Arrangement and Presentation
The traditional method for presenting and storing osechi ryori is the jubako, a lacquered box with a top lid, which may have four to five tiers, though nowadays two to three is more common. The boxes, chock-a-block with beautifully arranged goodies, are presented stacked, then one by one the tiers are placed on the table, revealing the treasures inside. After mealtimes (osechi ryori is traditionally eaten for several days during the New Year's holiday), all the tiers are neatly stacked together and the lid replaced until the next meal! The stacking of the layers, "kasaneru" also embodies the meaning of layering or stacking happiness upon happiness, a thought surely not far from your mind as you are enjoying your meal!
Generally, the top tier, ichi-no-ju, contains appetizers; the second tier from the top, ni-no-ju, holds vinegared dishes, roasted or grilled items, and skewers of meat and fish; the third, san-no-ju, contains braised or stewed food. But there are as many varieties of dishes, ways of arranging and ways of presenting as there are prefectures in Japan! And each household has their own special style as well, meaning that there are no hard and fast rules that must be obeyed. Feel free to arrange things as you wish—with or without a jubako!
Here are a few examples of how you might want to display your own version of New Year's osechi ryori!
Japanese Style Platter Arrangement
Seven dishes (perhaps representative of the seven deities called Seven Gods of Fortune or Shichi Fukujin that come down from mountain peaks every New Year's holiday?) made up of kohaku kamaboko, datemaki, kuromame, nishiki tamago, kuri kinton, konbu maki, and tazukuri (small anchovies coated with a sweet caramelized soy sauce) are artfully arranged on a Japanese style lacquered platter lined with decorative leaves. Using small dishes or sake cups for the kuromame and kuri kinton makes it easy to nestle them neatly among the other items. Putting Japanese paper or colored folding paper under the dishes also brings a festive tone to the platter. Remember not to cram everything all together; leaving some space between the items helps the food to set off the platter, and vice-versa!
Western Style Platter Arrangement
In the center is a clear glass or crystal container holding the kuromame, and the seven dishes mentioned in the Japanese Style Platter Arrangement are arranged around that, taking care not to have similar colors next to each other for optimal visual enjoyment. Use some herbs or leafy greens to separate sections for a fresh and modern finishing touch. How about decoratively piping the mashed portion of the kuri kinton so it looks like the famous Mont Blanc or its namesake pastry?
Individual Serving Plates
Using individual plates with marked divisions, carefully think of the color scheme and attractively plate single portions of kamaboko, datemaki, kuri kinton, kuromame and tazukuri. Make sure that the portions are not too close to each others so the individual flavors don't run together. Don't the skewered kuromame on the pine needles decorated with some kuri kinton look adorable? Even using your everyday dishes, by artistically placing a bit of this and a bit of that, you'll see how festive looking your table will be!
Whether you chose to enjoy osechi ryori in the traditional jubako, family style platters or individual plates, Marukai has all the ingredients and accoutrements you'll need, including delectable ready-made dishes, mochi, sake, special celebratory chopsticks, otoshidama gift envelopes, and more! Traditional or contemporary, elaborate or casual, osechi ryori is always delightful and delicious with friends and family!