For the days proceeding January 1st, department stores stock their shelves and food stalls with Osechi ryori. Osechi ryori is the name for the traditional spread of food served on New Year. At home, housewives also prepare the food so that on the first days into the new year, they don’t have to cook or for that matter, do any housework at all.
Here is a list of menu items, normally packaged in a beautiful lacquered box of several layers:
Datemaki : sweetened egg omelette, made with fish paste.
Gomame or tazukuri: small dried sardines that are fried in a sweet sauce.
Kamaboko: fish cake that is coloured pink/red, white and sometimes green/blue. Red and white are traditional New Year’s colors.
Kazunoko: herring roe, that is not loose. The eggs are stuck together and have a delightful crunch. Before serving, they are marinated in a broth and sliced into bite sized pieces.
Kombumaki : kombu (seaweed) that has been stewed in a sweet sauce and is rolled and tied tightly with a gourd strip, known as “kampyo”. Sometimes, gomame or salmon are placed in the centre. they are bite sized.
Konnyaku (devil’s-tongue starch) and fu (wheat gluten) will also be sprinkled throughout the stacked boxes.
kurikinton: Sweet potatoes and chestnuts are the base of , which can look something like yellow mashed potatoes.
kuromame: stewed black beans, salted and sweetened.
namasu : daikon (Japanese radish) and carrots pickled in vinegar.
You will also find vegetables, such as stewed gobo (burdock root), sprinkled with sesame, stewed renkon (lotus root), stewed or pickled carrots, stewed shiitake and snow pea pods.
Seafood is also served, such as shrimp which represents long life and sea bream for auspicious fortune.