Stuffed With New Year’s Day Traditions

Some things never change — and shouldn’t. Take my family’s New Year’s Day tradition that stretches back to small-kid times.

First, we feast. Then we all go to the movies. Then we feast again.

In our family, New Year’s Day is mostly a Korean affair. We always have kalbi — rich and aromatic with garlic, sesame seeds and green onion. My mom likes to use the meatier, thick-cut short ribs, not the little thin ones favored by most Korean fast-food restaurants.

And, of course, there’s kimchi and homemade mandoo. For our lunchtime feast, the dumplings are fried. I love them dipped in kochujang, the spicy Korean red pepper paste thinned into sauce. For the after-the-movie meal we have mandoo in soup. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

The mandoo tradition is a little too labor-intensive for Mom nowadays so, thankfully, my sisters have taken up the slack. They spend an entire day mixing the meat and tofu, stuffing and then frying the dumplings.

Which is great, because although I love to cook, mandoo are not in my repertoire. I’m a bad Korean cook, I’m afraid. In fact, I recently tried making kalbi for the first time without bottled sauce. It was OK, but Mom’s is better. Mom’s is always better, even though she has no recipe, only her memory and years of experience.

Of course, like most households in Hawaii, our “traditions” are sort of kapakahi. In addition to the kalbi and kimchi, someone usually roasts a turkey. One sister makes a mean spicy ahi poke. An uncle makes potato salad. There’s always a pot of rice.

What I love about New Year’s traditions is that they’re true to our various cultures and yet open to everyone else’s. So I asked (on Facebook), “What do your families eat on New Year’s Day?”

I was delighted with your answers.

Rowena Manoa: Making laulaus on New Year’s Eve is our family’s (Manoas of Kailua) tradition. We gather all of the supplies needed and have a good time preparing with our keiki and kupuna.

Peter Chien: We call it 圍爐 (wei-lu) in Chinese. It means gathering around the hotpot. So it’s normal for family to get together for dinner on New Year’s Eve with Chinese-style hotpot and many New Year’s dishes that symbolize good for- tune for the new year.

Michael Greenough: We switch every other year between Cajun (beignets, crawfish- shrimp etouffée, gumbo, jambalaya, boudin, andouille sausage, red beans and rice) from my mother’s side of family recipes, and Hawaiian (poi, squid luau, kalua pork or turkey, lomi salmon, etc.) from my wife’s family recipes. Sometimes we do a mix of both.

Joan Husted: We always eat homemade potato soup, black-eyed peas and sandwiches while we watch football bowl games.

Mary Zanakis: Prime rib and champagne. Cheers!

Kelli Abe Trifanovitch: Ozoni (a special soup with mochi), mochi and kuromame.

Adrian Kamalii: Vinha d’alhos, sweet bread and day-old rice! I look forward to it every year.

Reid Matsumoto: Ozoni, sashimi, poke, fish roe and sake.

Kevin Grant: Champagne (which we consume throughout the day — Mimosas in the a.m. with an egg casserole) and Porterhouse steaks with all the usual stuff.

Jennifer Tashiro: First thing in the morning, it’s my mom’s ozoni. For New Year’s potluck lunch, I make sekihan. Azuki beans and mochi rice steamed together, topped with some gomashio (salted sesame seeds).

Phil Han: Kalbi.

Angela Keen Tabije: Tradition in my family is roast duck. It’s a special recipe that includes stuffing the duck with Granny Smith apples, rubbing the duck skin with paprika and scoring the skin so it’s crunchy and reeves the fat into the meat, so it’s moist. You do not eat the Granny Smith apples; it is just for flavor. Anyway, that’s what we do!

Paul H.W. Louie: We eat “Jai,” monk’s food, and “Jook,” rice soup!

Bob Loy: Black-eyed peas. For good luck.

Lee Gordon: Black-eyed peas and cornbread.

Erika Matich: Isn’t your birthday on Jan. 1? My mom’s is, too. You should eat lotsa cake.

Yes, Jan. 1 is my birthday. And Erika, happy birthday to your mom, and I do intend to eat lots of cake.

And then, Jan. 2, I diet.