Izakaya Cookbooks

1. Izakaya; The Japanese pub cookbook by Mark Robinson (In English).

I think this is the only Izakaya cookbook available for English-speaking clientele (I may be wrong, if so, please let me know). This is not just a cookbook with recipes (It does have detailed recipes and the explanation of Japanese ingredients) but it introduces you to the world of Izakaya culture. This is a very interesting read if you are not familiar with Izakaya or if you are already a big fan of Izakaya. Besides classic small Izakaya, the author also covers more sophisticated drinking places which are best categorized as "Koryori-ya" 小料理屋 as well as fusion style new wave Izakaya best categorized as "Izakaya Bistro" in Tokyo.

This book is one of the reasons I re-started this blog--to share our love of Izakaya and Izakaya food. Many recipes in this book are not difficult to follow and produce very good results. Conversely some recipes may be unnecessarily complex or the ingredients may be difficult to get depending on where you are.

I have made and posted quite afew dishes based on the recipes in this wonderful book and many of them became our home Izakaya "teiban" 定番 or regular dishes including the dish in the cover of this book

2. Easy to make "Otsumami" and drinking snacks すぐ作れる酒の肴とおつまみ (In Japanese).

This is probably the most practical Izakaya cookbook I have. But you have to read Japanese. Every dish is accompanied by a color picture. The pictures, by themselves, are interesting and helpful. Most of the dishes are easy to make but others are slightly more complicated. The recipes are organized by "First dishes to toast with", "Dishes for wine", "Dishes for beer", "Dishes for sake" and "Dishes for shochu".  The dishes span Japanese, Western and Chinese. The table of contents is also organized by the ingredients which is convenient. I made many dishes based on the recipes from this book; cream cheese tuna tartar, browned crispy rice with Parmesan cheese, crispy fried chicken wing with sesame are among those.

A bit of digression; "Sake no sakana" 酒の肴 means anything (mostly food) which goes well with drinking and enhances the enjoyment of drinking. "Sakana" when written as "魚" means "fish" but the original meaning of "sakana" is "food" with a corresponding ideogram of 肴. "Otsumami" おつまみ is similar but, perhaps, simpler and smaller dishes, which are perfect for "Otoshi" お通し or the starter snack. "Tsumamu" つまむ literally means to "pick up" or "pinch" (by fingers or chopsticks). "Ate" あて such as in "sake no ate" is another word meaning the same. "Ate" is a short for "Ategau" あてがう "to accompany or to place next to". Any food which makes a good accompaniment for sake is therefore "ate".

3. "Otoshi" and "Kobachi" idea dishes of Izakaya by Tadashi Shinojima (In Japanese) 居酒屋のお通し、小鉢、アイデア料理 志の島忠 (In Japanese)

This is one of the three books I have by the same author. I like this volume the best. This book appears to be meant for proprietors or masters and madams of Izakaya 居酒屋 or Koryouriya 小料理屋. The first portion has small "otoushi" お通し, "kobachi" 小鉢 (meaning "small bowl") dishes. These are the first small dishes Izakaya will serve when customers order a drink. They are often made-ahead and/or quickly assembled items. Then, many dishes are organized mostly by ingredients. Since this book is  primarily aimed at professionals, recipes include complicated and time consuming ones. The book also contains many tips and suggestions for Izakaya cooks; such as how to make dishes using cheap ingredients with value-added cooking techniques, so that you can charge more with a higher margin etc. Among the dishes I made and posted are simmered deep-fried tofu and daikon rollKanpyo and checkered daikon and carrot. I really like this book and even though you may not follow his recipes, you could get some ideas of how you can make small drinking dishes by just looking through this well illustrated book.

The second book (image below on the left) is titled "A la carte dishes of Izakaya" 居酒屋の一品料理. It is the continuation of his first book but it is organized mostly by the ingredients; for example, dishes of fish, which are then organized by different kinds of fish and so on. There is one section organized by four seasons, since it is important to reflect each seasons in Japanese cuisine, even Izakaya dishes. One word to describe this idea is "shun" 旬. Although they are very nice looking dishes, many ingredients, especially fresh fish, are beyond my reach but it is a nice book to look through. 

The third book (image below on the right) is called "Popular Japanese dishes of Izakaya: Drinking snacks with new twists" 居酒屋の人気の和風料理:新趣向の酒の肴. This one is the least useful to me. It is like a cooking textbook and goes through the techniques and how to arrange the dishes but there are not many interesting recipes per se
He has published many more books but I have not  looked at them.

4. "Otsumami" alley and "Otsumami" alley volume 2 by Yukiko Seo, おつまみ横町おつまみ横町-もう一軒. 瀬尾幸子 (In Japanese).
Dave Perry recommended two Izakaya cookbooks to me called "Otsumami Youkocho" おつまみ横町. There are two volumes. Both are called "drinking snack alley". The second is distinguished from the first by the additional phrase in the title of  "Mou ikken"  もう一軒 meaning "one more place". This is an appropriate name for the second volume because this phrase is a classic nagging request made by drinking enthusiasts (read; drunkards) who have finished their first rounds but don't want the bar hopping to end..."just one more place". In any case, I got these books from Amazon Japan (The shipping was more than the cost of the books). These two volumes each contain recipes for 185 small dishes which go well with drinks. Many of the dishes are rather simple (or easy to make) and some are not really new or original but the two volumes still contain a good number of dishes that I would like to try (and post) Thus far, I posted three dishes from this book, which were really easy to make and good.

5. Hugely delicious drinking snacks by Kentaro Kobayashi ドカンと, うまい つまみ 小林ケンタロウ (In Japanese)
This is a sort of manly drinking snack cook book. The author's mother is a legendary home cooking instructor who won against the Iron chef (in the original Japanese series). Kentaro is also well-accomplished in his own right; a cooking book author, cooking instructor and graphic designer. He has authored quite few cook books but this appears to be his only drinking snack cookbook.

Recipes are mostly cook-as-you-drink type quick dishes, which fit my style of cooking. I have tried some from this book such as "butter, soy sauce with wasabi on steak" and "cabbage braised in butter". One section contains "teiban" izakaya dishes with some useful tips. Nothing unexpected or unusual but this book is very helpful to make quick drinking snacks from whatever ingredients you happen to have.

6. Secret drinking snacks of the head chefs 料理長がこっそり教える酒の肴 (In Japanese)

This book is quite in contrast to the previous two entries above (#4 and #5). These are drinking snack recipes from the head chefs of ten good restaurants (mostly in Tokyo) encompassing Japanese, Chinese, French, and Italian. The recipes are organized by the types of  drinks  - beer, wine, and sake - and then by the restaurants/chefs. I tried a few recipes from this book. Although the few I tried are quite good, some ingredients are difficult to get and some recipes are fairly complicated or technically difficult. Only one dish I tried from this cookbook became our "teiban dish" (of course with some of my modifications), "Cod roe and mountain potato gelée 鱈子と長いものジェル寄せ". This is one of our most favorite drinking snacks and is perfect with cold sake. For me, this dish alone is worth getting the book. 

I think there is the second book in this series but I did not have a chance to check it out.

--MORE TO COME----

No comments: