This is my Osechi and a few zo-ni (miso soup with o-mochi) for our New Year’s holiday breakfast. We usually eat it from January 1st to January 3rd. Although it depends on the amount of leftovers.
The date we eat and what kind of dishes the osechi contains depends on what area of Japan one lives. My osechi contains dishes from a few different regions of Japan.
The reason for using stacking boxes is because we hope to stack some good luck, it’s kind of pun. These are my boxes, which have simpler and cheaper ingredients than fancy osechi. I put 5 different dishes in the first box, 5 in the second box, and the third box has 1 dish. Each dish has a different meaning, which is based on wordplay, symbolism, etc.
The menu and the meaning of each dish:
1st box (bottom center): 5 side dishes
Kamaboko (red and white in upper left corner): Steamed fish(surimi) paste formed in a semicircular shape.
The red and white colors mean celebration. From the shape, Kamaboko is a symbol of the sunrise.
Kuri-kinton (yellow, lower left corner): Mashed sweet potato with chestnuts.
This dish represents our hope of being lucky with money.
Tamago-maki (yellow, upper right corner): Fried eggs.
It looks like a rolled scroll, so it represents the hope of gaining knowledge and the fulfillment of learning.
Tatukuri (gray, lower right corner): Small fried dried fishes.
It means wishing to gain riches.
Kuro-mame (black, center): Boiled soy beans.
It means work like a horse. It’s kind of a pun based on the Japanese word “mame.”
2nd Box (upper left corner): 5 dishes, fried dishs and pickled food
Kobu-maki (Black, upper left corner): Cooked fish rolled in seaweed (kobu), and tied with dried gourd shaving (kanpyo).
It represents the hope for longevity and happiness. It’s kind of a pun, as well.
Matumae-zuke (Dark green and beige, lower left corner): Mixed seaweed and dried squid. Usually, with some herring roe mixed into it.
I don’t love the herring roe, besides it’s expensive. I don’t put it in my dish.
I’m not sure of the meaning, maybe it means to be blessed with a child.
Buri-no-teriyaki (Beige and black, lower right corner): Fried yellowtail.
This fish is called by different names as it grows larger, so it means we hope for success.
Su-dako (white and red, upper right corner): Boiled and pickled octopus. Depending on the area of Japan, some people eat it for osechi.
“Tako” has a similar pronunciation but a different meaning, it means a lot of happiness, another pun.
Namasu(red and white, center): Pickled raw radish and carrot.
The red and white color means celebration and in this dish it also represents the hope for peace. I think…
3rd box (upper right corner): 1 dish, made from mountain vegetables.
Chikuzen-ni: Cooked lotus root, burdock, carrot, kon-nyaku* and chicken, etc.
It means we hope for family harmony.
O-zou-ni: Miso soup with o-mochi
Depending on the area of Japan, some people use soy sauce soup instead of miso soup.
O-mochi: Steamed and pounded glutinous rice (mochi-gome), it’s sticky, so it symbolizes longevity. It’s an auspicious food, so we usually eat it on New Year’s day and the next several days. Since we cook a large amount of it, usually it is added to many different types of meals (even deserts!) until it’s all gone.
kon-nyaku* = Grated, gelled and boiled Asian potato
* = asterisks
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