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Culture The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook

Reviews summary

Overall rating
5.00 star(s) 1 ratings
  • Practical, attractive, straightforward, recipes with range of difficulties
  • No major cons
Izakayas (Japanese pubs/bars) need to be able to provide a wide variety of dishes, from signature dishes that may take a lot of preparation to simple and tasty snacks that can be whipped up in a couple of minutes while chatting to customers. This book contains 120 recipes that cover the dishes found at an izakaya that do indeed vary from easy (cucumbers with sweet miso) to quite ambitious (there's a short section on smoking meat and seafood).

An introduction contains a description of the key ingredients, where to get them and some basic techniques such as making dashi stock and cutting onions (though I doubt that most non-Japanese readers would consider 'how to clean and prepare a whole squid' a basic technique!). This is followed by chapters on starters and snacks; grilled, roasted, baked and sauteed; deep-fried; simmered, steamed and smoked; and finally the carbohydrate course - rice, noodles and bread - the same order that Japanese people traditionally eat at an izakaya.

The book gives straightforward instructions with practical hints, such as alternatives given for ingredients that may be more difficult to source - this is a book that has been written to be used, not to be left on a coffee table. Accordingly, the photos are attractive and instructive, with none of the ultraclose shots beloved of 'food porn'.

To test out the recipes, I followed six of the more straightforward ones from the starters and snacks chapter (see photo). They all turned out well, with my wife pleasantly surprised to come home and find six dishes on the table, though the quantities seemed a bit off in one of the recipes.

A glossary of the main ingredients in English, romanji and Japanese may have been useful, and the book was a little heavy on meat for this non-meat-eating reviewer, but aside from these minor quibbles, I recommend this book, particularly for non-Japanese people wishing to extend the range of their cooking.
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