Celebrating Christmas, and New Year, this season in Japan is very busy and full of seasonal dishes. Especially for New Year, special dishes called “Osechi” are prepared, and people get to have dishes with strong flavours every day, which sometimes makes their stomach a bit tired of it.
In Japan, there is a custom to eat “Nanakusagayu” (rice porridge with seven vernal flowers) on January 7th. In old China, there was a custom to have a soup with 7 types of vegetables to pray for good health on that day. It was introduced to Japan and combined with the native culture, so it became popular to have rice porridge with seven vernal flowers in Edo period (1603-1868).
The common "seven vernal flowers” are: seri (Japanese parsley), nazuna (shepherd’s purse), gogyo (Jersey cudweed), hakobera (chickweed), hotoke-no-za (henbit), suzuna (turnip) and suzushiro (daikon, a variety of radish). Each herb has an effect, such as: promotion of appetite with its aromatic flavor, helping digestion and preventing colds, or they includes dietary fibers, and so on.
Nowadays, you can get a set of Nanakusa (Lit. seven herbs) in the supermarket, so you will be able to cook Nanakusagayu very easily. Its ingredients varies depending on the area or family, so Nanakusagayu is the reflection of family and local cultures.
The New Year dish -"Nanaksuagayu", made with a wish for a good health in the New Year, is such a friendly food for your stomach, and for your heart.
Jan. 5, 2018