Are you familiar with the Japanese star festival Tanabata?
When star crossed lovers only get to meet once a year, it is cause for great celebration. Celebrating a love so strong that it can continue to be bound with a simple yearly rendezvous. July 7th is the yearly meeting of stars, Altair and Vega, during the Japanese star festival Tanabata.
One commonly found lore behind the star-crossed lovers paints a colorful yet sad depiction between a princess and a commoner. The princess who happened to also be a seamstress grew sad that she may never find someone to love so her father who was a god arranged it so that the princess could meet a cow herder, the two ended up meeting and falling so deeply in love that they both stopped paying attention to their work causing the princesses father to get upset and forbid the two to be together.
The princess pleaded with her father who eventually gave in and told her that if they returned to their work, they could meet once a year. The seventh day of the seventh month. You would think this would allow for a somewhat happy ending for the Tanabata Japanese star festival, but there is still more possible heartbreak.
The stars must cross the river of the milky way to meet each other, and because the river is too difficult to cross, magpies were rumored to have made a bridge for the princess. Sadly though, if it rains during the Tanabata the magpies do not come to help and the star-crossed lovers must wait an entire year once again.
This is why it is so important that we celebrate the love of these two with everything we have, and I am here to tell you about two of the most popular foods eaten during the Tanabata Japanese star festival the best part is that these are all easy enough to make in the comfort of your home!
Yakisoba – Vegetarian-Friendly Tanabata Choice
There are so many ways that you can make this dish, you can even buy dehydrated instant versions of it in containers that you only need to add a little bit of water. My favorite recipe comes from Japan Centre and utilizes pre-cooked Yakisoba noodles (this is just a wheat noodle, so you can typically use any noodles out of a ramen noodle package if you’re in a time pinch).
This recipe calls for pork but you can still substitute for any other protein that you prefer (or you can omit meat and mayo if you wish). I typically do not use powdered seaweed and instead julienne roasted seaweed to garnish it. Noodles are the perfect way to pay homage and to wish longevity in the lover’s hearts for the Tanabata Japanese star festival.
Yakitori – Highly versatile and customizable
Food Network’s Robert Irvine provides us with a delectable recipe for yakitori and his recipe utilizes scallions, yum! His recipe does utilize sake but if you can’t find sake in your area you can always substitute sake for cooking mirin.
Mirin is a bit sweeter than sake so you may want to taste as you go to ensure you don’t make your yakitori too sweet. If in the off chance you cannot find cooking mirin either, you can still substitute for sherry.
Yakitori is highly customizable to many diets such as paleo, keto, and gluten-free so it may be a more versatile choice than the yakisoba. You may find that this dish isn’t just ideal for the Tanabata star festival but a great snack for parties and get-togethers.
After a nice Tanabata meal, you can choose to wash it down with one of these ice cream beverages while celebrating national ice cream month at the same time! One of these sparklers may pair well with the yakitori also!
Don’t forget to celebrate the meeting of these star crossed lovers during the Tanabata star festival! Comment below what foods you plan to make even if it isn’t one of the above choices, and don’t forget to write your wishes down even if you aren’t able to hang them.