Dried Japanese anchovies (カタクチイワシ / Katakuchi iwashi)
(Ones specifically for tazukuri 田作り)……30g
Peanuts (ピーナッツ / Pīnatsu)……30g
Sesame oil (ごま油 / Goma-abura)……1tsp
Sugar (砂糖 / Satō)……2tbsp
Soy sauce (しょうゆ / Shōyu)……1tsp
Water (水 / Mizu)……2tsp
Cayenne pepper (一味唐辛子 / Ichimitōhgarashi)……To taste
【How to Make】
① Add the sesame oil to a frying pan and place over medium heat. Fry the anchovies and peanuts. Use a wooden spatula to stir occasionally to prevent burning. Once you get a prominent savory aroma, transfer everything to a bowl.
② Place the hot frying pan on a damp towel to lower the temperature. Add the sugar, soy sauce, and water place it back over medium heat and evaporate off the water. Once the mixture thickens, add the anchovies and peanuts and mix.
③ Cover a plate with baking paper. Add the cayenne pepper to the mixture in the pan and then transfer everything to the plate with baking paper and let it cool.
④ Once the mixture cools, use your hands to break it up into pieces that are easy to eat.
【Significance as Osechi Ryori】
The dried Japanese anchovies referred to above are called “katakuchi iwashi” in Japanese. This term, though, can mean the fish in both fresh and dried forms. Dried, they are also referred to as “tazukuri” or “gomame” in Japanese. Tazukuri or gomame can also mean dishes like that described above, in which the dried fish are caramelized in a mixture that commonly consists of sugar, soy sauce, and mirin. Tazukuri, by the way, refers to the preparation of rice paddies for planting, in part by fertilizing with dried fish. The same fish came to be used in dishes like the one above, and the name stuck.
Tazukuri is an essential element of “osechi ryori,” or New Year holiday dishes. The use of dried fish establishes a deep connection to the planting of rice paddies and incorporates a wish for an abundant harvest.
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