourd.
The word "Kobu" is a pun on "Yorokobu", which means to be happy in Japanese. Same as datemaki, the scroll looking shape symbolizes academic improvements.
10. Gobo(ごぼう): Chopped burdock root
Tatakigobo is a chopped burdock root dish with some sesame. Vinegar is mainly used to add taste.
Burdock roots symbolize harvest and strength. The black color is also believed to bring good luck.
Other dishes to celebrate your New year
Ozoni(お雑煮): Soup dish with mochi
"Ozoni" is a traditional soup dish served at new year. Ingredients and flavor change according to the area.