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Regional Recipe – Toshikoshi Soba, a Japanese New Year tradition

Toshikoshi soba
Regional Recipe – Toshikoshi Soba, a Japanese New Year tradition

Toshikoshi soba is the traditional last meal of the year in Japan. Soba noodles are served in warm broth with sliced green onions and seaweed. Toshikoshi means “to kill off the year” and the long noodles symbolize longevity.
After the meal, families venture out to hear Buddhist temple bells ring 108 times at midnight. Buddhists believe that man has 108 temptations to overcome before reaching nirvana. It’s thought that ringing the bells at the start of the New Year will help free our souls of these temptations in the coming year. It’s a purification or cleansing, of sorts. 

Ingredients:
6 cups water
1 large piece of dried kombu
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
10.5 oz soba noodles
¾ cup soy sauce
½ cup mirin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
2 green onions, sliced (optional)

Directions:
The night before, place the water, kombu and shiitakes in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to prepare the soup.
1. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the soba noodles. Cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain and rinse well under cold water, rubbing them gently to remove the starch. Drain again and set aside.
2. Remove the kombu and shiitakes from the water and bring the stock to a simmer. Add the soy sauce, mirin and sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar. Divide the soba into four bowls and ladle over the hot broth. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions if desired.

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