I feel a bit odd to post recipes for Japanese New Year foods, Osechi Ryori (おせち料理), even before Christmas has arrived. These two holidays are really close to each other so I hope you don’t mind me starting to share the osechi ryori recipes early because I have prepared several dishes this year.
New Year (お正月, oshogatsu) is the most important and biggest holiday in Japan and I hope you enjoy the traditional Japanese new year dishes as we do. The first recipe I’d like to s hare for 2014 osechi ryori series is Tazukuri.
Tazukuri (田作り) is a very popular dish for osechi ryori and it is made of roasted baby sardines coated in a sweet soy sauce glaze.
Well, I know what you are thinking. After living in the U.S. for almost two decades, I know the whole fish (with head) is not so appetizing to many people. However, the baby sardines play an important role in Japanese cuisine. Besides tazukuri, other common uses for baby sardines include making dashi (iriko dashi).
We eat tazukuri on the New Year’s day as it symbolizes a bountiful harvest. Tazukuri (田作り) literally translates as “making (作り) rice paddy (田)” as sardines were once used as fertilizers for rice fields.
As far as health benefits, sardines are a great source for calcium. Growing up, my mom always made sure I ate some of this dish as it’s great for strong bones. Now it’s my turn to make sure my children eat this dish for strong bones and embrace the traditional Japanese cuisine.
Growing up in Japan, we typically make osechi ryori a few days prior to New Years. The reason for this is in the past, most stores were not open for 3 days during New Years. However, similar to Thanksgiving in the U.S., the meaning of holiday has changed and now stores are open even on New Years Day in Japan. To keep each meal interesting and appetizing over the 3 days, osechi ryori include a variety of dishes that can be kept for several days. In my next post, I will come back with a vegetarian osechi ryori.
I made a video to show you how easy it is to make Tazukuri. And please follow my YouTube channel if you haven’t.
- 1 cup (40 g) dried baby sardines
- 1 Tbsp. white sesame seeds
- 2 Tbsp. sake
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- ⅛ tsp. oil (optional)
- Put dried baby sardines and sesame seeds in a frying pan.
- Toast the sardines and sesame seeds on low heat for 10-15 minutes or until crispy. Make sure to stir constantly so the sesame seeds won’t burn. When you can break the sardine in two pieces with your fingers, transfer to a plate lined with parchment paper.
- In the same frying pan, add sake, sugar, soy sauce, honey, and oil. Bring to a boil on medium heat and reduce the sauce until the sauce gets thicken and you can draw a line on the surface of the pan with a silicone spatula.
- Add the sardines and coat with the sauce. Transfer to the plate lined with parchment paper. Spread the sardines out to let them cool. You can keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.
Some people add red chili pepper while simmering the sauce.