Anybody making any special menus for New Year's Dinners?
My wife is from Tokyo, so she's already busy at work making mochi. We have a home mochi making machine, which looks like a cross between a rice cooker and a bowling ball cleaner. Mrs. Nid Hog started last night by soaking the short grained sweet rice and this morning she steamed it and ran it through the pounding cycle of the machine. You end up with a huge ball of dough made from steamed sweet rice that's been pounded into a glutinous mass. She separates those into smaller biscuit sized discs. These will end up being served in a variety of different ways. Some will go into a thick stew of chicken and vegetables that we'll eat on New Year's morning. Others will be fried or grilled. My kids like them with melted butter, soy sauce and toasted nori (the sheets of processed seaweed that are used for sushi making). They also like them rolled in kinako, a powder made of ground soybeans and suger. Some might wind up in bowls of cooked and sweetened red beans too.
There's a wide variety of "osechi ryori" or traditional New Year's foods too, but my wife and her family don't like them much, so we'll probably pass on them his year. However, we will have homemade noodles of some kind on New Year's Eve--the shape of the noodle is thought to be an auspicious sign of long life.
Although my wife is from mainland Japan, we picked up some nice tempura recipes living in Okinawa and we'll probably make some of those too. The Okinawan batter is thicker than what you normally find in mainland Japanese cooking. I think that we'll be frying prawns, vegetables (kabocha squash, carrots, peppers, lotus root, maybe bitter melon and whatever else the kids are clamoring for--maybe sme slices of Spam!) and a neat treat that we discovered in Okinawa--several long green beans wrapped in sliced cheese and ham, then dipped into batter and fried. Maybe a big pot of oden too--various kinds of fish cakes, kombu (seaweed) bows, hard boiled eggs and sausages (another Okinawan addition) cooked in a thin broth.
I've already stocked up on beer, sake, shochu and awamori, plus a couple of bottles of champagne for New Year's Eve. I'm going to crank up the "FieLDS Dynamite!! 2009" MMA tournament on New Year's Eve to get into the spirit of things, and we'll start eating and drinking. Hopefully we've laid on enough stock to get through the weekend!