As I write this we are a little over one hour from ringing in the New Year here in icy New York City. It’s already 2009 in Japan, where they’ve just woken up to celebrate Oshogatsu, the Japanese New Year. Japanese residents of New York still keep some of the traditions while living overseas, as you could tell by visiting any Japanese market or store in the city. When I dropped by Chiyoda Sushi to pick up lunch this afternoon, customers were picking up elaborate osechi ryouri meals they’d ordered in advance (for a pretty penny too – well over $100). For the more budget conscious among us, however, they did have packages of fresh toshi-koshi soba noodles available. Upon catching sight of those I snapped one up to prepare at home.
Toshi-koshi soba noodles, which JustHungry translates roughly as “end the old year and enter the new year soba noodles,” will be familiar to anyone who’s eaten soba before. The only difference is that they are extra long to signify longevity and they are eaten on New Year’s Eve. During my years in Japan I used to eat them at home while watching Kouhaku Utagassen (video clip here), sort of Japan’s answer to Dick Clark but with hordes of famous pop stars and traditional enka singers competing for top honors. So this year I’m continuing the tradition. Inspired by JustHungry’s excellent post on toshi-koshi soba, I dropped a raw egg in mine to make it tsukimi or “moon-viewing” soba. The egg kind of migrated around and refused to be photogenic and just sit in the center, but otherwise it worked out well and tasted clean and flavorful. I dropped in a spinach leaf, garnished it with scallions and tossed a little shichimi tougarashi or spicy red pepper mix in to round it out.
That carries me into the New Year. Tomorrow we’ll showcase a bit of American New Year’s tradition as both Kerstin and I will post about the hoppin’ john we’ve made – hers coming from her Southern Low Country roots and mine from the Texan side of my family. It’ll be a great 2009, y’all! Happy New Year!