Just Jenn Recipes

New Year’s Day 2011

Japanese Americans celebrate New Year’s Day with lots of good luck food. You’re basically rolling the dice hoping that eating a tiny fish will get you through. It’s a bet worth taking.

Every year I invite different people to join in the fun, usually people with kids or who enjoy being kids – but always people who love to eat and aren’t afraid to try some different foods.

Last year was a feast, this year was more of the same, complete with dessert bar. I must always have a dessert bar…

Honey Shoyu chicken wings
Brown Sugar Meatballs
O.G.’s flank steak
Onolicious Chili
Fried Shrimp Balls
Spam Musubi
Somen Salad (noodles – for a long life)
Tazukuri (teriyaki fish – for a prosperous year)
kuromame (black beans – for health and success)
kurikinton (sweet potato w/chestnuts – for wealth)
gobo (burdock root – for a strong family)
FRESH mochi (the best mochi)
kamaboko (joy, happiness)
Ozoni (traditional new year’s day soup)
Broken Glass Jello
Pink An (azuki bean) Mochi
Peanut Butter + Jelly Mochi
Milk Tea Cupcakes w/Mascarpone Frosting

The comments/emails I get most is how do decide what to make for large parties? Well for this one it’s a little bit of tradition and a whole lot of flavor.

I always do two main dishes and if it’s more than 20 people – three:

The difference between my everyday Honey Shoyu Chicken and these party wings? Sake. (Shh.)

Brown Sugar Meatballs are easy because they go in the slow cooker, turn it on and move on to the next item.

Onolicious Chili - not at all traditional but how can you pass up something so onolicious?

A dish that I ask for every year is O.G.’s secret recipe Flank Steak. It’s to die for amazing and even with the recipe I never get it right.

As far as tradition goes, there are certain things you HAVE TO EAT if you want 2011 to be extraordinary:

Tazukuri is a dried sardine that I cook in a homemade sauce. If you can get past little tiny fish heads, they say you will have an abundance of good luck.
Kuromame insures good health. Perhaps this is why I spend so much time in the ER, since I often pass on this dish…

Eating Gobo Kinpira is supposed to keep your family strong throughout the year.

Kurikinton is a Japanese Sweet Potato. It is mashed and then sweetened chestnuts are placed inside. They say the color gold/yellow will bring you nothing but fortune.

Eating Kamaboko is supposed to bring you happiness, but really how can you not be happy looking at something so pretty. These kamaboko are specially made only once a year at New Year’s.

Somen Salad – is how I serve the noodles – noodles signify long life. Every party needs a salad and this is the tastiest. A little noodle, a little lettuce, the perfect side dish. So if you want to live to 90 like O.G. you best be eatin’ some noodles.

You always have to serve shrimp because the bent angle of the shrimp supposedly looks like the bend of an old man’s back so if you want to live long you have to eat shrimp. I know. Crazy talk. But every year I am never quite satisfied with my shrimp dish. This year I made Fried Shrimp Balls. Basically anything good is fried and that sounds like ‘happiness’ to me.

Another tradition is New Year’s Day soup – ozoni. Everyone’s is different. When I was in Hawaii for New Year’s my father in law would make his with abalone. None of that here. First I fill the dishes with small tofu, char siu, shitake mushrooms, mizuna, kamaboko, fried nori chips and toasted mochi. Then I pour a dashi broth on top. If you eat this you are guaranteed a good year. Hear that? GUARANTEED.

Now for foods that aren’t at all traditional but a MUST for any party:

Sushi from Sakae. This is an OLD SKOOL Japanese American sushi shop in Gardena. Nothing fancy, this is the place to get new years sushi if you don’t want to make your own and they are back ordered for months before the new year. It’s a family favorite.

Edamame – also not traditional but I enjoy using my serving platters to the best of their ability and who can resist an edamame tree?

Soooo not traditional, Spam Musubi is a staple for all parties I do whether the party is fancy or not. People love it and I get requests for it all the time.

Forget all this stuff – where’s the desserts??

Broken Glass Jello is usually my MiL’s specialty, but she wasn’t here this year and I just didn’t have room in my fridge, I enlisted the Food Librarian to come to my rescue and make it for me. So pretty.
The Food Librarian also made cream puffs. MY FAVE.

I must make a cupcake for every occasion and this time I used some deeelish loose leaf tea from Royal T in Culver City and made lovely Milk Tea Cupcakes with Mascarpone frosting. Light enough that it was easily eaten after the buffet of new year’s food. That was the hope anyway!

The Food Librarian came over the day before so I could teach her how to make traditional an (sweet red azuki bean) mochi. As she worked on perfecting that I moved on to crazy fillings and made some Peanut Butter and Jelly mochi. Recipe to come.

I provided lots of Japanese snacks too, to eat in between…eating.

I’ve now got this party down to a science and I even made notes to myself from last year, which was weird. I highly suggest you write notes to your future self, “You don’t need to make pork” is something that I will always hold dear.

All in all I made 18 dishes this year, that’s LESS than years past. I must be slacking. Here’s to a lot of good luck in 2011!

**Read about how I shopped for all of this, here. Craziness.

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New Year’s Day 2011



17 Responses to “New Year’s Day 2011”

  1. rachel says:

    Okay, what do I have to do to get invited?? This looks amazing!!

  2. Shari says:

    This looks amazing. I’m especially enamored by O.G.’s Flank steak. The somen noodle dish looks amazing too. Everything is so colorful. I await my invitation for next year :D

  3. Nanette says:

    Such an amazing and impressive spread! Thanks so much for including us!

  4. mom2chloe06 says:

    Wow, the food you made looks wonderful! Happy New Year’s indeed!! :-)

  5. Sue says:

    What an amazing spread, everything looks so delicious! I love your little descriptions underneath the food names what they symbolize for, very cute :) Have a Happy New Year!
    p.s. your Pez collection is awesome :)

  6. Mimsy says:

    Wow! That impressive spread looks really delicious. Now I want to go to Beard Papa for cream puffs.

  7. Jenn says:

    Looks so good! You must have went to Sakae sushi! :)

    I stumbled across your blog when I was on a hunt for bluberry Mochi cake. My auntie made it yesterday and I didn’t have a chance to ask er for the recipe.

    Happy new year!

  8. Erin H P says:

    mmmmm…reminds me of the lunch my Auntie Karen puts on every 1/1 in Kaneohe, but yours is cuter and has cupcakes. I tried to do a nice New Year’s brunch this year, but on a much smaller scale. If only we had Sakae Sushi in Milwaukee…Happy 2011!!

  9. LW says:

    What an awesome spread! Brings back memories of when my grandma did New Year’s day. We had to eat at her house, then make the rounds to all the other auntie’s houses and were forced to eat something and visit — this was all afternoon! There were always those certain dishes that I can’t see/eat w/out thinking of New Year’s. That flank steak is one! There is a special trick to making that egg stick, isn’t there? :)

  10. mia says:

    Wow you made all that? Your post popped up in my google reader’s recommended items and I was hoping it of a restaurant doing a Japanese buffet. (I’ll admit I didn’t read it, was too busy drooling over the pictures!)

    Awesome work!

  11. Anna says:

    Nice spread! I think I’d eat just about everything except for the things with fish. The Jell-O is interesting. I know the kids around here would like looking at it, but does it really taste good??

  12. hello there!
    what a beautiful display of food and desserts! i love the broken glass jello. i want to make that for my next party. it’s so colorful and exciting to look at. :) happy new year!

  13. joyce says:

    everything looks delish!!!

  14. kotomi says:

    I can’t believe you prepared so much all by yourself!! Amazing. I had a lot of these at home on New Years Day too, with my family in Orange County. I remember as a kid I used to fight over the last bit of kurikinton with my sister. And neither of us wanted to eat the tiny fish. Japanese traditions always remind me of home :) Happy new year!

  15. poppy says:

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I remember being dragged to my grandparents’ home first thing in the morning on New Year’s Day (after staying up way too late on the Eve) just to eat kuromame and ozoni. My grandma said these foods had to be the first thing you ate in the new year, hence the early start–was it the same in your family? Living overseas, I now make my own ozoni with whatever’s available. I bring back enough vaccuum packed mochi whenever I’m home! Happy Birthday to your grandmother! And wishing you all the best in 2011–thanks in advance for sharing your life and recipes with all of us!

  16. Naomi says:

    I really miss having oshogatsu at my mom’s. Now I just make this for myself and my kids, which isn’t the same. But your spread is so inspirational and awesome!
    Makes me want to crash your party!

  17. Wendy says:

    Love reading your blog! O.G.’s flank steak looks yummy. Reminds me of a recipe I used to make for marinated flank steak that was then dipped in panko and fried. The flank steak was cut up to marinated so the strips were great for serving at gatherings. I haven’t made that for years. Will have to dig up the recipe and make it. Let me know if you want the recipe too :)

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