Osechi Ryori おせち料理 (Japanese New Year’s Food)

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  • Osechi Ryori are the traditional foods enjoyed on New Year’s day in Japan. They come in an assortment of colorful dishes packed together in special boxes called jubako, which resemble bento boxes. Every dish of these traditional foods has special meaning in welcoming the New Year.

    The 3-tier Osechi Ryori (Japanese New Year's Food) filled with colorful dishes.

    The Japanese celebrate the New Year Day with traditional New Year foods called Osechi Ryori (おせち料理). It is considered the most important meal of the year as each dish serves as well-wishes for the coming year.

    What is Osechi Ryori?

    Similar to bento boxes, Osechi Ryori is usually packed in 2-3 layers of lacquer boxes (ojubako) and there are many dishes in each layer. The entire family would share one ojubako to enjoy on new year’s day. The multi-tiered boxes symbolize the hope that happiness & wealth come continuously, like the layers of lacquerware.

    To welcome the New Year with you, I’ve included a selection of popular Osechi Ryori dishes below. Each recipe also comes with a video that guides you through the cooking process. I hope you enjoy the spread!

    And don’t miss our popular side dishes & desserts to serve with Osechi.

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    The 3-tier Osechi Ryori (Japanese New Year's Food) filled with colorful dishes.

    21 Popular Osechi Ryori Dishes

      1. Sweet Rolled Omelette (Datemaki) 伊達巻
      2. Candied Chestnut and Sweet Potatoes (Kuri Kinton) 栗きんとん
      3. Candied Sardines (Tazukuri) 田作り
      4. Sweet Black Soybeans (Kuromame) 黒豆
      5. Herring Roe (Kazunoko) 数の子
      6. Daikon & Carrot Salad (Namasu) 紅白なます
      7. Pickled Chrysanthemum Turnip (Kikka Kabu) 菊花かぶ
      8. Pickled Lotus Root (Su Renkon) 酢れんこん
      9. Pounded Burdock Root with Sesame Sauce (Tataki Gobo) たたきごぼう
      10. Simmered Chicken and Vegetables (Chikuzenni) 筑前煮
      11. Instant Pot Nishime 煮しめ
      12. Simmered Shrimp (Ebi no Umani) えびのうま煮
      13. Salmon Kombu Roll (Kobumaki) 鮭の昆布巻き
      14. Yellowtail Teriyaki (Buri no Teriyaki) ぶりの照り焼き
      15. Decorative Fish Cakes (Kamaboko) かまぼこ飾り切り
      16. Kamaboko Fish Cake with Salmon Roe 蒲鉾いくらのせ
      17. Kanto-style Ozoni (New Year’s Soup) 関東風お雑煮
      18. Kansai-style Ozoni (New Year’s Soup) 関西風お雑煮
      19. Fresh Homemade Mochi お餅の作り方
      20. How to Eat Mochi (Japanese Rice Cakes) お餅各種
      21. Sweet Red Bean Paste (Anko) 餡子

    1. Datemaki (Sweet Rolled Omelette) 伊達巻

    A green plate containing Datemaki, Japanese sweet rolled omelette, enjoyed during the New Years.

    Typically served in a lacquered jubako (special square boxes similar to lunch box), Datemaki is a sweet rolled omelette that makes a very popular Japanese New Year’s food. It is by far my favorite dish among the new year foods. And I hope you give this delicate looking omelette a try too!

    2. Kuri Kinton (Candied Chestnut with Sweet Potatoes) 栗きんとん

    Japanese New Year dish Kuri Kinton is served in the lacquer bowl.

    Kurikinton literary means “chestnut gold mash”, which symbolizes economic fortune and wealth. It’s important for New Year meal to bring good luck and prosperity. If you make this dish, please use Japanese Sweet Potatoes for its bright yellow color. Not only they are sweeter than regular sweet potatoes, yellow is also an auspicious color for the new year.

    3. Tazukuri (Candied Sardines) 田作り

    White flower-shaped ceramic containing candied sardines (tazukuri)

    Made of roasted baby sardines & coated in a sweet soy sauce glaze, Tazukuri is another popular dish for Osechi Ryori. We eat it on New Year’s day as it symbolizes a bountiful harvest. Tazukuri (田作り) literally translates to “making (作り) rice paddy (田)” as sardines were once used as fertilizers for rice fields.

    4. Kuromame (Sweet Black Soybeans) 黒豆

    A white and red Japanese bowl containing Kuromame, sweet black soybeans, topped with gold leaf for the Japanese new year's celebration.

    Kuromame literally means “black bean (黒豆)” in Japanese, and it is often served on New Years Day as a part of Osechi Ryori. The shiny black beans make a beautiful contrast to the red lacquer jubako container, which holds all different kinds of colorful traditional meals. Eating kuromame also is considered good for your health for the new year.  If you want to cut down on cooking time, you can use your pressure cooker and follow this Instant Pot Kuromame recipe.

    5. Kazunoko (Herring Roe) 数の子

    A red lacquered bowl containing Kazunoko (Herring Roe) topped with katsuobushi.

    We enjoy this golden-colored Kazunoko on New Year’s day as it symbolizes a prosperous family and many offsprings.  This prized delicacy has a unique crunchy texture and it’s one of the most popular dishes among Osechi Ryori.

    6. Namasu (Daikon & Carrot Salad) 紅白なます

    A black bowl containing Namasu (Japanese Daikon and Carrot Salad).

    Namasu is a daikon and carrot salad that is lightly pickled in sweetened vinegar.  This dish was introduced to Japan from China around the 700s (Nara period) and it is especially enjoyed during the New Year in Japan. Since red and white are considered celebratory colors in Japan, you will see these colors being used in many traditional ceremonies. This salad is easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time.

    7. Pickled Chrysanthemum Turnip 菊花かぶ

    A black lacquered plate containing Pickled Chrysanthemum Turnip (Kikka Kabu).

    Simple decorative touches on a vegetable can transform a dish from ordinary to special. These Pickled Chrysanthemum Turnips will bring your Osechi Ryori game to the next level.  And you only need some basic cutting techniques!

    8. Pickled Lotus Root (Su Renkon) 酢れんこん

    A black plate containing Pickled Lotus Root (Su Renkon), garnished with chopped red chili pepper.

    Marinated in a sweet vinegared sauce, Pickled Lotus Root called Su Renkon (酢れんこん) is one of popular Osechi Ryori, the Japanese New Year Food.

    9. Pounded Burdock Root with Sesame Sauce (Tataki Gobo) たたきごぼう

    A Japanese bizen bowl containing Pounded Burdock Root with Sesame Sauce (Tataki Gobo).

    Dressed in a delicious sesame sauce, this Pounded Burdock Root (Tataki Gobo) is a popular dish appeared in Osechi, Japanese New Year Food, which is said to bring good luck.

    10. Chikuzenni (Simmered Chicken & Vegetables) 筑前煮

    A Japanese ceramic bowl containing simmered chicken and vegetables.

    Chikuzenni is a classic Japanese dish often served on New Year’s Day, but my mom makes it regularly because it was my family’s favorite Nimono (Japanese simmered dish). This is also a popular side dish for bento because it can be made in advance and still tastes great at room temperature. For New Year’s dish, the vegetables and konnyaku are cut into fancy shapes to celebrate the occasion.

    11. Instant Pot Nishime 煮しめ

    A blue Japanese bowl containing Nishime, simmered vegetables and chicken.

    Simmered in a savory dashi based sauce, Nishime is a classic one-pot vegetable stew to serve in Osechi Ryori for the Japanese New Year’s celebration. If you have a pressure cooker, follow my Instant Pot Nishime recipe to speed up the cooking process.

    12. Kamaboko Fish Cake with Salmon Roe 蒲鉾いくらのせ

    Salmon roe and shiso leaf stuffed inside the kamaboko fish cake.

    With its elegant presentation, Kamaboko Fish Cake with Salmon Roe makes an impressive addition to your Osechi Ryori. You’d be surprised how easy it is to make the recipe. Simply make small slits across the Kamaboko (fish cake), stuff in shiso leaf, and top with golden salmon roe.

    13. Simmered Shrimp (Ebi no Umani) えびのうま煮

    Simmered shrimp on the green plate.

    Simmered shrimp cooked in dashi soy sauce and soaked overnight, this beautiful dish adds bright color and delicious flavor to your Osechi Ryori.

    14. Salmon Kombu Roll 鮭の昆布巻き

    A blue Japanese plate containing salmon kombu rolls.

    Flavorful salmon rolled up in kombu and tied with kanpyo (gourd strips), Salmon Kombu Roll is a traditional Japanese dish for the New Year. Representing the secrets of perennial youth and long life, you may be tempted to devour more than one of these exquisite appetizers.

    15. Yellowtail Teriyaki ぶりの照り焼き

    Yellowtail teriyaki served with blistered shishito peppers.

    Yellowtail Teriyaki, or Buri no Teriyaki, is a classic fish dish in Japan. Simple and elegant with the perfect glaze of teriyaki sauce, this dish is a perfect main dish to enjoy on New Year’s Day.

    16. 7 Beautiful Designs to Cut Japanese Fish Cake (Kamaboko) かまぼこの飾り切り

    Decorative kamaboko fish cakes on a black and red lacquered board.

    Two Japanese fish cakes (Kamaboko), seven beautiful designs to cut Japanese fish cake! Make ordinary fish cake into decorative designs on this Oshogatu (Japanese New Year)!

    17. Kanto-style Ozoni (New Year’s Soup) 関東風お雑煮

    A black and gold lacquered bowl containing Japanese New Year Soup Ozoni.

    Ozoni (Japanese New Year Mochi Soup) is clear dashi based mochi soup with chicken and seasonal vegetables, which is enjoyed in the Kanto region (Eastern Japan). This comforting winter soup usually includes toasted mochi, chicken, and Japanese mustard spinach and served with varieties of Osechi Ryori.

    18. Kansai-style Ozoni (New Year’s Soup) 関西風お雑煮

    A black and gold lacquered bowl containing Japanese New Year Soup Ozoni.

    This Kansai-style Ozoni is a miso-based soup enjoyed in the morning on New Year’s Day. The soup includes mochi (rice cake), and the preparation varies by region and household. My recipe is an adaptation from my mom’s recipe where I include leafy green vegetables and yuzu peel.

    19. Homemade Fresh Mochi スタンドミキサーで作る餅の作り方

    Fresh homemade mochi made with a stand mixer.

    Make fresh homemade mochi using a stand mixer! Stuff the mochi with your favorite filling, dip in a savory or sweet coating, or enjoy in Japanese New Year Soup and red bean soup.

    20. Mochi (Japanese Rice Cakes) お餅各種

    A rectangular plate containing three flavors of mochi (sweet red bean, sweet soybean flour, and soy sauce and nori seaweed).

    From sweet to savory, there are various types of mochi (Japanese rice cake) we enjoy in Japan. For savory dishes, mochi is used as a topping for Ozoni, hot udon noodle soup, or inside Okonomiyaki. For sweet dishes, you will find Mochi Ice CreamZenzai (Oshiruko), Strawberry Daifuku and so on. So for Japanese New Year, you have the perfect excuse to enjoy them all.

    21. Sweet Red Bean Paste (Anko) 餡子

    Two bowls containing fine and chunky sweet red bean paste (anko).

    Red bean paste (or Anko in Japanese) is used as a filling in many delicious Japanese sweets and desserts. This Pressure Cooker Anko recipe is an easy way to prepare the sweet bean paste without much hassle. Once it’s cooked, you are set to make all sorts of mochi or Dorayaki and Taiyaki. Don’t have a pressure cooker? Here’s the traditional stovetop method.

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    How to Pack Osechi Ryori in 3-Tier Boxes

    The complete guide on how to pack Osechi Ryori in 3-tier boxes (jubako). With step-by-step pictures and helpful tips, you can easily prepare beautiful boxes of Osechi Ryori with confidence!

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    More Helpful Guides for Japanese New Year

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    Editor’s Note: Original post was published on Dec 27, 2015.  The content has been updated in December 2019.

     

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