Today is Hinamatsuri (Girl's Day). In Japan, they also call it momo-no-sekku (peach blossom festival). When a girl is born, her parents or grandparents buy an elaborate set of hina dolls (Girl's Day dolls) unless they are passing their own set down to her.
The hina dolls are dressed in traditional kimono (wear) and are displayed on a terraced stand that is covered with red carpet. Peach blossoms, shiro-zake (white rice wine) and hishi-mochi (diamond shaped rice cakes) are also placed on the stand with the hina dolls. The hishi-mochi are colored pink, white and green. Pink represents the peach flowers, white represents snow of winter and green represents the new green that will come with spring. The dolls are displayed from the end of February until March 3rd. It is believed that the dolls should be taken down soon after the festival otherwide the daughter's marriage may be delayed. It is a day which the family prays for the happiness and health of their daughter.
There are some foods that are eaten on this day. One is chirashi-zushi (rice seasoned with vinegar and sugar with a variety of colorful toppings). Another is sakura mochi (a rice cake flavored with sakura (cherry blossoms)), inside is an (sweet bean paste) and it is wrapped with a salted sakura leaf which can also be eaten).
Today, for breakfast we had chirashizushi, assorted Japanese sweets (hanamidango or san-shoku-dango (tri-colored mochi on a skewer usually seen at hanami (cherry blossom viewing)), sakura mochi, and manju (steamed black bean bun) , kushi-katsu (deep fried kisu (sillago), uzura tamago (boiled quail eggs) and bacon wrapped asparagus on a skewer) and green tea.
In 2002, I was fortunate to be able to see an elaborate display of hinaningyo (Girl's day dolls). Instead of the usual tiered stand, this display was housed in a real doll house! The owner, Ms. Hosoda, dressed each doll herself and decorated the doll house too. This household follows the Lunar calendar, so her display is usually put up in April. Her home was over 400 years old and sat on over 2 acres of land (very rare in Japan!) It was an excellent opportunity. This is a photo of the display.
Since I haven't seen many ume (plum) blossoms or momo (peach) blossoms yet, I'm using photos that I took in 2002. This one was from the Osaka castle's peach grove.
Chirashizushi is quite tedious to make, if you can find a ready-made mix (like I did), it will definitely save you some time. But, if you want to try to make this from scratch, I'll attach the recipe:
Chirashizushi from Orange Page #8: Serves 4
3 cups of rice (540 cc)
1-8x10cm sheet of konbu (kelp)
2 Tbsp. sake (rice wine)
*Cook the rice with the konbu and sake
Awase-zu (seasoning for rice)
3.5 Tbsp. vinegar (preferably rice vinegar)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 tsp. salt
*Mix these ingredients and leave aside
6~7 dried or fresh shiitake mushroom
250 cm (15g) kanpyo (dried gourd)
3 cm carrot, sliced into sticks
*Cook these veggies for 13~14 minutes in 1.5 Tbsp. shoyu (soy sauce)
1.5 Tbsp. sugar
2 cups (400cc) dashi (fish, seaweed stock)
Ama-zu renkon (sweet-sour lotus root)
100g (2/3 of a lotus root) lotus root
a little salt
a little vinegar
Sweet sour seasoning for lotus root:
3 Tbsp. vinegar (preferably rice vinegar)
1.5 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. dashi (fish, seaweed stock) OR water
Nishiki tamago (scrambled egg crepe)
pinch of salt
1.5 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. sake (rice wine)
1 Tbsp. oil
*Put 2 eggs in a bowl with the seasoning (except the oil) and scramble.
Put 1 Tbsp. oil into a pan and heat.
Put 1/3 of the egg into the pan and cook
Remove from pan
Repeat until all egg is used.
Roll all egg and thinly slice-chiffonade, set aside
Other veggies to decorate:
50g kinusaya (green beans)
Cook until tender
in 1/3 cup (65cc) dashi (fish, seaweed stock)
pinch of salt, leave aside
other items to decorate:
thinly sliced yakinori (roasted seaweed)
kinome (leaf of Japanese pepper)
Putting the chirashizushi together:
After the rice is cooked, put out into a big, flat bowl
Use the awase-zu to season the rice while fanning (need a person to fan)
Add in your seasoned veggies and mix.
Put the ama-zu renkon, nishiki tamago, and other items and veggies to decorate onto the top of the the sushi.
*if you don't have these ingredients readily at hand, just make the seasoned rice and put your favorite foods on top.