Happy New Year! As we get older, it seems the year is getting shorter and no sooner do we turn around and we are facing the start of yet another year. This year I finally gave up buying a plastic “Kagami-mochi” decoration 鏡餅 since we always ended up throwing out the rice cake inside (not to mention the Japanese grocery store was all sold out by the time I got there). This year is the year of the rooster (or hen or chicken). Accordingly, I decorated our “Tokonoma” alcove 床の間 with the roosters my wife collected for the occasion over the years on our various trips to Japan. The two large ones are “Dorei” 土鈴 or bells made of clay and the smallest one is carved from wood.
The small wooden rooster is part of a 12 zodiac animal set my wife bought in Kyoto on our last trip to Japan several years ago.
As before, we started the day with a cup of cappuccino and my wife’s assorted home baked breads. We did our Ozou-ni お雑煮 and new year dishes for lunch. At this point, we refrained from digging into the Sushi Taro Osechi box (that is for the evening). I served several of the dishes I made as well as some I bought at the store.
I made the same dishes I always make such as “Datemaki” 伊達巻 (left upper), two kinds of chicken patties (one is with pine nuts and miso flavor or “Matsukaze yaki” 松風焼き and the other with blue cheeses – this year I used British Stilton and Shropshire Blue – and dried figs (left middle). I cut them in the shape of “Hagoita” 羽子板 ( the decorative item based on the traditional badminton like game that used to be played on New Year). My usual salmon kelp roll 鮭の昆布巻き (left bottom). Russian marinated salmon 鮭のロシアずけ (center top), Red and white “Kamaboko” 蒲鉾 fish cake stuffed with two kind of seasoned sea urchin or ウニの酒盗 from Maruhide 丸秀 (center bottom). Simmered freeze-dried tofu or “Koya-dofu” 高野豆腐 (right top) and two kinds of herring roe I prepared from salt preserved herrings 数の子の塩漬け; the one with bonito flakes is my usual one and the one below that was marinated in miso and sake lee 数の子の味噌漬け.
This is my usual daikon in sweet vinegar dressing or “daikon namasu” 大根なますgarnished with salmon roe ikura いくら and boiled octopus with sumiso dressing 酢味噌. This year, I could not get the type of octopus leg I usually get (sold out at our Japanese grocery store–I’m going to have to get started on this sooner next year). So I used frozen raw octopus from the regular grocery store. I prepared and boiled it myself–not a trivial task. They were rather small but tasted OK.
Finally. my New year’s soup Ozouni お雑煮. As usual, by my wife’s request, I put the mochi 餅 in fried tofu pouches 油揚げ. This year, I did not add any meat protein such as chicken or shrimp (for no particular reason). I also happened to get some Mitsuba 三つ葉 which added a nice unique flavor to the soup.
Since these New Year’s dishes would not be complete without it, we also had a small amount of sake (Shouchikubai Daiginjou 松竹梅大吟醸酒, US brewed from California Yamadanishki 山田錦). It was quite wonderful and we got quite full. Small dishes add up and mochi is very filling. But this was a good start of the New Year. Next, we have the opening of the Sushi-taro osechi box for the evening to anticipate.