7 Jun 2016
This is one of the first multi-course / "tasting" menus I've ever designed and cooked (a liberal application of that term, but it sounds nice). I had a free Saturday afternoon and decided I wanted to spend it cooking. The result is a four-course menu composed of dishes you might find at an izakaya, a Japanese bar/restaurant.
The dishes are:
If you're cooking this solo, it's a pretty significant time involvement (I cooked and ate each dish one at a time so I didn't starve by the end), but well worth the investment.
Miso soup is based on dashi, a broth of dried kelp and bonito fish flakes that forms the foundation of many Japanese dishes. I typically make my own dashi using kombu (dried kelp) and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). If you don't have those ingredients or don't feel like spending the time, dried granules such as Hondashi work as well.
4 cups dashi
1 Tbsp white miso paste
1 Tbsp mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 cup firm tofu, cubed
1 green onion
Originally based on this recipe. Agedashi tofu is lightly fried tofu blocks with moisture pressed out, served in a dashi/soy broth. The original recipe calls for katakuriko, or potato starch, for coating the tofu. I didn't want to buy a whole package just for this dish, so I substituted cornstarch and it worked out just fine.
When I made this, 2 cups of dashi in the sauce seemed like a lot so I only used 1. I still had plenty of sauce, but it was a bit too salty and needed the dilution; I'd use 1 1/2 cups here at least, if not the full 2 cups.
1 package firm tofu
1 cup cornstarch
Neutral oil for deep frying
2 Tbsp shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
2 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp sake
2 cups dashi
Katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
Sliced green onions
Grated daikon radish
Originally based on this recipe. Yakitori is grilled chicken skewers, traditionally cooked over a charcoal fire. I unfortunately do not have a charcoal fire in my apartment, nor even access to a real grill, so this is my compromise version where I broil the chicken skewers to try and get a tasty crispy texture.
A note on sauce: I found the sauce delicious but a little thin. Next time I'd stir in a teaspoon or so of cornstarch to thicken it up a bit.
A note on plating: As you can see in the picture I poured the sauce directly over the skewers on the plate. This tastes great but puddles up on the plate and doesn't look so good; if you care about that sort of thing I'd brush on the sauce separately and then transfer to the serving plate.
Metal or wooden skewers
1 lb boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
2 Tbsp sake
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 inch ginger, minced
Green onions, sliced for garnish
Originally based on this recipe. Saba shioyaki translates to literally mackerel (saba) grilled with salt (shio). It's an extremely simple and easy dish that relies solely on the salt and rich flavor of the mackerel.
I've filleted whole mackerel before, but here I was able to find cleaned and packaged fillets in my local Japanese supermarket, so I went with those to save some effort.
Note: the last time I tried grilling mackerel fillets on my grill pan, it completely fell apart and made a mess. Here I went the easy route and just pan fried it.
2 mackerel fillets
2 Tbsp sake
2 inches Daikon radish peeled and grated, for garnish
Lemon slices, for garnish