Cooking Izakaya! It’s Japanese Pub “Chopstick Food” For My “52 In 22” Cooking Challenge!

Celebrating Japanese Izakaya!

My “52 In 22” cooking challenge headed to Japan to cook some uniquely delicious food!

The Japanese word izakaya (居酒屋) is made up of three kanji with the meaning, in order, “stay-drink-place.” A spot to grab a drink, settle in, and get comfortable.

This is my stack of cookbooks for weeks #11-20….I am on week #14.

Since I have been lucky enough to travel to Tokyo five times, I wanted to cook from this terrific Japanese Pub cookbook! Let’s go!

Marinated Grilled Ginger Chicken!

I am going to make a variety of “chopstick food”: easy to grab and eat!

Japanese pubs serve up grilled skewers of all kinds: meats, hearts, kidneys and more! I will keep it straightforward with three different types, beginning with marinated chicken thigh!

I sliced a pound of chicken thighs lengthwise and put them into a container.

I grated two teaspoons of fresh ginger and added the following:

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup siren or rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sake

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed…combine and set aside to marinate for two hours…meanwhile, time to make our next dish!

Yes, this fresh squid from the terrific West Los Angeles Najiya Japanese market, was big and beefy, all the better to grill!

I used these massive tails, carefully cutting off the cartilage, which I’d rather tackle now than after cooking.

For this dish, I let the Squid marinate in some olive oil, lemon and two tablespoons of grated ginger…put it all together in a container and refrigerate…while they marinate, let’s make the sauce for the squid:

A Garlic Butter Sauce!

As you can see, I crushed garlic into a saucepan…it’s all up to you, but I love garlic and used ten cloves!

I added four tablespoons of butter and softly simmered them for ten minutes, stirring to avoid anything burning – then I added two diced celery stalks, and cooked for a few minutes.

At this point, just set it aside and now, it’s time to make more “chopstick food”:, in this case some fun fish cakes and fish balls…

These are store bought from Fujiya, and you simply sear them in a frying pan until the outsides are toasty and golden…

I do these ahead of time and let them sit in a warm pan – because the last part of this feast comes together quickly. You see, it’s time to skewer some meat!

Light your grill and let it get nice and hot…

Time to take your meat and make some skewers to grill…I used sliced Wagyu!

Thread the strips of Wagyu beef on bamboo skewers…no need to add anything to these flavor bombs, the heavy fat marbling will provide plenty…you can salt and pepper if you want…

Grab Your Thighs!

I grabbed the marinating chicken thighs from the refrigerator and. skewered them as well…

You can see that the chicken thighs glisten with the marinate..and next up was the squid:

As you can see, these tentacles were so long that I chose to skewer them across the body of the squid and let the tentacles hang free…

Those are my three different skewers…I put the chicken on first, greasing the rack first to help avoid sticking….I cooked one side for 7-10 minutes and flipped them – now time to add the rest.

Wagyu goes on next, followed by the squid – these cook very quickly: the beef because it’s very thin, the squid because – well, it’s squid and that’s what they do!

Literally 3-4 minutes on each side was all that was needed for the meat and seafood. Take them all off at the same time, and slide your Wagyu and Chicken off the sticks for easier eating.

As for the squid, slide those tentacles into a bowl and pour the celery butter ginger sauce over the top!

Grilled Squid With Celery Ginger Sauce!

Here’s the dish, which has the smoky chewy goodness of grilled Squid and a beautiful ginger lemon sauce to give a smooth pop to the flavors….lay out your meats and fish cakes on a dish next to it, grab some chopsticks and dig in!

On the upper right of the plate I put some steamed potstickers as well, but the meat, chicken, fish cakes and fish balls and Squid with celery were all hot, tasty, and easy to eat with some cold Asahi beer and Sake as well!

This was week #14 of my “52 In 22” challenge, which has travelled the world and crossed oceans of time as well:

This classic Sole dish with Lobster Sauce was from the 60’s, but Vincent Price captured it for all time!

Click here to see how:

That was week one – in the time that followed, I’ve cooked Vegan, Italian, French, and Meatball too:

This was the juiciest, most flavorful Meatball of my life – click here for the recipe and the secret ingredient:

As for the Japanese Pub Cookbook, I loved making a lot of finger food – just like I was able to do in Tokyo when I ate there:

This grilled “Ayu” fish is a delicacy in Japan – and I got to eat it at a 3 Michelin-star restaurant there!

Click here to see how it turned out!

If you enjoy these posts, why not subscribe and never miss out? It’s easy, and there are NO ads of any kind, just stuff I like – from music to movies, books, travel, food and more…click on the main page and “follow” me on the upper right…

As for my “52 Cookbooks 52 Recipes” challenge, I am sharing and storing all of these recipes on my food website “Bite! Eat! Repeat!” – it’s your site for all things food – if you like what you see, please click on my link and follow this blog as well!

Let me know what you think of my “52 In 22” challenge!

If you like the story, share it with friends on social media! Thanks!

Categories: cookbooks, Exotic Travel, Food, food blog, Food Review, Japan, Recipes, Restaurants, Tokyo!, Travel, Travel Adventures, Wacky Food

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

17 replies

  1. I’ll pass on the squid…


  2. what a wonderful feast! I had no idea that Japan had ‘pubs.’

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoy john! I miss Izakaya too, with all you can drink course!🍻🍷🍶🍸

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The squid looks much more appealing under the sauce, John. I always think of Ursula, the witch from The LIttle Mermaid, when I think of squid.


  5. I would be happy to eat all of that, John. I am envious of your trips to Japan, a country I would dearly love to visit.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What an effort on your part! I like your hamburger shirt. So sorry, what is it about pictures of food that make me want to gag? That squid! I’m sure it was delicious…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That’s some big boy squid…it all looks delicious John I am loving this series… the ginger, lemon and celery sauce sounds good 🙂


  8. Wow! This looks so good. What time is dinner?

    Liked by 1 person

    • HA! It was a fun change of pace from some of the other recipes I’ve tackled…and as pure “chopstick food”, you can set it out and let everyone just grab a bite from the options sitting there! Thanks so much for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person


  1. My “Chocolate Salted Caramel Buttercream” Birthday Cake Surprise For Alex! This “52 In 22” Cooking Challenge Was A Stacking Disaster! – johnrieber
  2. I Made Asian Dumplings At Home! My “52 In 22” Cooking Challenge Has Siu Mai And Potstickers! – johnrieber
  3. Tomato Gravy Catfish – With Bacon! My “52 In 22” Cooking Challenge Has A Feast From “Mr. Joe”! – johnrieber

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