As the New Year approaches, I like to prepare classic Osechi recipes to mark the transition and bring good luck. The choices of food, colors and even the names of the dishes are all very intentional with Osechi. Plus preparing food ahead of time means a relaxing start to the New Year. It’s honestly my favorite time of year!
Four of My Favorite Osechi Recipes
It’s hard to narrow in on my favorite Osechi recipes, but I’ve decided on four that I just had to share. They’re easy-to-prepare and delicious enough to serve all year long!
Kohaku Namasu: New Year’s salad
This dish is perfect for Osechi and aesthetically has a significant cultural impact in Japan. The red and white together are seen as symbols of happiness and celebration. This salad combines crisp, white daikon radish and crunchy carrot, cut into matchsticks. The vegetables are tossed gently with a dressing of vinegar, sugar, mirin, and soy. It’s refreshing, delicious, and the colors are gorgeous.
Soba noodles have a special meaning in Japanese culture, as they’re usually eaten as a “happiness” food. While soba can be eaten at any time, it’s particularly popular on special occasions. Toshikoshi soba is intended to be the last food that touches your lips on New Year’s Eve – you can’t get much more “special occasion” than that!
This soup is made with buckwheat soba noodles, thin-sliced chicken, earthy shiitakes, and vibrant Japanese leeks. It’s a healthy, hearty way to send off the old year and ring in the new one.
Matsumae Zoni Soup
Traditionally all the dishes that make up Osechi are precooked and put into special boxes called jubako ahead of time. Instead of rice, mochi, or pounded rice cakes, are eaten. I love mochi, and it takes center stage in this delicious Osechi soup. Zoni is one of the only dishes served hot at an Osechi meal, which helps it stand out, as does the color of the fresh salmon and roe. Pops of color please the eye and the umami from the dashi and shitake mushroom are utterly satisfying. Zoni is one of my favorite Osechi dishes, and this Matsumae variety is probably my favorite overall.
A lot of Osechi foods center around mochi, including this one. I love the taste and texture, and they’re delightful in this dish as well.
Zoni is worth mentioning twice, as it’s filled with comforting flavors and bright colors. This Kyoto-style zoni uses white miso paste to add some sweetness. You can customize garnishes endlessly with bonito flakes, fresh greens, and so on at serving.
I hope you’ll try these traditional Osechi recipes this year. They’re a beautiful way to recognize how far you’ve come in the old year and focus on health, growth, and prosperity in the coming days. Plus, they’re all healthy and delicious, though you might get tired of mochi by the end of it!
Let me know how you like them, and if you have your own Osechi traditions! Happy New Year!