Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Unorthodox Osechi at My Parents'

Wow! So many visitors and nice comments! Now I feel kind of guilty because I’m going to have to disappoint you a little. More than half of the food in the photos are not home-made.
Another warning: As mentioned in the title, this osechi (Japanese New Year’s dishes) we eat at my parents’ is really unorthodox. The traditional osechi is described in sites like this and this with their symbolic meanings and recipes(!). So if you want to learn about Japanese culture correctly and/or try out some of the osechi dishes yourself, refer to those sites.

There are rules regarding what kind of food should be packed in which tier of jubako (lacquer boxes), but our family members totally ignore them. Besides, some Western foods are included in our osechi, as you see. Traditional osechi doesn’t really include much of “kid’s favorites,” so I guess my sis and I begged mom to pack things like meat balls, karaage (deep-fried chicken) and ebifurai (deep-fried shrimp coated with breadcrumbs) when we were kids (and my dad, too, because those are his favs.)

Now the details…

Those pretty colored kamaboko (steamed fish cakes), rolled sushi, yokan (sweet bean paste jello, next to the strawberries ) and green peas are store-bought. We made the boiled prawns and ebifurai. Also, in the upper right corner is our home-made konnyaku -sushi, but they’re hard to see.

We made the inari-zushi (fried bean-curd stuffed with sushi rice), meat balls, ebifurai and chicken karaage. Everything else was store-bought. The datemaki (rolled sweet omelet) in the center was a little different… it had a piece of chestnut at the bottom. The yellow and striped kamaboko had some western touch with cream cheese and salami sausage. The persimmon slices above the datemaki tasted very good.

The food in the small, gray ceramic containers are more like the traditional osechi dishes. From the left, they are kazunoko (salted herring roe), kamaboko, sweetened beans including kuromame (black beans) and nishime (simmered burdock, bamboo shoot, konnyaku and kobumaki).

Close-up of some simmered foods (Kobumaki, burdocks and konnyaku). Kobumaki is my favorite and it HAS TO be home-made. It’s basically strip of fish rolled with kelp and tied with kanpyo (dried gourd shavings), seasoned with sugar, soy sauce and a little ginger. I don’t know what kind of fish is popularly used, but we use mackerel.

On the white plate --- Actually those were what we had left after packing jubako. The small fish, tadukuri (small sardines simmered with soy sauce and lots of sugar) and rolled squid with fish-egg in the center (the white ones) were store-bought and didn’t taste very good. We’ll never buy them again.

On the blue plate --- Sashimi !! From the left, they are yellowtail, tuna, salmon, squid and deep-water shrimp. My niece and nephew love the deep-water shrimp sashimi soooo much, and I love yellowtail sashimi. BTW, my mom always makes a big fuss about getting wild yellowtail for sashimi, but this year we couldn’t find any (even though we shopped around quite a bit) and had no other choice but to buy cultured one.

I forgot to share my expertise with you :) My mom and I made several of this thing out of aspidistra (Haran) leaves using kitchen knife only, not scissors. Good for decoration, and also prevents the taste of one food getting onto another when serving different kinds of foods altogether on one big plate or in lacquer boxes. (But as you see, we use aluminum foil more.)


purplegirl said...

oh my gosh -- that looks divine! what's all in it?

Ms One Boobie said...

Can i have some.. please.. ??!!?? pretty please..???!!??

Fish Fish said...

Obachan, wow! Zeitaku! Are these all home-made? Waiting for ur explanations. :P

Reid said...

Hi Obachan!

*gasp* *faint*

Wow! That is a feast. All the food looks so delicious! I'll be passing through Tokyo on my way to Singapore in about a month. I'll have a long lay over at Narita (7 hours) so I'll be walking around for a while...perhaps I'll be in Shinjuku or Akasaka (mmmm). Can't wait to hear more about the food!

chika said...

Happy New Year obachan,

I actually think that your osechi really is authentic... beautiful, great job!


obachan said...

Happy New Year, everyone!! How’s your new year going so far? Mine is so busy…..

> purplegirl --- I added some more details about osechi dish. Enjoy!!

> Mik --- Welcome to my site! To be honest, some of them didn’t taste as good as previous years….but we love to have them anyway.

> Grace Wing-Yuan Toy --- So nice of you to leave a comment! The yellowtail sashimi was sooooooooo good. Just melted in my mouth :D

> MrsTweety --- Oh my god, WE HAD TONS OF LEFTOVERS!! Wish we could send them to Canada….

> fish fish --- Well, as you read in the post, we took an easy way out ;P But still we needed to cook all day on Dec. 31st. When we finished packing, the Kohaku Utagassen was already started.

> Reid --- OMG, should I call an ambulance? ;P Enjoy your explorations in Tokyo. To be honest, I’ve never been to Shinjuku or Akasaka yet. Must be exciting to visit those places.

> OsloFoodie --- Thanks so much! They sell many kinds of ready-made foods and colorful ornaments for osechi these days, so it’s easier to make our New Year’s dishes look gorgeous.

> chika --- Thank you, but if you’d actually tasted our osechi, you’d have been really shocked. My mom uses crazy amount of buri-no ara for zoni soup and simmered food. Those who are not used to such strong dashi flavor (like my sister’s husband) seem to have trouble with our osechi. ;P

Fish Fish said...

Dear Obachan... kekeke... now fish fish know why the Osechi or urs very different from the osechi I had 3 years ago in my host family's place. :P

Btw... yeah for the Aka this year!

obachan said...

Well, it’s our unique family history.
I wanted Shiro-gumi to win because I like Matsuken-samba so much.

pinkcocoa said...

hi hi obachan~
gomene...Have not been visiting lately. Ohhh I love your oshechi! So colourful and so many variety or food too! This is definitely something I would like to have on the first few days of new year!!

Actually my family also don't follow traditional Chinese new year dishes. :p We just cooked what we like and give it an auspicious name. ;-)

obachan said...

Hi pinkcocoa,

Nice to hear from ya! Sounds like your family also has pretty creative mind, too ;) Your New Years dishes must be gorgeous, too.