Last week I asked: How can you save money on an air ticket to a foreign destination?
Fly out of JFK.
We found that taking the train to New York and then a cab to the JFK airport is a way to save on airfare.
Our round-trip ticket to SE Asia was $586.
The same trip departing from Syracuse costs between $1,000 and $1,500 per person.
The train and cab for the two of us costs about $350.
Besides the impressive savings we flew ANA (All Nippon Airways) which has more amenities than United – new planes with all the bells and whistles and great service.
We spent the night at the Crowne Plaza Narita Airport in Japan.
It was New Year’s Eve and I noticed on the flyer in our room that the hotel was offering several New Year’s events, one of which was an “osechi” breakfast.
According to Japanese tradition, nothing should be cooked on New Year’s Day.
Osechi is a variety of colorful dishes in a special bento-like box called “jubako” that is part of a traditional New Year’s morning meal along with ozoni.
The jubako (a box with single serving compartments) includes a variety of artistically prepared pieces of fish and vegetables.
Ozoni is a soup containing rice cake and vegetables – a traditional New Year’s dish that is said to provide strength and prosperity in the coming year.
All cultures have various symbols and activities that are to bring good luck.
In Japan, on the first day of the New Year a dream that includes Mount Fuji, a hawk, an eggplant, or all three means that one will have a prosperous and happy New Year.
On New Year’s Eve morning, the Japanese Chef Shimada Ikuhou said he would be making ozoni and invited us to watch him make it.
He said that in order to make ozoni it was necessary to first make dashi, a Japanese soup stock used in many recipes.
Dashi: Japanese soup stock
5 ½ quarts water
1 piece Konbu (dried seasoned kelp)
2 oz dried bonito shavings
1 pp prawn or large shrimp
1 tbs soy sauce (or to taste)
1 tbs Mirin (or to taste – mirin is a sweet rice wine used in Japanese cooking)
½ oz pp chicken
2 pp snow peas (cooked)
1 pp Kamaboko (pink and white) slice in 1/8 in strip of each color and tie in a knot
1 pp (per person) Mochi (rice cake) baked
1 pp carrot (rosette cut)
2 thin slices yuzu (citrus rind)
To make Dashi, place water in a stock pot, add konbu, bring to a boil, boil for five minutes.
Remove konbu and discard.
Add bonito, bring it to boil.
Boil for five minutes.
Drain, return to pot and allow to simmer.
It is dashi.
Put prawns in dashi broth cook three to five minutes until pink.
In a new pot, add one cup of dashi for each serving.
Add soy sauce and simmer for five minutes (season to taste).
Add mirin, bring to boil.
Add chicken, snow peas, kamaboko and carrots cook over medium heat until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.
To prepare mochi: Preheat oven.
Bake at 345 degrees for five minutes.
Put mochi under the broiler for 30 seconds.
Mochi should be soft with light brown top.
Presentation: Put one mochi in each serving bowl, arrange prawn, carrot, snow peas, chicken, and kamaboko artfully around mochi.
Cover with Dashi.
Garnish with citrus.
Travel Trivia Tease™: Where is Phu Quoc Island?
Look for the answer next week.
Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!