Between Christmas and New Year are the most festive days of the year. It’s the time where everyone’s home and excited to get together. Our plates are overfilled with turkey, hams, pies, and the list goes on! The amount of calories and carbs can induce a heart attack! Holidays are a time of overindulgence. Food is always a part of the celebration, so it can be impolite to refuse. However, you can make room for healthier choices — such as Japanese Holiday Food.
Japanese Holiday Food: Traditional and Natural Meals for the New Year
Japanese food is a cuisine. Meat is served with plenty of fruits and vegetables — creating a richer and more colorful palate. Fresh ingredients retain more flavor and make the meal a lot more enjoyable.
Japanese cuisine is usually cooked in low heat, preserving natural flavors.
7 Japanese Holiday Food to Try this New Year
Tonkatsu is a popular Japanese dish that’s fun to eat with chopsticks for pork lovers out there. It’s made of thinly sliced pork, fried with minimal oil, and coated with Tonkatsu sauce.
It’s typically served on top of Japanese rice or noodles, with lettuce as the other side dish.
Brown rice and buttered veggies are alternative side dishes.
“Yakitori” means to grill or cook over coal. It is a Japanese-styled grilled chicken roasted alongside vegetables.
Yakitori is colorful and versatile. Traditionally, chicken is skewered in bamboo alongside various vegetables and spices and cooked over fire. But nowadays, it can be made pan-fried.
This simple dish is perfect for new year gatherings, and it’s convenient to make at home too. All you need is some chicken breast fillets, bamboo skewers, and your choice of marinade. Choose between soy-based glaze or teriyaki sauce.
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (can also use breast meat)
- Sake or dry white wine
- Mirin sweet cooking sake (or substitute with honey)
- Soy sauce
- Garlic cloves (optional)
- Ground black pepper (optional)
- To make yakitori, start by cutting the boneless chicken thighs into one-inch cubes. Then, marinate them in a mix of sake or white wine and mirin sweet cooking sake.
- Next, add soy sauce and garlic cloves. And finally, top off the marinade with ground black pepper before placing it onto skewers.
- Yakitori is best cooked in open flame grill. Soak the skewers in water for 10 minutes to prevent them from burning.
- Use a fork or tongs to turn over yakitori while cooking.
- Yakitori is ready once the meat turns golden brown.
Gyudon is one of Japan’s national dishes that is well-loved in other countries. The beef bowl combines juicy beef with rice, onions, and a raw egg. Then add green onion or sweetened soy sauce as toppings for flavor! Gyudon is served as rice or noodles topping.
- Rice (cooked)
- Beef (thinly sliced)
- Onion (thinly sliced)
- Ginger sauce or soy sauce for flavor enhancement purposes if desired.
- Green onion
- Sesame oil
- Add some oil to a large frying pan and cook the thinly sliced beef over medium heat.
- Add in onions to caramelize with soy sauce and salt before adding rice into the pan.
- Finally, thoroughly stir together everything that is already cooking in your pot.
- Serve Gyudon on top of a bowl of rice along with other toppings such as pickled ginger and green onion.
Ramen is the most popular food in East Asian countries. It consists of wheat flour noodles served in soup and often includes meat and vegetables.
There are many ways to cook Ramen, but common ramen ingredients include soy sauce, salt, egg, and spinach. Ramen usually includes meat broth and meat, but alternatives include seafood ramen, veggie ramen, and chicken ramen.
Ramen is featured in Japanese pop culture and has gained recognition worldwide.
Sushi is a beautiful way to eat. The Japanese cuisine consists of sushi rice with raw fish, vegetables, and sushi vinegar.
Sushi may be served in rolls or as individual pieces — playing with various textures and flavors, which adds fascination to the dish.
The dish is an excellent source of protein and omega fatty acids, promoting heart health. It’s easy to digest and low in calories.
Alternatively, sushi can be made with other seafood, including crabmeat, tuna, salmon, and shrimp. It can also include vegetables like avocado or cucumber. Some people favor brown rice over sushi rice.
Matcha is a popular new Japanese drink and a cafe and smoothie bar bestseller. Matcha boasts many health benefits, including increased energy levels, better focus, reduced appetite and cravings, healthier skin and hair, and weight loss support.
Matcha can be served hot or cold, and just like hot cocoa, it’s a comforting drink to share with family on a cold Christmas night. Banana Matcha smoothie is a popular meal replacement drink.
Mochi is traditionally used to celebrate the New Year in Japan. It’s made of glutinous rice cake filled with sweets. It comes in fluffy circles of various rainbow pastel colors — appealing to the eye and tempting to bite. It can be wrapped around ice cream to make mochi-cones.
Mochi comes in different flavors like chestnut, strawberry, or black sesame. Matcha Mochi is popular nowadays.