The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook: 120 Classic Bar Bites from Japan, written by Wataru Yokota, features a delicious assortment of recipes perfect for pairing with drinks in the comfort of your own home! Highlights include Miso Marinated Egg Yolks with Cucumber, Negima (Chicken and Leek Skewers), Crispy Noodle-Wrapped Fried Shrimp, and Sea Urchin Spaghetti Carbonara. Following the review, I will also be sharing Wataru’s recipe for Honey Sesame Chicken Wings.
Disclosure: I received this book from Tuttle Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Wataru Yokota grew up in the Okayama Prefecture in Japan. He currently works as a restaurant consultant, private chef for special events, and cookbook author.
The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook
Originally called Danshi Chubo Izakaya Ryori and translated into English by Makiko Itoh, The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook focuses on traditional and modern otsumami (small plates of food) that are designed for pairing with drinks, tapas-style.
Before getting to the recipes, Yokota goes through the basics with step-by-step instructions/photos of helpful techniques such as slicing vegetables, making dashi stock from scratch, cleaning and preparing seafood (including a whole fish), and a guide to essential ingredients.
For those new to Japanese Sake, you will even find a small introduction to the four main varieties and how to serve them.
Chapters are divided according to cooking style: Snacks and Starters; Grilled, Roasted, Baked, Sautéed; Deep-Fried; Simmered, Steamed and Smoked; and The Final Course: Rice, Noodles and Bread. The contents also list the individual recipes with page numbers for easy reference.
Every single recipe is accompanied by a photo of the finished dish, usually 1/4 to full page, and often a process shot or two. The basic techniques guides and many of the dishes have step-by-step photos to help along the way.
Titles are only written in English. Measurements are listed in US Customary with the Metric weights provided as well. Each recipe has a short headnote with descriptions, tips, serving size, and notable ingredients.
Honey Sesame Chicken Wings
These Honey Sesame Chicken Wings are a Nagoya specialty. Chicken wingettes are seasoned and coated in cornstarch, fried until golden, then tossed in a sweet-savory sauce and covered with sesame seeds. They were a big hit for us and definitely perfect for pairing with beer.
Before coating the wings, Yokota recommends cutting along the bone of each piece to help the meat fry evenly.
Mirin is a sweet Japanese cooking rice wine. I use hon-mirin (true mirin) in recipes calling for mirin and have been able to find it in Asian food markets and Whole Foods. Many grocery stores have aji-mirin, but be sure to check the ingredient list for additives. Other types of mirin are shio-mirin (includes salt) and shin-mirin (very little alcohol).
I also made Izakaya Potato Salad, Camembert Skewers, Ramen with Spicy Ground Pork Dipping Sauce, and Soy Sauce Bruschetta.
Yokota’s version of the classic Izakaya Potato Salad includes a mixture of potatoes, ham, cucumber, and onion coated in mayonnaise. This simple dish comes together easily, but is packed with flavor.
The Camembert Skewers in the Deep-Fried chapter were quite the addictive treat. Wedges of Camembert cheese are skewered and coated in a breadcrumb mixture before deep-frying. The rind and breadcrumb coating hold in the delicious, melted cheese.
I especially loved the Ramen with Spicy Ground Pork Dipping Sauce. Fresh Chinese noodles are topped with hard-boiled eggs, blanched bean sprouts, and green onions. The addition of doubanjiang (tobanjan, chili bean sauce) gives the pork dipping sauce a spicy kick.
The Soy Sauce Bruschetta was the easiest recipe of all! A baguette is sliced, baked until dried, then brushed with soy sauce and sprinkled with sugar before baking until golden.
The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook is a great pick for those interested in Japanese cuisine and tapas-style eats. You will find classic recipes along with exciting new twists on old favorites. Most are designed to come together easily with serving size ranging from 1-4 people.
Some ingredients may require a trip to a Japanese market such as mirin, sake, pork belly, umeboshi, Shio koji, yuzu, shiso leaves, Chinese yam, silken tofu, nori seaweed paste, Japanese cucumber, Japanese eggplants, mizuna, lotus root, konnyaku, somen noodles, shishito peppers, aonori seaweed powder, yamatoimo, natto, shichimi togarashi, and negi.
Honey Sesame Chicken Wings Recipe
Excerpt from The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook
Honey Sesame Chicken Wings
- 8 chicken wingettes the middle joint of the chicken wing
- 1/3 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Oil for deep-frying
- 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
For the sauce:
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 1/2 tablespoons mirin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sake
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- Combine the sauce ingredients in a pan and stir well. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.
- Make an incision in each chicken wingette along the bone with a sharp knife. Sprinkle with the salt, then coat with the cornstarch. Shake off any excess.
- Heat the oil to 355˚F (180˚C). Add the prepared chicken wingettes and deep-fry for about 7 minutes, turning occasionally. When the wingettes are browned and crispy, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
- Place the chicken in a bowl, add the sauce from step 1 and the sesame seeds and mix well to coat. Arrange on a serving plate.