Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year, A Japanese Tradition

Grandma Sushi ChefSome of my earliest memories are of packing up the car and going to grandma's house on New Year's Day. Every year my grandmother pulls out all of the stops and cooks for a week in preparation for the big meal. I don't know many other Japanese people but the few I've run in to say their New Year's Day festivities are fairly similar.

America is used to hearing about the Lunar New Year which the Chinese and several other East Asian cultures celebrate. However, the Japanese New Year celebration happens on the Roman calendar New Year (the calendar the world operates on). Like all great celebrations from all the different cultures in the world, this one focuses on food. Lots and lots of food.

My grandma has been hosting the New Year's feast for decades before I was born and she continues to this day. She is an incredible 93 and a half year old who is able to outlast and out-cook the entire family. In recent years, the cooking tradition has brought the grandkids into the kitchen. I've come to really look forward to having my grandmother teach me how to prepare sushi, and to show her I still remember how to do what I learned the year before.

This year the family helped her make Tekamaki (Tuna Roll), Wantons, Spam Musubi (The Japanese LOVE spam...), panko chicken, and more!

Japanese New Year Food

For my family, the best part of the day is simply hanging out with my grandma and my uncle. Generations have grown up hanging out in the kitchen and eating food that blows any restaurant out of the water. Learning from the master, and having her approval is something I cherish.

Thomas and Grandma
Questions or Comments? Post them below!


Sunny said...

It is so heartwarming to see such tradition still be practiced! Pass it on! :)

Zim said...

Would love to learn some of her secrets! I think we'll need some family "cooking" days of our own to watch what you've learned so we can see some of what ypu've learned.....panko chicken sounds awesome but would love to know how to make sushi, the right way, too! Awesome story Thomas!

Kilya said...

A sushi kit is deffinatly on my to do list. I so want to make some sushi. Anything invloving dough is scary but dumplings are up there too.

Thomas said...

Honestly sushi rolls aren't as hard to make as I used to think. I think the hardest part is getting the rice preparation correct. You've got to have the right combo of sugar and vinegar to make the rice just perfect.

I'm thinking of doing a post dedicated to sushi-roll (maki-sushi) making because its really fun. I just gotta get the bamboo rolling mat.

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