Japanese Food 100 – #19 Osechi-ryori

osechi ryori, japanese food

Osechi-ryori are specially-prepared New Year’s dishes to be eaten during the first three days of January.
Most dishes are cooked in order to be preserved for at least three days so women don’t have to cook during that period.
Various kinds of beautifully-prepared dishes are set in lacquer boxes.

Each of the dishes has some auspicious meaning which reflects people’s wishes.
For example, Kazunoko, herring roe, represents fertility, Kuromame, cooked black beans, are for health (mame means healthy), and lobsters are for longevity because their bodies are bent like an old man’s.

Other dishes served as a part of Osechi-ryori is Ozoni soup.
Eating the very chewy and elastic rice cake with soup, we wish for good luck through the year.
Ozoni soup was made from seaweed, dried bonito, dried small sardines and so on.
Some are seasoned with miso and some with azuki beans.
There is even a soup with fermented soybeans, natto.
Depending on the region, the taste is varied.
70 percent of ozoni soups are a clear sumashi-jiru and about 10 percent are white miso soup, which is served mainly in Kansai area.
If you look at the shape of the rice cake, you’ll find that it also varies from region to region!

In recent years, many people purchase Osechi-ryori from restaurants, department stores, supermarkets and so on.  Also, you can find different types of Osechi-ryori, such as French cuisine type of Osechi-ryori or Chinese cuisine type of Osechi-ryori.  Price also varies from reasonable price to expensive one like more than 100000 JPY for 4 people.