Tazukuri (sardines simmered in mirin)
Part of the traditional Oshogatsu menu of preserved osechi-ryori items, this dish can keep almost indefinately. However, the sweet, sticky and slightly crunchy tiny fish are usually quickly gobbled up, Dried sardines are simmered in mirin and sprinkled with sesame seeds. They symbolize a bountiful harvest, (sardines were once used as fertilizer) and literally translates as “making rice fields”. Full of calcium, this dish is great for strong bones. Shown served in a contemporary stoneware oblong bowl.
In a heavy skillet, dry roast the sardines until they soften. Remove from the skillet, and add the dashi, soy sauce, sugar and mirin. Bring to a boil, and immediately return the sardines to the skillet. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the sardines caramelize. They will be very sticky.
Spread the sardines out on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with toasted white sesame seeds. Serve mounded in the center of small communal bowls.Serves 6-8