New Years day was very mild and quiet. After having cafe latte to wake up, we had a customary new year’s soup or “ozouni” お雑煮 which is the same as any other year. Many variations of ozouni by regions and families exist. If you are interested, here is the pictures of all kinds of ozouni across Japan.
Salmon kelp roll (left upper) and Japanese style chicken loaf with pine nuts (right upper) were specifically requested by my wife. This year, I made matsumae-zuke 松前漬け. The Japanese chicken loaf is called “pine breeze grill” or matsukaze-yaki 松風焼き.
After it cooled, I removed the loaf from the baking dish. Because of the Pam spray and the parchment paper, it came out without any difficulty. I first removed the all four edges (good snacking) and cut it in half dividing the short side into two long rectangles. I then cut the pieces into the shape of a Japanese “Hagoita” 羽子板 racket like you see here on the left. “Hagoita” is a racket used in a Japanese girl’s New Year game called “Hanetsuki” 羽根つき which is something like badminton but the racket is made entirely of wood. Nobody plays this game and “Hagoita” has been transformed into a New Year’s decorative item rather than actually being used as a racket. In any case, the shape of this dish is to imitate “hagoita”. Just before serving, I inserted the toothpick in the narrowest end to further emulate the handle of the hagoita. I brushed a bit of mirin on one side and coated it with aonori 青海苔 or powdered green sea weed (see the second picture from the top). Between the pine nuts and the green color, the New Years theme “pine breeze” is complete. Pine is auspicious along with bamboo and plum flower or “shou-chiku-bai” 松竹梅 in Japanese culture especially in New Year.
We drove to Dupont Circle on December 31 to pick it up. This is a two tired juubako wrapped in furoshiki 風呂敷, a Japanese wrapping cloth. It felt very heavy (a good sign!). According to my wife, who ran into the restaurant, while I waited outside double parked, the dining area of the restaurant had been converted to assembly area for osechi juubako.
After we came home, we unwrapped the furoshiki revealing the menu written in Japanese and English. Expectation heightened while we waited until New Year’s day evening to fully enjoy this (come back for the next installment to see what surprises await–to be continued).