It is the New Year here in Japan. I want to wish you all a Happy New Year! This year's Chinese astrological sign is the inoshishi (wild boar).
Unfortunately, Satoshi had to work today. It's not that he wanted to work on the first day of the New Year, but it is his turn to...plus, if you were on a trip and ran into some kind of trouble, you'd want someone to answer your call, right?
This morning we had ozoni. It is a traditional soup that most families have on the first morning of the New Year. I wrote more about this last year, if you'd like a re-cap, check it out here.
For lunch, I didn't feel much like cooking, especially since it was only for myself. But because many of the shops aren't open today, I decided to see what was in my freezer...I came up with croque monsieur--a very fancy name for a ham and cheese sandwich. I sliced some red onion and sauteed them in some butter, then put some butter into the frying pan and toasted both sides of the sandwich. Then I sprinkled cheese on top with some pepper and oregano and put the whole thing under the grill for 5 minutes. Having it with a bowl of cafe au lait made me feel like I was in Paris...
Dinner was our o-sechi (traditional dishes for the New Year). Our rice was a kamameshi type (rice cooked in an iron pot called a kama), with kuri (chestnut), kuromame (black beans) & gomoku (usually five ingredients--carrot, konnyaku (devil tongue jelly), sansai (wild mountain plants--warabi (fern shoots), zenmai (flowering royal fern)), takenoko (bamboo shoots). The rice is cooked with a shoyu (soy sauce) base which is put into the pot along with all these ingredients. Nowadays instead of having a kama (iron pot), you can cook this dish in your rice cooker.
We also had kohaku namasu (carrots and white turnip soaked in vinegar, sugar and mirin).
Kobumaki (rolled kelp), this dish is to bring yorokobu (happiness).
Tazukuri (dried anchovies), which prays for a good harvest.
Hinode cut kamaboko (fish cake cut to look like the sunrise). The fish cake is made in the celebratory colors of white and red.
Nasudengaku-roasted eggplant with a dengaku miso sauce. The miso sauce is a little sweet. I made the miso sauce with 80g red miso (soy bean paste), 1.5 T sugar, 2 T mirin (sweet rice wine) and 1/3 cup of kombu dashi (kelp stock). Since I roasted the eggplant and shiitakes in the oven, they came out a bit dry. I'll try cooking them in the frying pan again soon. This dish isn't part of the New Year celebratory foods, but I thought it would be a good dish to accompany all of our other dishes.
We toasted with a cup of sake (rice wine)--a limited edition ginjo (highly milled rice with or without alcohol added) called Manotsuru Tokimeki made by Obata brewery, from the island of Sado in Niigata prefecture.
During this time of year, you are supposed to warm up the sake, but I couldn't find my tokkuri (bottle to warm up the sake). So I decided to use my reishu (cold sake) ochoko (cups).
Cheers! Here's to a great start of a foodie new year!