Saturday, 2 February 2013

Toshikoshi Soba

A special New Year recipe from 'A Tokyoite's Third Eye'

My friend Kiito over on A Tokyoite's Third Eye has been kind enough to write a guest post for Itsumo Japan all about Toshikoshi Soba, a special Japanese New Year tradition:

The first thing I want to introduce to you is a couple of Japanese New Year traditions.
New Year's Eve and New Year are big occasions for us, and as this is my first new year I have spent in the UK, I don't want to miss any traditions on this special occasion.

This is my attempt to cook what we usually eat for NYE.

New Year's Eve Noodle (年越し蕎麦)

One of the traditions for new year celebrations in Japan is eating soba noodle on new year's eve.  For its long and thin shape, we associate soba noodle with long and humble lives. So we eat soba noodle, wishing may our lives be long and humble too.
Customs and recipes may differ depending on the region though, I heard that people in Kagawa prefecture eat Udon noodles instead of soba, since Udon noodles are more common and popular in Kagawa.

This year, I made my own stock for the noodles. I used Dashi Kombu (seaweed), Bonito flakes, Mirin (rice wine for cooking) and soy sauce.

Ingredients (to serve 2)

Soba Noodles

Mirin 200ml  (みりん)
Soy Sauce 200ml 
Kombu (昆布)
Bonito Flakes (鰹節)

Spring Onions
Wakame (わかめ)
1 Egg per serving

Put 200ml of Mirin in a pan and bring to the boil.
Then add 200ml of soy sauce800ml of water, and a piece of Kombu (about 10cm length).
Once it starts boiling again, add a handful of bonito flake.

Then, let simmer for 2~3 mins.

Once it's cooled, strain the stock through a piece of muslin or gauze.

This stock is very useful so I made a jugs-worth to store in the fridge. You can even use the residue of Kombu and bonito flakes for another dish like this too!

This is not NY food so I will show you another time how to make this. :)

Cook soba noodles in a boiling water, they usually take 3-5 mins, (if you cant read the pack 分 is the symbol for minute).
Drain the water and put the noodle in a nice noodle bowl and pour the stock over. Garnish it with some chopped spring onions and Wakame if you have some. Dried Wakame will soften and grow once it gets wet, so you can add it in a bowl with some hot water first, or just drop it on top.
My mum always added Tempura, but unfortunatelly I did not have time. Instead, I added poached egg, which is also nice and a little healthier.
We start eating soba noodle about half an hour before New Year so egg might be a better option for your belly.

Most of ingredients in this recipe can be found in big asian supermarkets.
I'm sure Japan Centre in London has everything. You lucky, Londoners!

In the next article, I will cook another traditional new year food, Zouni.


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