Three Festive Dishes To Spice Up New Year’s Holidays

Three festive dishes to spice up New Year’s holidaysAyao Okumura is renowned for cooking traditional Japanese recipes with a contemporary twist.
For the holiday season, the 78-year-old offers three tasty creations: “kazunoko” (herring roe); “gomame” (dried anchovy); and “kuromame” (black soybeans).

Herring roe is served like a salad with apples, while dried anchovy is dehydrated not in a pot, but in a microwave. The black soybean dish that usually requires time and care has been simplified to simmering store-bought steamed black soybeans in a marinade. Steamed black soybeans can also be purchased by mail order.

After removing salt from the salted herring roe, it is steeped in soy sauce and a sweet mirin-sake-based marinade. The same marinade is used to steep the black soybeans. Unlike the usual sweet black soybeans, this version draws out the flavor of the beans more.

Pour seven tablespoons of the liquid in a pot, add about half a cup (70 grams) of steamed black soybeans and three grams of fine strips of ginger and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat. Move the beans to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap so it sticks to the surface of the beans and leave for about three hours.

To garnish the beans, thaw eight frozen shrimp, cut off the tip of the tail, pat dry and deep-fry for about a minute in oil heated to 180 degrees. Remove the shell and steep for about an hour in seven tablespoons of the liquid with a bit of yuzu zest and “ichimi togarashi” (chili powder). The liquid used to soak the herring roe may be recycled.

Okumura tries not to waste ingredients and seasonings. When he began working at Masaru Doi’s cooking school, Doi saw the head, bones of a fish and bits of meat clinging to them that Okumura had thrown away and asked, “Could you find a use for them?” This opened Okumura’s eyes.

The next day, instead of throwing them away, he cooked the fish head and bones to gather the clinging meat and turned it into dried fish “rousing” (floss). After tasting the rousing, Doi said, “It was good. Write down the recipe.”

Ever since, Okumura has cooked vegetable peel into “kinpira” and turned dried bonito shavings used to make stock into a rice topping.

The sauce used to soak herring roe can be used to pickle strips of carrot and celery that will make a fine dish to go with sake.

“Make another dish from ingredients about to be thrown away,” is Okumura’s favorite phrase.


For herring roe and apple canape (amount easy to make):

6 salted herring roe

1/2 apple

For dried anchovy with honey-lemon flavor (amount easy to make):

50 grams small dried anchovy (katakuchi iwashi)

20 grams peanuts


To make canape, immerse roe in lukewarm water. Change water occasionally until roe loses saltiness. It usually takes about half a day. Remove thin film and fiber from surface. Cut into three pieces.

To make marinade liquid, place 3 grams of dried bonito shavings placed in special “dashi bag,” 1/2 cup water, 2 Tbsp each of soy sauce and sweet mirin sake, 1 Tbsp sake and bring to a boil. Run through sieve. Immerse roe in 7 Tbsp liquid overnight. Cut apple into quadrants right before serving. Mix with drained roe and mayonnaise and place on crackers.

To make dried anchovy dish, spread fish on heat-proof dish and microwave for 2 minutes at 600 W. Mix midway to prevent burning.

Place 3 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp each of soy sauce and sake, 1/2 tsp lemon juice and bit of chili powder in pot and boil over medium heat for nearly 1 minute. Add anchovy, mix and turn off heat. Spread on plate coated with oil and cool. Mix with finely chopped peanuts. Roast almonds may be used instead.