Toshikoshi soba: Noodles for New Year’s

Every culture has its New Year’s Eve dishes that are traditional for bringing luck in the coming year: in my family it was mincemeat, in Italian culture it’s cotechino and lentils, and in Japanese culture it’s toshikoshi (“year-crossing”) soba noodles.

Although they have a special name, there is no specific recipe for toshikoshi soba; you can make them the same way you make soba noodles the rest of the year. What counts is the long noodles, which represent long life. It’s important not to bite them off in the middle when you eat them!

This year, I decided to observe the Japanese tradition (as well as the mincemeat tradition, for good measure). I even made a special trip into Toronto for kamaboko and mitsuba. Unfortunately, I promptly forgot both of them in the fridge at a friend’s house. I went ahead with the noodles anyway, though not until New Year’s Day, which is technically one day late. I cooked the noodles then chilled them in ice water to firm them up, mixed up a simple broth of dashi, soy sauce, salt and sugar, and garnished the whole thing with some green onion curls, red pickled ginger, a 13-minute onsen egg, some simmered king oyster mushrooms, and a small sprig of cilantro in place of the forgotten mitsuba.

What food do you eat at New Year’s to ensure a year of happiness?

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