In its heyday as a passenger and mail ship liner in the 1920’s and 1930’s, guests aboard the S.S. Hakusan Maru of the Japanese NYK (Nippon Yusen Kaisha) Line were likely as ignorant of the vessel’s history as they had to be of its future role and tragic end. The vessel had been built in 1923 for the NYL Line, and regularly plied the route between Yokohama and England until she was requisitioned as a troop ship by the Imperial Army at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The ship was sunk on June 4, 1944 several hundred miles from the Bonin Islands, by a torpedo fired by a US submarine (USS Flier: SS-250.)
On December 28, 1934, the ship had left Gravesend in the River Thames estuary, on its regular return trip to Yokohama via the Suez Canal and Singapore. On the morning of January 17, 1935 second class passengers sat down to a very Western breakfast menu:
S.S. “HAKUSAN MARU”
Corn-flakes & Force with Milk
Fish Cake Anchovy Sauce
Frittered Calf’s Brain
Meat Curry and Rice
Potatoes: Boiled & Cream
(To order from the Grill 10 minutes)
Rump of Beef Steak Horseradish Sauce
Grilled American Bacon
Omelet: Plain and Tomato
Jam and Marmalade
Teas:- Green, Chinese, & Liptons
Costa Rica Coffee
~ COLD BUFFET ~
Roast Ribs of Beef Spiced Brawn
Thursday, 17th, January, 1935.
The only indication of any connection with Japan was the inclusion in the menu (as an ‘extra’) of the dish called ozōni - a soup containing rice cakes which is traditionally eaten at New Year.
I had hoped to find an early twentieth century recipe for ozōni in the Chinese-Japanese Cook Book, by Sara Bosse and Onoto Watanna [pseud.] published in Chicago in about 1914. Alas, it was not to be. It does however have the following, which will stand in its stead as the recipe for the day:-
UWO SHIRU (Fish Soup)
One and one half pounds of fish (any kind); one quarter pound of fat pork; one pound of miso paste (bean and rice paste); one half cupful of syou [soy] sauce; one cupful of cooking juice sauce; one small carrot; two onions; three hard-boiled eggs; two tablespoonfuls of cooked, chopped ham; pepper, salt, sugar, and spices.
To make this soup, any fish of the milder variety can be used, such as cod, haddock, or bass; lobster and shrimps are also good cooked this way. Have the pork cut into small pieces, and fry a golden brown; then wash the fish and take out all bones, chop up into small pieces, add to the pork, and fry for a few minutes. Have ready all the vegetables, cleaned and grated, and put into the pot with the syou and cooking juice, salt, pepper, and spices. Let it come to a boil, then add the miso paste, mixed with a pint and a half of boiling water. Stir all well together, and boil for one hour, adding boiling water if it cooks away. Strain into soup bowls, and serve with slices of hard-boiled eggs, sprinkled with chopped parsley and grated ham.