Kohaku Namasu (red & white salad)

紅白なます/おせち料理

Clean refreshing salad often a part of New Year’s fare, but delicious anytime of the year.

Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
• ~ 1 lbs. daikon radish
• ~ 1/4 lbs carrot
• 1 teaspoon salt
Dressing:
• 1/4 cup rice vinegar
• 1/3 cup dashi stock (or water)
• 3 tbsp sugar

Directions:
1. Cut radish and carrots into sengiri, or thin julienne strips. YouTube video of sengiri applied to cabbage:See the xxx recipe for instructions on this cutting method.

2. Kneed salt into cut vegetables. Set them aside for 20 to 30 minutes to allow water to be pulled from the vegetables. Drain and squeeze water from vegetables. The better wrung out the vegetables the crisper the end result.

3. Mix vegetables with dressing ingredients. Adjust to suit your taste. Water instead of dashi stock is a common substitute. Some add mirin and reduce the granulated sugar. well the shirodashi broth with the grated yam

4. Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. This can keep sealed in refrigerator for a couple days. Optional garnishes include thinly sliced kombu (kelp) and sesame seed, The color contrast of black sesame on the orange and white pickled julienned vegetables is striking.

For a great description of Japanese culinary cutting methods visit Taste of Japan’s page on vegetable cutting.

Kuromame 黒豆 (Sweet Black Soy Beans)

Shiny silky black sweetness-a part of traditional osechi ryori (Japanese New Year’s food) that promises health in the New Year

Like most of these traditional foods, there are family and regional variations. Try an easy modern method using a crock pot. kuromame
Servings: ~12-16
Ingredients:
• 2 cups kuromame (dried black soy beans)
• ~ 3 cups sugar
• 1 to 2 tablespoons of shoyu (soy sauce)
• 2 to 3 rusty nails (optional – imparts a nice black color) or cook in clean cast iron pot

Directions:
1. Wash beans thoroughly in cool water several times and remove broken beans
2. Bring beans and water to a boil on high heat. Then remove, cool slightly and skim off any frothy residue
3. Soak beans in 10 cups of water overnight (at least 12 hours)
4. Add sugar and soy sauce and cook on low for about 4 to 6 hours until beans are very tender. Cover during this stage with a pot lid or an otoshibuta (floating lid) to keep beans submerged
5. Keep adding cool water to just keep the beans covered during this long slow cooking process. Make sure the beans do not dry out during this step
6. Strain the beanst and boil down the remaining syrup until it is very thick and dark.
7. Add beans back to thickened sauce and refrigerate 6 or more hours
8. Serve chilled with osechi ryori, rice, or just plain as a snack. Store in refrigerator. Can also be used in kuromame daifuku mochi and other sweets.

Ozoni

Traditional soup served on New Year’s Day

Servings: about 4 to 5

Ingredients:
• 4-6 cups of dashi stock, or water and appropriate amount of dried dashi to taste
• 1- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (to taste)
• 1/3 cup cooked chicken meat cut into small pieces
• 4- 6 ounces mizuna, spinach, bok choi or other green leafy vegetable – lightly chopped if large leaves
• ~ 4 mochi – 1 per serving (two if very small)
• about 6 ounce or half a block kamaboko (1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices) – pink kamaboko adds a nice color to the soup

Directions:
1. Heat soup base (dashi stock or water + instant dashi) to simmer then add leafy greens. ozoni
2. Cook at low heat for only a few minutes until the vegetables are wilted.
3. Cook the mochi (either toasted over open flame, under a broiler, or in microwave) until just slightly puffy. Again this is quick unless the mochi is frozen. Some cooks simmer the mochi in the soup for a few minutes but not long enough to let it turn into a gooey blob.
4. Put one mochi into each bowl, add kamaboko then fill bowls with the hot vegetable soup. Garnish as you wish (carrots, sprouts, etc) or just appreciate the warm simplicity.

Some families add leftovers of family favorites (shrimp and shitake, nabbed from the jubako, is common at our house). Some families add udon noodles, some add a dash of sake and some do not include chicken. There are many regional and family versions of this basic soup. Find your favorite by experimentation.

Warning – several people die each year in Japan by choking on mochi. Enjoy it at your own risk. Tokyo Fire Dept FYI mochi choking first aid and statistics (Japanese)