Izakaya!

Izakaya!

Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742700427
Photographer
Chris Chen

Walk beneath the paper lantern, pull back the half curtain and enter a world that suddenly feels like the real Japan. Waiters boisterously welcome you through the door and call out orders to the kitchen. People sit on tatami mats sipping glasses of beer or small cups of sake, chatting about work, family, life. It’s relaxed, welcoming and not bound by dizzying rules of etiquette.

This is the traditional izakaya – the Japanese tavern, where the alcohol flows but simple and delicious food is every bit as important. The food comes in small serves designed to nibble on and share. Created from the words ‘i’ (to sit or remain) and ‘sakaya’ (sake shop), izakayas originated as simple liquor stores that began to serve food to busy working men in the developing city of Edo, now Tokyo. In the last few decades, the izakaya has received a good dusting off, and while you can still find traditional izakayas not much bigger than a shoebox with a bar and wooden shelving to the ceiling, there are now many slick modern establishments and popular izakaya chains.

Classic izakaya dishes include sashimi, edamame (salted fresh soy beans), yakitori (grilled skewers) and agedashi tofu – a dish of deep-fried silken tofu served in a dashibased broth. Some izakayas specialise in one particular dish, such as tempura or grilled fish, and the specials board is always a guide to the best morsels on offer.

Many izakaya menus feature relaxed Japanese interpretations of Western dishes, such as korokke (croquettes) or potato salad in mayonnaise. Ingredients like cheese, butter and bacon sit comfortably alongside miso, soba noodles and nori as the foods that Japanese people love. This hybrid cuisine is so established in Japan that it has its own name – yoshoku – including anything from spaghetti to hambagu (yes, hamburger!).

Like Japanese food in general, this collection of classic izakaya recipes is guided by the principles of direct flavours, quality ingredients and pleasing presentation. You won’t need oodles of ingredients to cook these dishes, or a whole kitchen full of equipment and utensils. Just get out your wok, dust off your barbecue hotplate, arm yourself with some miso and sake, and discover the exciting world of izakaya-style cooking.

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