oshogatsu 2.008

Another year, another shogatsu. I had a nice turn-out, a good mix of people – current coworkers, ex-coworkers, friends, Romans, countrymen…

I had decided early on to limit my Japanese foods to sure-fire hits, or ones that I personally love. Shopping at the Japanese market, a few last minute additions grabbed ahold of me – kamaboko and tamago-yaki.

The fish cakes are never a hit at these things, but I’ve always loved them. I have cherished memories of my mom slicing off the kamaboko from the wooden slab, then handing it to me to gnaw off the thin slice of fish cake that remained on the wood. I know this probably sounds bad but it was something that I fondly looked forward to. I think kamaboko is an acquired taste -something that one needs to grow up on eating to appreciate. I think I was the only person who touched the kamaboko tray all day.

Tamago yaki wasn’t something I was brought up on, but rather something that hit me on this last Christmas day. My sister got me Iron Chef Morimoto’s cookbook and the color photo of the rolled egg caught my eye and made me go, “Hmmm.” I bought the special tamago fry pan along with free range happy chicken eggs, and I was set. Although Chef’s recipe included pureed shrimp, I omitted that but otherwise followed his instructions on how to roll and layer the egg. I must say, though it is a bit time consuming to make, the dish turned out wonderfully and was a hit at shogatsu.

An early-on menu item was the not-so-Japanese Japanese inspired curried tofu, which made a delicious dip. Firm tofu, curry powder, chives, lemon juice, and a pinch of turmeric made this vegetarian dip mighty tasty. The turmeric with the tofu curds gave the dip a bit of an egg salad look, but it made for good dippin’ with the homemade pita chips. For the next time, I think I’ll add some crab into the mix.

While I’m sitting here typing these words, the dirty dishes and glasses are still piled up in my kitchen sink, the leftover kamaboko has been left out on the counter, the trash was bagged but needs to be put out, and the three big empty sake bottles need to be put in the recycling bin. I am just too tired to do any of it. Time to say good night, Gracie.

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