Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Kochi’s New Year’s Dishes

The Basic Rules of New Year’s Dishes (Osechi and Zouni)
   Osechi, traditional Japanese New Year’s dishes are made using auspicious ingredients and cooking methods, in the hope of bringing health and prosperity in the new year. For example, burdock plants are used because they have deep roots, symbolizing continued prosperity for each generation of the family. A classic New Year’s meal would be a combination of osechi and zouni, a soup containing mochi rice cakes. Zouni’s ingredients and seasoning differ greatly between region and household.
Ms. Takahashi and her wonderful smile

What are the Characteristics of Kochi’s New Year’s Dishes?
   We asked Ms. Takahashi Moto, the head of the Kochi Kappo Cooking School! Some houses in Kochi arrange their osechi on large plates, instead of the more common tiered bento boxes. Sushi, such as makizushi (rolled sushi) and sugata sushi (whole fish sushi); iwai sakana (celebratory fish); and nishime (simmered, seasoned vegetables) are all placed on one plate. This is the famous sawachi ryori (serving many different dishes on one large plate) of Kochi! The people of Kochi’s dynamic personality seeps out of the food. Depending on the household, one may find various delicacies from the ocean surrounding Kochi, such as sashimi, steamed tai fish, buri nuta (sashimi with garlic leaf sauce), and whale meat. Kochi’s zouni is made with a clear, soy sauce flavored broth and uses mochi that is not cooked over a fire. This is because the Japanese phrase “cooking mochi” sounds the same as the phrase “to be jealous.” “And we can’t have New Year’s dishes leading to jealousy,” says Ms. Takahashi. Finally, local yuzu is added for fragrance, and the zouni is done!
CIR Han attempts cooking!
 
   Ms. Takahashi’s mother’s family (from the mountainous area of Kochi) adds lots of mountain vegetables, such as taro, to their zouni. On the other hand, her father’s family (from Kochi City) makes the much simpler zouni featured in this article. It's incredible how different zouni can be, even within Kochi! Experience Kochi’s culture through trying Kochi’s food! I hope that you can try some of these New Year’s dishes. You could even visit some of your Kochi friend’s houses over New Years and you might experience something new!
The completed product!
 
Let’s try some recipes!
Zouni
Ingredients (serves 4): katsuobushi
☆ ( light soy sauce, a dash of mirin, 1/2 teaspoon salt)
4 mochi pieces, greens (spinach, mizuna, ushioena, or other leafy vegetables), kamaboko, yuzu peel
① Place katsuobushi in 600ml of water and heat on stove. When the mixture reaches a boil remove the katsuobushi (broth is completed). Add ☆ ingredients and greens to the broth and cook for 1 minute.
② Place mochi and enough water to cover the mochi in a heat resistant dish. Heat in microwave until soft.
③ Place broth and mochi in bowls. Add yuzu peel and kamaboko!
 
Another traditional Kochi New Year’s dish!
Whale and Leaf Garlic
Ingredients: whale skin, leaf garlic
☆ ( sugar, sake, soy sauce in a 1-1-1 ratio)
① Cut the leaf garlic into thin, diagonal strips. Cut the whale skin into 5cm strips.
② Put the ☆ ingredients in a pan and heat on stove. When the mixture starts to boil add the ingredients from ①. Keep at a boil until the whale is fully cooked.

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