Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Chirashi Sushi Party with Magewappa Hangiri

Living abroad, New Years Day is the day that makes me feel most homesick, because it doesn't feel very special.  So, this year, I decided to have a party on that day, preparing a variety of Japanese foods and share them with my beloved friends!  These special foods involve a lot of detailed preparation like other special foods in any culture.  It took me almost whole day to prepare all the ingredients on New Years Eve, but the result was great!  Sharing time and a meal is always joyous and it was greater as it was the first day of the year.

Here is one of the dish I made called 'Chirashi-sushi'.

No fish nor seaweed nori?  That's right, but this Chirashi sushi is a common type of sushi we eat especially at festive occasions in Japan.  There is cooked rice mixed with various flavored vegetables underneath - shiitake mushrooms, kanpyo - a type of gourd, renkon - lotus root and fried tofu.  On top of the rice, there are sprinkled fried eggs - first made as a very thin, flat omelette and sliced, boiled sugar peas, boiled shrimp, and salmon roe to finish!  It is a good party dish to share.

To prepare this, Magewappa Hangiri is used.  It is important because it cools down sushi rice as it is mixed with vegetables and vinegar.  Since the Hangiri's surface is unfinished cedar wood without any vanishing, the wood breathes and balances the moisture content in the rice.  Hence the rice is preserved in a great condition after it is prepared.
Also, this Hankiri is a beautiful way of serving this dish!  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Year's Day in Japan.

Happy 2016!  I wish you all the very best this year, a year full of joy and happiness.

In Japan, Jan 1 is the day in a year when people have the biggest celebration.  People decorate the front of a house with the special kind of wreath which is often made of straws of rice or hemp with a pine leaves and a kind of fruit.   By placing it on the front door, it is said to protect the house from evil.

People prepare special meals called 'Osechi' (御節) meal for the big day spending the last few days towards the end of the year.  It has many small dishes and each one has a special meaning, such as the prosperity of the family, becoming a dedicated person etc.

These foods are preserved for a few days, and the original idea was to give holidays to the house wives during 'Oshogatsu' (お正月) season.  It is also the time we eat 'Mochi' (餅), sticky pounded rice in a savory soup.

Families get together to have the Osechi feast.  Also, a lot people visit shrines on the New Year's Eve or the first days of the New Year to purify the mind facing to the higher existence and pray for the good year.  This season is called 'Oshogatsu' and most people have holidays for about a week before/after the day.  In the old times, January was called 'Mutsuki' (睦月) in Japanese.  'Mu' means intimate and 'tsuki' means month.  This month is supposed to be the time when people spend good time with all the family and deepen their relationship.