Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year "Osechi" Dinners

New Year has arrived, and I've had wonderful first days making and enjoying traditional Japanese New Year dishes with festive feelings!

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Prepping of dashi stock. Jason helped me with shaving dry bonito while watching a football game..haha. I made dashi with a little more kombu than I usually use in my classic-style donabe, "Hakeme". The aroma was so gorgeous that I wanted to bathe in it.

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Because we were going to have a New Year party on the 3rd day, on New Year's Day, we had a rather quiet celebration just two of us. the new year soup ("ozoni") was made with the rich dashi stock, and it tasted so soothing.

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On January 3, we invited friends for a big New Year celebration ("Osechi") dinner. We started with sake and traditional New Year appetizers. I made egg and fish rolls ("date-maki"), Satsuma-yam puree and sweet chestnuts ("kuri-kinton"), and burdock root in savory vinegar and sesame sauce ("tataki-gobo"). I also made braised black beans ("kuromame-ni") and spinach in black sesame sauce ("horenso goma-ae"). I forgot to garnish the black beans with gold leaves!

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Tai snapper, cured in seasoned shaved kelp ("tororo konbu"). Tai is a lucky fish, so we gotta have it!

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Middle course was donabe-braised root vegetables and chicken ("chikuzen-ni"), made in classic-style donabe, "Hakeme".

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Main donabe course was with house-cured pork belly hot pot! I cured a big block of pork belly with "Moshio" seaweed salt for 4 days, and sliced into thick pieces.

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In the donabe, I cooked konnyaku shirataki noodles, tons of cabbage, shimeji mushrooms, and white wood-ear mushrooms with pork belly. The kombu-base broth was infused with all the vegetables and meat flavors and so wonderful. The final "shime" course was with Inaniwa udon from Akita and extra pork belly. I used my large donabe steamer, "Mushi Nabe", without a steam grate for these, and everything was gone quite quickly among 7 of us. I was so happy that everybody enjoyed the hot pot!

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The ending was Tanba black beans, coated in Uji matcha, Satsuma sweet potato and peanut crackers, and donabe-steamed matcha cakes . We had such an amazing evening together...ate, drank (emptied 6 bottles of sake and wine!), chatted, and laughed for 7 hours until almost 2 am!