Getting Ready for New Year’s
What to Put in the Boxes
New Year’s Day may well be THE holiday in Japan. Almost everything is closed, while people make visits to shrines, pay visas to friends and relatives, drink sake, and eat, of course. But in traditional Japan. not much was cooked on the first day or so of the New Year. Instead, it has been traditional to eat meals packed in Bento lunch boxes, sometimes quite elaborate, and usually multitiered.
Grilled Mushrooms are one of the foods that end up in such Bento boxes. Of course, there is no rules that says you cannot make them at other times, as well. The preparation is pretty simple:
12 dried Shiitake Mushrooms 椎茸
½ cup Dashi Stock
2 tablespoons Sugar
4 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Mirin sweet cooking sake
1 tablespoon Sake
First soak the dried Shiitake Mushrooms in water for about 15 minutes to soften them. Then remove the stems and boil the Mushroom caps in the Dashi Stock for 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the Sugar,stir, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Then add the Soy Sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes, then combine the Sake and Mirin and add to the mushrooms. Simmer this gently until the pan juices are reduced to Ma thick, syrupy consistency. The Mushrooms should be nicely glazed and glistening on top. They will be tender, and the Soy-Sugar-Wine mixture combine to enhance the natural flavor of the Mushrooms.
And there you have it! These can be made well in advance, like most of the New Year dishes.