This is part two of a 2-part series about izakayas. In part one (Japanese Gastropubs – The Izakaya) I shortly described what an izakaya is, what’s so special and interesting about it and shared my experiences at two izakayas that I visited earlier in 2016. In part two I will show you how to izakaya yourself. Or in other words: I welcome you to Stefan’s Izakaya! I will share recipes for four basic izakaya dishes with you.
I really love culinary topics! Going out for drinks, buying new whisky or gin; trying out new cuisines or restaurants in general, being fancy or casual – all is dear to my heart. What I probably love doing most is cooking. I have a longstanding relationship with the kitchen with decades of amateur chef experience.
As some I live in an area where culinary versatility isn’t where it could be, I often come back to those desires and start doing it myself. That’s what this article is really about. I don’t have many non-sushi Japanese cuisine options around, and certainly no izakaya. That’s why I did it myself.
Out of curiosity and the strong desire to see if I could, I worked on a few simple items that you can find in an izakaya too. So here we go I hope you enjoy your stay at Stefan’s zakaya!
Stefan’s Izakaya: Miso soup with Tofu
As I love soups, I had to have one in my izakaya. I did something very basic and simple. For many reasons. It’s convenient as I struggle with my “kitchen”. The place isn’t even a real kitchen to begin with and I don’t have much space. In my eyes, no matter how exquisite the food, Japanese cuisine remains something delicate with a lot of effort in it, while giving you the impression of being very simplistic and easy. Basically you often cannot imagine the effort behind the item.
My miso soup is based on a chicken broth, which I did myself from scratch. I added tofu and spring onions to enrich the dish while keeping it simple and light.
Stefan’s Izakaya: Chicken Skewers
I got some good looking chicken legs, which I de-boned. The bones served as the base ingredient for my miso soup.
There are three reasons why I used chicken legs for my menu:
- it’s cheaper
- it tastes better
- I could use the bones, fat and the skin for my broth
This way I enhanced the value of the dish for two items on the menu while working only with a little money. The money I saved, I spend on a different place. Of course, it’s another simple item on my menu. The complexity comes in (partially) the de-boning (if you’re not used to it) and the teriyaki sauce.
Stefan’s Izakaya: Bacon-wrapped Shimeji
When I was grocery shopping I found for the first time ever, without expecting it at all, white and brown shimeji. I immediately knew that I wanted to recreate the bacon-wrapped shimeji skewers I had in London. So I bought a packet of each and some bacon.
Once more a very simple item. The beauty of it – at least in my view – lies in the combination of bacon and shimeji. The mushroom is very delicate and needs to be treated gently. The fact that it’s wrapped with bacon, gives the shimeji moisture and plenty of taste while preserving it mostly from direct heat. This keeps the shimeji intact and you the chance to a great tasting mushroom.
Life can really be exciting when you walk around with your eyes, your mind and your heart open!
Stefan’s Izakaya: Okonomiyaki “Stefan Style”
Okonomiyaki! What can I say, I fell in love with pancakes and liked eggs since I can remember. Mixing both items seems natural to me. That’s why I had to put it on my menu (and because four items are better than 3! More food!).
My okonomiyaki is not a traditional version, but my adaptation of it. I didn’t have any okonomiyaki flour nor any cabbage, wich are both part of a traditional styled okonomiyaki.
That aside, my ingredients are very simple and basic too. The fancy part comes mainly with the toppings. here you can be as creative as you wish, but make sure to add some mayonnaise and another sauce on top. I picked tonkatsu sauce and a spicy mayonnaise-mustard sauce for mine.
I really hope you enjoyed this recipe and I would love to hear your thoughts about it. Try it out and let me know in the comment section how much you liked it. I’d love to get your feedback!