Saturday, January 1, 2011

Japanese New Year’s Symbol Meals

Osechi ryori (おせち料理)DSC_0090

I never liked to eat osechi ryori. My late mother prepared things a few days before the New Years and forced us to eat it the first three days of the new year. She would say that the use of ‘fire’ for those first three days was bad luck so she would cook absolutely the minimum. My father in other hand, would order my mother to warm up his sake and make some snacks for sake (酒のつまみ)all the time. He really knew how to irritate my mother.  My brothers and I had to eat those osech ryori cold and the only thing warm was mochi soup (雑煮) in the morning. We could hardly wait for those days to be over.

I really don’t know what posessed me to cook osechi ryori but I was intrigued by the process of cooking and the symbolism of each ingredients. The Japanese food market where I purchased the ingredients were full of people and osech ryori items were way over priced. I started questioning my motives; why I’m doing this?, is it worth my time and money? That thinking came at the end of shopping and my cart was full. It seems to me that to put everything back was too much of a hassle. I pushed the cart straight to cashier. I could have abandoned it yet I never had the courage to walk away… I should have.

black beans (kuromame 黒豆) – live healthyDSC_0091

Herring roe (kazunoko 数の子) – great descendantsDSC_0045

Sardine (tazukuri 田作り) – good rice harvestDSC_0093

Seaweed (konbu 昆布) – joyDSC_0090

Burdock root (gobo ごぼう) – strong foundationDSC_0095

Taro (sato imo 里いも) – have lots of children DSC_0062

Pink and red fishcake (kamaboko かまぼこ) – good luck colors. Japanese use these colors in celebrations.

Rolled sweet egg (datemaki 伊達巻き) – gorgeous

Shrimp (ebi 海老) – long lifeDSC_0096

Lotus root (renkon 蓮根) – bright futureDSC_0070

Cooked chestnuts (kurikinton 栗金団) – good fortune


After all this I still don’t like it very much. Probably this is the last time I’ll make it.DSC_0100

And a small pleasure to end the day: marshmallow soba (buckwheat) teaDSC_0110DSC_0105DSC_0108DSC_0111

Hope you had a Happy New Year! And that your joy of cooking will continue.


  1. WOW. what a beautiful presentation! i love the traditional japanese new years food! i spent 4 new years in japan and fell in love with their traditions...the marshmallow buckwheat tea sounds DELICIOUS

  2. I'm glad you never made that for me. It looks weird. :) I could probably eat most of it but the herring roe just freaks me out. I guess I can never be a good Japanese person.
    The marshmallow tea looks awesome though. I think I'll make some today.

  3. It's funny how holidays make us feel like we need to do things that we don't actually like to do. That being said, I really enjoyed hearing about your family and childhood. The food looked nice, but I agree with you...some of that stuff is really not my favorite.

  4. Be glad Mariko. Kazunoko is the worst. Yuck. Half of that looks like it would be good, the other half? Hmmm...

  5. Dear FootPrints,
    I would like to hear more about your life was like in Japan.

  6. Mariko and Kegan,
    I thought the herring roe was the best part in osech ryori. It was the most expensive item too. But whatever. No worry I won't make you eat it.

  7. Dear Jacob,
    Thank you for checking out my blog.
    I think osechi ryori is an acquird taste and I'm not there it.

  8. I thought it was pretty good. It did take a lot of time to do. It seems that most things Japanese take some time and effort though. Don't ask how long it took to get the kimono right...

  9. Kurk,
    That was our secret how long it took to wore the kimono. I have not wore kimono for so long that I forgot some process but a few trials and errors, I succeeded.