January 18, 2021


All Things Delicious

The coronary heart of Japanese Cooking

6 min read

I have been considering a lot about finish of the 12 months culinary rituals and traditions recently. I maintain pondering why when I to start with professional Osechi (Japanese New Year’s cooking) as a younger bride (virtually only married for 2 months) in Tokyo all all those several years in the past, it so captivated me to this working day? In a way, it was and stays a culinary bridge and celebration of the two cultures that I deeply appreciate: Japan and the United States. I appreciate getting ready, enjoying and celebrating Osechi as a particular calendar year-conclusion ritual and annual tradition with my daughter. We glance forward to it each individual 12 months, from planning the menus, to searching alongside one another, to cooking and of program to the taking in! I truly enjoy the custom of getting all your searching and most of the cooking done in progress, so that this getaway can be enjoyed with your loved ones in a comfortable and leisurely manner.

Usually all the dishes that make up the osechi panoply are precooked and place into particular four-tiered lacquerware packing containers known as jubako by New Year’s Eve. New Year’s festivities operate from January 1 to 3. Through that time no cooking is performed – just extra non-perishable food is added to the jubako as spouse and children or friends drop by. Rather of rice, mochi, or pounded rice cakes, are eaten. If you are blessed ample to locate contemporary mochi at the close of the yr, by all indicates try out it! Mochi can be an acquired taste, and the real trick is hardly ever to overcook it as it will disintegrate.

Though my osechi of nowadays is stream-lined and a lot simplified listed here in the Bay place, it is no considerably less important and however crammed with osechi classics that we enjoy. I convey out the special over-sized ozoni soup bowls, and jubako that I have, and we will decide out new chopsticks to use in the course of our celebration. Each year, I make one thing new for my daughter to consider and typically enjoy!

Below are two of my favored osechi recipes to test and appreciate this season. They are equally pleasurable, uncomplicated to make and incredibly mouth watering.

Toshikoshi Soba on December 31st

In Japanese culture, soba (buckwheat) noodles have normally been observed as a “happiness” food stuff, served on exclusive occasions. It is classic, far too, when shifting into a new house to greet your neighbors with hikoshi soba (transferring soba). This requires a engage in on terms, as soba also signifies “close” or “near” – like neighbors.

A further soba personalized is Toshikoshi Soba (year’s-passing soba), meant to be the previous food stuff to touch your lips on New Year’s Eve. The tradition is so proven nationwide that usually reservations are necessary even for shopping for the freshly made soba to prepare dinner up at house. Just one 12 months I tried to make my possess: operating with fresh buckwheat flour proved really really hard, but my toshikoshi noodles received nods of acceptance from my Japanese family even though, without having the unique chef’s knife used by soba cutters, they were being a trifle thick.

Tokyo-style Toshikoshi Soba
Serves 4

  • 6 ¼ cups h2o
  • A 3-inch by 3-inch piece of kombu kelp wiped with a moist fabric and flippantly slashed to launch the flavor 
  • 2 oz. katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (sweet sake)
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to flavor
  • 1 lb. dried or 1 ¼ lbs. new soba noodles
  • 4 dried or refreshing shiitake mushrooms stemmed (reconstitute dried ones by soaking in warm h2o with a sprint of sugar for 30 minutes – reserve 2 tablespoons of liquid to incorporate to the broth)
  • ½ lb. hen breast slice into thin slices
  • 2 huge Negi (Japanese leeks) white part only, reduce diagonally into thin slices
  • 5 ¼ oz. spinach trimmed, parboiled, and drained
  • Shichimi togarashi (Seven-spice pepper) to style for garnish


  1. Heat the h2o with the kelp in a deep saucepan. Just before it boils, get rid of the kelp and pour in the dried bonito flakes. Boil, stirring, for about a few minutes, then pressure into a clear saucepan. Insert the soy sauce, mirin, salt, and mushroom liquid. Provide to a boil once more taste, regulate seasoning if important and cook more than medium heat for a several minutes.
  2. Five minutes in advance of serving, heat up the chicken and leeks in the broth. In a further pan, prepare dinner the noodles in accordance to directions on the deal, then drain and rinse to get rid of the starch.
  3. To serve, place a mound of noodles in every deep soup bowl. Top rated with just one mushroom and different mounds of rooster, Japanese leeks, and spinach. Carefully ladle on the broth and provide right away. Go the seven-spice pepper individually.

Ozoni on January 1st

Zoni is a Japanese regional soup and can even vary household to house and involves pounded toasted rice cakes (mochi), chicken or fish, and vegetables served separately immediately after gorging on the numerous foods in the jubako. It is usually the only warm dish served and is an integral section of the meal. Matsumae Zoni is a specialty of Hokkaido, and a person of my complete favorites to make for Osechi, aka Japanese New Year’s. It will certainly be on our menu on January 1st.

Matsumae Zoni Soup: Salmon & Salmon Roe Rice Cake Soup
Serves 4

  • 4 parts fresh salmon fillet, 2” by 1”
  • 4 tbsps. crimson salmon roe
  • 6 cups kombu dashi* stock (see Notes)
  • 4 thick slices peeled daikon radish
  • 8 thick slices carrot, peeled
  • 4 new shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
  • 4  fresh or dried rice cakes (mochi)
  • 4 tbsps. soy sauce, or to style
  • 2 tbsps. sake
  • 1 tsp salt


  • A couple of sprigs of trefoil (mitsuba)
  • Grated yuzu peel or Meyer lemon peel


  1. Make fish inventory in accordance to the directions in the Notes area. Flavor stock with soy sauce, sake and salt. Include daikon radish, carrot, shiitake mushrooms and salmon. Boil right up until soft (roughly 5 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, toast rice cakes till they puff up and brown. It can take about 6 to 7 minutes. They should really appear like oversized marshmallows.
  3. In each deep soup bowl, lay 1 rice cake on the bottom and set up other components from it. Insert inventory and leading with salmon roe and a handful of sprigs of trefoil and or yuzu peel. Serve straight away.

Recipe Notes

How to make Kombu Dashi Stock:

Consider a 6-inch piece of kelp (kombu), wipe evenly with a moist fabric and put into a pot with 6 cups water. Provide to a boil and take away kelp. Add a generous 3/4 cup of dried bonito shavings (katsuobushi) and boil for one minute. Flip off heat and just after 2 minutes, strain.

Content New Yr!

Both of those of these recipes can be discovered in my ebook, “The Excellent Planet of Osechi: Japanese New Year’s Recipes”

Lucy’s extended love affair with Japan started out when she was 15, when she finished up traveling to Japan for the summertime. It really was really like at 1st sight. She examined Japanese in Hiroshima, stayed in Tokyo’s Olympic village and lived with a Japanese household in Okayama. Returning to the States, she explained to her household that she wanted to go back again to Japan and it would be her important in college. No one particular thought her! And nevertheless, that is specifically what occurred. She used her junior 12 months overseas in Tokyo, attending Waseda University and dwelling with the Mitsui relatives. She was their 21st overseas daughter. She bought her degree from USC in Japanese and Japanese lifestyle. Sooner or later, she married a Japanese nationwide and finished up residing in both Tokyo and Nagoya. In total, she has lived in excess of 13 years in Japan. Japan continues to be aspect of her heart, even although she is now residing in the Bay space.

Her culinary life in Japan bundled getting a cafe critic, a foodstuff historian and author, the editor of Gochiso-sama!—her culinary publication on Japanese delicacies, and the operator of her very own cooking university, Lucy’s Kitchen.

She continues to really like Japanese foods, and now cooks for her university-aged daughter, who is similarly obsessed with Japanese foods, in particular road meals like Yakisoba, Okonomiyaki and so on.

She started off her Japanese meals site, Many thanks for the Meal: Savoring Japan’s Culinary Treasures (www.thanksforthemeal.internet) in excess of 3-1/2 several years ago.  Her deep really like of Japan has expanded and grown to integrate not only nourishment for the overall body but nourishment for the brain and spirit by way of her Zen Coaching observe (www.lucyseligman.com), utilizing power equipment and an exploratory procedure that empowers her clients to unlock the best version of on their own. All pictures by Lucy Seligman.

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