Here is another recipe, Kobumaki, in which reconstituted, dried herring is wrapped up in kelp, tied with kanpyo gourd, and simmered & flavored. The dish has very humble look but the reason why it is included in the celebration meal is the use of kelp. It is play-on-the-words. “-kobu”, which is the part of the word, “kobumaki” means congratulatory. Hence eating herring (winter fish) stuffed kelp is a symbol of auspicious occasion. It assures us good fortune throughout the New Year. Since dried herring is not available in America, I substitute it with smoked fish.
To make this dish you need kombu, which is called ni-konbu. Unlike the regular kelp which you use in the preparation of Japanese stock, this type cooks quicker and tender. Dried herring is not available here in America so I substitute it with smoked trout. I also substitute kanpyo gourd with kitchen strings.
Two 15 inch long ni-konbu, soaked in rice vinegar added water for 25 minutes
1 package smoked trout (two fillets), soaked in cold water, soaked overnight
3 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons mirin
Drain and cut the kelp into 2-inch wide pieces crosswise. You will have about 14 cut pieces. Drain the fish and remove the skin. Cut each fish into equal seven pieces, 1-inch long. Wrap each fish and roll it into a piece of kelp (see the photos) and tie it with kitchen strings. Finish making all rolls. In a large pot place the rolls without overlapping each other. Add the water and sake, and bring it to a gentle simmer. Turn the heat to low and cook the rolls, covered with a drop lid, for 30 minutes. Remove the drop lid and add the sugar and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the drop lid and add the soy sauce and cook until the cooking liquid is almost cooked away. Add the mirin and cook for 1 more minutes. After the rolls are completely cool, remove the strings with a kitchen scissor.