My family has a few traditions that we keep up pretty well. Some are new and just between J and myself, like having macaroni and cheese on my birthday, or pumpkin soup and Yorkshire pudding on Halloween. But the oldest and most sacrosanct tradition is the Good Luck noodle bowl on New Year’s Eve. There may have been a year when I have not eaten these noodles, but I’m not sure…even when I’ve spent the holiday with friends I’ve insisted that this dish get eaten. I just feel funny without it.
According to my father, our family has been eating noodles on New Year’s Eve since about 1950, when my grandparents became good friends with a Japanese family. The Fujitas introduced them to the idea that eating noodles with chicken, eggs, broth and scallions at the beginning of a new year brought good luck and health. When I was a kid, we always ate the noodles directly after midnight, after setting off fireworks in the snow and attempting to play each others’ instruments, loudly. These days, we tend to eat earlier in the evening and save some champagne for the midnight toast. It hasn’t seemed to hurt anything (knock on wood). J and I have also started buying a package of Chinese barbecued pork from the local deli counter and slivering it into the noodles, as being a little more festive than shredded chicken. And we sometimes use Japanese udon instead of the traditional Rose brand Chinese egg noodles (gasp!). But fortunately, it’s good no matter what.
This year’s version: homemade chicken broth, barbecued pork, scallions, hard boiled eggs, tamari, Sriracha sauce and the udon noodles with the happy looking people on the wrapper (no idea of the brand, all the packaging’s in Japanese). To make, boil the noodles until soft and slithery, top with chopped eggs, scallions and pork, pour boiling hot broth over the top and season to taste. Eat with chopsticks and finish by drinking the broth directly from the bowl. Slurping is encouraged.
And in case you were wondering what else we had for New Year’s Eve…J went out to the Taylor Shellfish Farm off of Chuckanut Drive and got us a dozen oysters – 6 Olympias, 6 Kumamotos. They were great. We washed them down with a Spanish cava, and followed up with my other annual tradition: Ruffles potato chips with Lipton Onion Soup-sour cream dip. Pathetic? Maybe. But darned tasty.