PROJECT: Osechi-Making

Dec 11, 2023 | Cooking Club

PROJECT Osechi-Making

December is a busy time… The Japanese aptly call the final month of the year shiwasu, written with calligraphy for “professor” 師 and “running about in a tizzy” 走. In Japan shiwasu is a time of frenzied activity that culminates with Oshogatsu (New Years) when families gather to celebrate and share OSECHI (New Year holiday food), packed into a multi-tiered lacquer box called a jūbako.

Most of the food can be made far ahead and keeps well for days, even weeks. I’ve chosen six items that require varying degrees of time and skill to prepare. Recipes for all are stored on this website. Choose one or more to make in YOUR kitchen and let us know how you’re doing. If you have questions, post them to the Facebook group KITCHEN CULTURE COOKING CLUB.

See you there…

 

Nishime (soy-simmered vegetables)

Nishimé, a simmered assortment traditionally enjoyed during Oshogatsu, Japan’s New Year holiday season, can be made days ahead if kept at cool room temperature.

Download the recipe.

Kohaku Namasu (red & white celebration salad)

RED 紅 and WHITE are the colors of felicity; foods with these colors are served on happy occasions. Here crimson carrots and snowy white daikon appear in this Celebration Salad with aromatic yuzu citron.

Download the recipe.

 

Kuro Mame (sugar-stewed black beans)

Word play adds a nuance of flavor to osechi items like this “black” (kuro) “bean” (mame) dish. Written with different calligraphy shifts the meaning to “difficult work” (kuro) and “earnestness” (mame). Working with earnest determination in the year to come will bring sweet rewards.

Download the recipe.

 

Tazukuri (fish brittle)

Written with calligraphy meaning “tilled fields” the fish brittle is a New Year delicacy that symbolizes fertility and abundance. Tazukuri are nibbled on New Year’s Day (best served with a well-chilled, dry saké) hoping for a sweet, prosperous New Year.

Download the recipe.

Tataki Gobo (Smashed Burdock )

This dish takes its rather alarming name from the thwacking sound emitted when burdock root is tenderized with a blunt, heavy tool. In the traditional Japanese kitchen, this would have been a surikogi, the wooden pestle used in conjunction with a ceramic suribachi (grooved mortar) to make the sesame sauce.

Download the recipe.

 

Kuri Kinton (chestnuts in sweet potato paste)

A New Year’s treat throughout Japan, chestnuts simmered in sugar syrup (their golden color enhanced by kuchinashi no mi dried gardenia pods) are tossed with mashed sweet potato (also color-enhanced with gardenia pods).

Download the recipe.

 

Visit my Kitchen Culture blog to learn about KUMQUATS and download recipes.

Read my December 2023 newsletter.

Show Us Your Kitchen Project

QUESTIONS? COMMENTS?
Ready to SHARE YOUR KITCHEN PROJECT with others?

KITCHEN CULTURE Cooking Club members, head over to our Facebook Group. Not yet a member? Please join – membership is opt-in and free of charge.

Looking forward to seeing what you’re making in your kitchen…

PROJECT Cooking with Fish Sauce

PROJECT Cooking with Fish Sauce

There are lots of ways of using fish sauce. Here are a few popular examples: (top, left) NABÉMONO (hot pots that get assembled ahead and simmered at table) are often made with a seasoned broth. IKANAGO NABÉ seasoned with funky ikanago shoyu, is brimming with fish,...

Miso Soup

Miso Soup

An Honorable Bowl of Soup The Japanese have several words to describe their ubiquitous soup seasoned and enriched with miso. The prosaic miso shiru 味噌汁 is a generic word meaning "miso-thickened broth" while miso ji-daté 味噌仕立て is a functional, culinary term meaning...

Project MISO SOUP

Project MISO SOUP

In most Japanese households, miso soup is served daily, often as part of breakfast, though it could just as easily appear at lunch or dinner. Most Japanese have strong regional preferences when choosing what miso to use (details posted to Kitchen Culture blog); the...

Kumquats

Kumquats

Kumquats are called kinkan 金柑 in Japanese, meaning "golden citrus."  The fruit is native to south-east China where they have been cultivated for hundreds of years, though the scientific name is Citrus japonica. There are dozens of varities of kumquats but the round...

Recent Posts & Projects