年越しそば (Toshikoshi Soba)
As 2011 draws to a close, I am not thinking about the Mayans. Rather, I am trying to decide what I will be eating over the weekend. PRIORITIES, people!
I'll be working on Saturday evening (apocalypse be damned!), but I'll have all the accouterments ready to ring in the new year with Johnny and a bowl of toshikoshi soba as soon as I get home. With a bottle of bubbly of course!
Toshikoshi soba is always eaten on New Year's Eve in Japan. Toshikoshi roughly means, "to kill off the year", and so you can start the new year with a clean slate. "Why soba?", I asked my mother. Hideko thinks the soba represents living hosoku, nagaku (slenderly, long). She hung up on me before I could ask any more questions regarding this matter of living "slenderly".
I bought this fancy shin soba (new soba) in Nagano prefecture, when I was there in November. Nagano is well known for their soba. The notion of "new soba" is interesting -- essentially, it is soba made of newly harvested buckwheat. Shin soba is quite a specialty in Japan, as the Japanese love anything "new".
I figure December 31 will be a good time to break open the seal (erm, before it expires).
Yes, the strands of soba are slender and long.
It is a treat to have fresh soba, as I usually eat the hard stuff throughout the year. I'll be making Yoko's soba tsuyu (dipping sauce), and eating the soba cold. Traditionally, toshikoshi soba should be served warm, but I prefer mine cold. That's how Hideko usually served it, anyhow. Although zaru soba (cold soba) in the winter time is pretty blasphemous.
Photo by Yoko Kumano
Happy new year, Martians! Thanks for all your support in this last year. Umamimart will turn 5yo in 2012. Wow! I look forward to sharing more food adventures with you in the new year.
*Top photo by Yoko Kumano