Tazukuri is dried small sardines (Gomame) cooked in sugar and soy sauce. It is a part of Osechi Ryori, the traditional Japanese new year feast. There are a lot of kinds of dishes for Osechi Ryori, but Tazukuri is one of the big three celebration dishes, along with Kuromame (sweet black beans) and Kazunoko (herring roe).
Each part of Osechi Ryori has a meaning to it, and Tazukuri is no exception. Tazukuri, ‘making a rice field’ in translation, represents a hope for an abundant harvest for the next year. We use Gomame because little fish such as sardines and anchovies are used as fertilizer for a rice paddy.
Tazukuri is sweet and salty like many other Osechi Ryori so that it can last for at least the first 3 days of a new year. The sauce is made from sugar and soy sauce and is very sticky and syrupy, or even candy-like. When cooking the sauce, it should be loose and fluid. Don’t cook until it gets very thick. As the sauce cools, it becomes sticky, and it may become one big fish ball if the sauce is too thick.
Not too many of us are hoping for good rice harvest anymore, but we can hope for lots of tasty Japanese dishes next year!
- 30g Gomame (tiny dried sardines)
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
- Pan-fry Gomame at medium low heat for a couple of minutes, until the fish turn slightly brown. Spread on a plate and let them cool.
- In a frying pan, add sugar and soy sauce and cook at low heat until bubbles from the sauce become small but the texture is still very loose. Add Gomame and coat with the sauce.
- Immediately spread on a plate and cool.