Around the World in 12 Plates: Japan was one I was looking forward to a lot. The flavours of Asia are becoming my favourite profile, so this month I wanted to do something typically Japanese, but lesser known in North America. Sushi and ramen were out, so an izakaya-style dinner was the perfect way to spend an evening. While I haven’t visited Japan, I’ve eaten at several izakayas in Toronto and had a blast! Izakayas represent a more casual dining experience, serving up small plates similar to the Spanish-style tapas. Izakaya translates to “stay-in liquor shop” so these Japanese pubs have loud crowds, plentiful beer and sake, and food that is salty and greasy.
Around the World in 12 Plates: Japan
I invited my sister Maggie and her boyfriend Sean to come over for an evening of izakaya fun, and we prepared five dishes. Of course there was lots of Sapporo going around too:
Edamame in the shell is a typical snack food in many establishments, but I had trouble finding them in the grocery store, so I settled for shelled. I simply cooked the frozen veg as per the packaging instructions and tossed them in sesame oil and lots (and lots) of Maldon salt. We snacked on these during meal prep and throughout the meal.
Popularly known as JFC or Japanese Fried Chicken, karaage chicken is a widely popular dish in izakayas. Karaage is actually a cooking technique, which means “Chinese fried,” and has a batter flavoured with ginger and garlic. We used the recipe for karaage from Just One Cookbook which is full of delicious Japanese recipes. The skinless, boneless thighs are marinated for an hour and double deep fried, making for juicy and crispy chicken. I actually cannot believe I made fried chicken this good at home. This is dangerous knowledge to have — I’ll probably make it every weekend now.
Okonomiyaki translates to “as you like it” meaning these cabbage pancakes are a wild card in Japanese cuisine. You can choose the fillings and the toppings you prefer, but we went with the recipe for okonomiyaki on Budget Bytes. Basically, the pancake batter is seasoned with soy and garlic, and fried up with shredded cabbage and carrot. Simple and shockingly delicious. There were more than a dozen pancakes and we ate them all without a blink.
Tsukune are chicken meatballs served yakitori style, meaning they are coasted in sweet yakitori tare sauce. Adam grilled them up on the BBQ so they blackened up nicely. This tsukune is another recipe from Just One Cookbook because I just love this website. These little nuggets of deliciousness reminded me a lot of the pork patties we made in the bun cha for Around the World in 12 Plates: Vietnam and were equally inhaled by our hungry cooks.
Asian Cucumber Salad
This is a riff on a namasu-style cucumber salad and it’s not really Japanese, but I wanted to include greens. Because healthy is good, I guess. This recipe is from Joyful Healthy Eats and while this salad was more than palatable, it was the only dish that had leftovers. Salad just can’t beat fried chicken, no matter how good it is.
Around the World in 12 Plates: Japan’s challengers
Here are the other awesome bloggers pumping out delicious Japanese food this month!
Sugar Loves Spices: http://www.sugarlovespices.com/raw-vegetable-nori-wraps/