Hapanese New Year’s Noodles

Soup bowl with ham, collard greens, a soft-poached egg, and udon noodles in broth

You know, I’m pretty sure the only reason why people stayed up last night was to make sure that 2020 left. There were definitely some blessings (like the fact that I got to marry the love of my life!), but it’s been rough.

The hubs and I had a quiet night at home—the biggest event was honestly dinner. Here, I combined traditional New Year’s foods from both sides of my heritage to create Hapanese New Year’s Noodles.

What do these foods mean in their respective cultures? Let’s take a look:

  • Ham—this has a lot to do with the way a pig moves. Unlike some animals who push back, a pig buries his snout into the ground and pushes forward. In a New Year, we all want to move forward!
  • Collard greens symbolize money and prosperity. Some Southern superstitions suggest that hanging up a few pieces of these greens by your door can ward off evil spirits.
  • “Pot likker” (or “pot liquor,” to ease my spelling-fanatic mind) is the liquid leftover after simmering collard greens. This delicious stock makes a perfect base for a variety of soups, and some suggest that it even helps in the area of romance.
  • Noodles symbolize long life in a number of Asian cultures. Soba noodles are specifically used in toshikoshi soba, a traditional New Year’s soup with roots tracing back to the 13th century. Soba is fragile, and when those noodles break as you eat them, it symbolizes breaking off from the old year. (Just don’t eat them right at midnight!)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find soba in the grocery stores here. They did, however, have my favorite kind of noodle, udon. These are thick and chewy, and they’re a lot of fun to slurp! With this, I added in some miso and ginger to the broth (because it’s amazing), and I topped it with an egg poached in the broth. The end result was a rich, savory, satisfying meal that closed out this ridiculous year in the best way possible.

Hapanese New Year’s Noodles

8 oz fresh collard greens

48 oz reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/3 cup white miso

1 Tbsp fresh-grated ginger

1 clove of garlic, minced

10 oz soba or udon

4 oz sliced ham

3 eggs

Rinse the greens in cold water, remove the stems, and slice into 1-inch thick ribbons. Pour the chicken broth, miso, and ginger into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer before putting the greens in. Cover and simmer on low for 1-1 1/2 hours, depending on how chewy you like your greens.

While you’re waiting, cook the noodles according to directions. Drain, then place directly into the bowls.

When the greens are almost done simmering, put a sauté pan with some oil on medium heat. Put the garlic in, then use tongs to transfer the greens to the pan, and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Divide evenly among the bowls, then put the pan back on the heat and quickly heat the ham on both sides, just until fragrant.

Make sure the broth is at a simmer, then stir as you add in the eggs, one at a time. Keep the eggs in just until the whites are completely opaque, then carefully remove to the bowls. Pour the broth evenly into the bowls, and serve.

Makes 3 servings.


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