January 2, 2013

Osechi at my Wife's Parents' House/妻の実家のおせち

On New Year's Eve, my wife and I visited her parents' house to stay.  
We had a wonderful dinner that night, including toshitori zakana and toshikoshi soba.
Toshitori zakana refers to the special fish that you have on New Year's Eve.
Toshitori zakana:
toshi = year, age, etc.
tori < toru = to take, to gain, etc.
toshi o toru = to get old
zakana < sakana = fish
toshikoshi soba:
toshi = year, age, etc.
koshi < kosu = to pass, etc.
soba = buckwheat noodles
In general, the toshitori zakana is salmon in Kanto (Eastern Japan) and buri (adult yellowtail) in Kansai (Western Japan).  Note, however, that I, for one, hadn't heard the word when I lived in Tokyo.
年(とし)= year, age, etc.
取り < 取る = to take, to gain, etc.
年を取る = to get old
魚(ざかな) < 魚(さかな) = fish
年 = year, age, etc.
越し < 越す = to pass, etc.
そば = buckwheat noodles

On New Year's Day, we had these gorgeous osechi as breakfast.

Right:  Two different types of datemaki (rolled omelette mixed with fish paste)
Center:  Kazunoko (herring roe)
Left:  Kuwai (threeleaf arrowhead, not water chestnut)
右: 伊達巻、二種類
中央: 数の子
左: 慈姑、くわい、クワイ(英語ではthreeleaf arrowhead。water chestnutではない) 
Top right:  Kuri kinton (mashed sweet potatoes with sweetened chestnuts)
Left center:  Another type of datemaki, different types of simmered beans such as kuromame (black beans), and chorogi (stachys affinis, Chinese artichoke) (red ones)
Bottom right:  Kouhaku (red and white) namasu (daikon and carrot seasoned with vinegar, salt, and sugar), kouhaku renkon (lotus root)
Bottom left:  Prawn, tazukuri or tatsukuri (small dried sardines seasoned with soy sauce and sugar), chashu(?) (roasted pork fillet)
右上: 栗きんとん
左上: 別の種類の伊達巻、黒豆など色々な種類の煮豆、チョロギ(チョウロギ)(赤いやつです)
右下: 紅白なます、紅白れんこん
左下: 海老、田作り(たづくり、たつくり)、チャーシュー(?)
The leftmost container (tier of a juubako (tiered boxes) contains:
Simmered octopus, kouhaku (red and white) kamaboko (fish paste), tazukuri or tatsukuri, and kanten (agar-agar) (green ones)
Later, my brother-in-law's wife (that is, the o-yome-san of the parents' house) brought more kouhaku namasu with chorogi on top.
Naturally, we had ozoni, too.  This is a Niigata style ozoni.
My wife also had mochi with an (or anko).  The o-yome-san said she had also made a Tokyo style ozoni, which she would serve for lunch, but I missed it because I had to leave before noon.

I walked back home because I wanted to burn off some calories.  Despite the weather forecast, the weather was very good.
Bokushi Dori (Street)
I enjoyed the 1-hour walk (I dropped by "Harimaya" the supermarket on my way).


Fräulein Trude said...

Happy New Year! What a wonderful osechi ryōri. Your wife's sister in law did a fantastic job.

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: Yes, she did, and she is a good cook. Acutally, my wife's parents' house is a minshuku (民宿), a type of inn.

Arthur3030 said...

Wow. The osechi lookes beautiful. I once spent 3 days (in South Carolina, USA) cooking osechi for New Years just to learn the custom. But mine was not this lovely.

No mochi in Niigata style ozoni? Maybe it is hidden by the broth.

Hiroyuki said...

Arthur3030: Well, not all osechi are homemade, I suppose.

Yes, the mochi is placed first in the bowl, so you can't see it in the photo.

The Niigata style onozi is characterized by the inclusion of salmon (toshitori zakana in Niigata), among others.

A deluxe version contains salmon roe (ikura), too, as described here:
(Japanese only)

In my opinion, the greatest difference from the Kanto style ozoni is that here in Niigata, mochi is simmered in boiling water to soften before placing in a bowl, whereas in Kanto, it is grilled.

okasan said...


Hiroyuki said...

okasan: あけましておめでとうございます。

Sissi said...

What a feast! No wonder you took a long walk to burn off some calories (although to most Europeans, or maybe to all, Japanese traditional food looks like super-diet food and the calories it contains are nothing in comparison with the rich festive food here... maybe apart from France where seafood is traditionally eaten for Christmas and New Year, but then there is lots of chocolate, chocolate cakes...). Happy, Prosperous and Healthy New Year to you and all you family!
PS Are the red worm-like things fish cakes?

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: Happy New Year to you, too!

Besides the dinner on New Year's Eve and osechi on New Year's Day, I had a lot of sake, so I really needed to burn off calories. I'm on a diet again, and this time, I'm for real! I have decided to lose 10 kg in six months.

Chorogi is a plant.

Chorogi roots were new to my children, and I had to tell them that they were plants not caterpillars or anything.

Sissi said...

Haha! So these are what the French call crosnes! I have never tasted them, but they appear occasionaly on the market (very expensive though). I have just read they were imported to France from Japan in 1882 and they first appeared in a village called Crosne, hence the name in French. Very interesting. I will buy them one day.
I'm glad I wasn't the only one thinking they were some kind of animals ;-)
Dieting, getting slimmer... it's a regular problem of all the gourmets I guess... Especially if we like drinks too ;-) After my trip to Japan I thought that if I lived in Japan I would be slimmer, but now I have doubts (especially given my passion for deep-fried food ;-) ). Good luck with your 10 kg goal! I cross my fingers. I am very curious to see what steps you will take.

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: Yes, there are fat people in Japan, too. (I am only slightly fat, though.) Yet, the percentage of those with an MBI of 30 or greater in Japan is among the lowest in the world.

No unusual steps. The main concept is to get your weight down while you are asleep. To that end, I will eat less for supper and go to sleep with an empty stomach. Other than that, I will have two other meals a day properly, take a walk for 20-60 minutes a day, and refrain from eating between meals.

I hope I can lose 0.5 kg in a week and 2 kg in a month.

Hiroyuki said...

Sorry, not MBI but BMI (body-mass index)!

David said...

Your family must have enjoyed a marvelous New Years's Day with that o-sechi breakfast to start with!
I live alone in Tokyo (well, in a share house). but I made soba (I always use juwari soba, and I cook it for a minute less than the directions on the package say to) and my o-zoni was Hokkaido style. It was dashi, sake kasu, white miso, salmon, carrots, and daikon (no mochi). It was really good.
By the way, does Niigata-city have a famous fish market? Is it a tourist attraction? I love visiting markets in Japan.
PS. I think walking is the best exercise there is. I quit the gym and just walk, walk, walk. I live in Suginami-ward and there is a fantastic walking trail along the Kanda river. The best thing is that there are many pocket parks along the trail with bars to do pull-ups and I found one that even has special benches for sit-ups. I think Tokyo is an ideal city to grow old in!
Happy New Year!

Hiroyuki said...

David: Yes, especially my children, who stayed there for three nights from Dec. 30 through Jan. 2

Niigata city has the second largest wholesale market in terms of floor area, as briefly described here:

You can visit there, but there are some strict rules:
Sorry, Japanese only.

I was born and bred in Tokyo, so I think I know what you mean. What I miss in this rural city is walking. I liked walking when I lived in Tokyo.

Sissi said...

Hiroyuki, I also love walking (I hate exercises, going to gym etc.) and just like you and David, my favourite walks are in the city... When I was in Tokyo I think I must have made lots of km in one week only! I ate more than usually and actually lost some weight. I walk a lot in my city, but it's quite small...
Your idea to eat less for the supper and walk every day sounds great. I should follow your example!
I know there are some fat people in Japan (I have seen some), but the majority is so slim, I really felt fat in comparison ;-) I should lose some weight before my next visit to Japan so that I feel better. It would be a good motivation. I think you have motivated me with your slimming resolution! Thank you!

Yangsze said...

Happy new year! That looks delicious! For new year here, we always have noodles, eggs, sashimi (must have fish because of the homonym for luck), seaweed, ikura etc. This year, like last year, I bought only a little osechi from the local Japanese supermarket. Usually I make a big sashimi dinner on New Year's day for family and friends, because my family doesn't like too much osechi.

This year I also made Korean style mixed grain rice which was purple. I learned about this from my Korean friends (I don't think it's a new year's thing for them though) but it's very similar to zakkokumai. You add mixed grains (in this case, glutinous brown and black rice, beans, millet etc.) to white rice and it turns the rice a pretty purple colour. My husband and kids were very doubtful about it but it turned out delicious, although I suspect (because of the glutinous rice) that it is pretty high in glycemic sugar!

Hiroyuki said...

YSC: Happy New Year to you, too!

Yes, yes, osechi are much of a thing of the past for me, and I simply buy only the ones I like. For example, I bought two kamaboko at half the regular price on Jan. 3. I feel like having sashimi with sake (and beer) on the first three days of January (sanganichi) rather than osechi.

Zakkokumai is aromatic and tasty, and I can imagine how delicious your Korean mixed grain rice is, too!

Hiroyuki said...

Anonymous: You are quite welcome!