Oshogatsu 2011

Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu (Happy New Year)! May 2011 bring you great health, scrumptious food and good times. We celebrated Oshogatsu in the traditional way: enjoying osechi ryori with our good friends and family. The centerpiece this year (I suppose a sort of hassun platter, if you will) was my husband’s arrangement of snow crab legs on ice, pictured at left. While I do the majority of the cooking for New Year’s, there are usually one or two dishes my husband makes, and I’m often just as surprised as our guests are when they’re presented.

He was inspired by Kichisen’s arrangement of snow crab on snow as seen on Kyoto Foodie, but I have to admit I was a little skeptical at just the logistics of it. But he used ice instead of snow, and snake weed instead of bamboo, and I was impressed by its sheer beauty and abundance. What I and our guests especially appreciated were his choice of tableware, including a large Kenzan-style ceramic box and delicate, round red-and-white kyo-yaki covered dishes that hold the yuzu (citron) sauce.

We added some new things to the menu, including the boiled shrimp (cleaned and skewered to keep their round shape) and abalone pictured above. Of course, there were all the usual favorites as well, including (from top to bottom, left to right): pink and white kamaboko (fish cakes), datemaki (egg and fish cakes), kombumaki, ikura (salmon eggs) in yuzu container, kazunoko, grilled buri (yellowtail) and kuromame (black beans.)

We stacked most of the food into an antique black lacquered 4-tier jubako, including the various simmered vegetables and chicken iridori pictured above, but others — including salads and sushi — went in separate bowls and atop trays.

Some of hits (besides the crab legs, which got gobbled up) were the kikkabu and kuromame, which turned out especially well this year. I followed Elizabeth Andoh’s recipe in her latest book Kansha, and they turned out perfectly tender and sweet. In previous years I had trouble with the beans gradually hardening over time, but this time they remained tender. I made extra to keep snacking on at home in the coming days.

Links to recipes are on the Oshogatsu page as well on the various pages of the recipe section.