Welcome to the eighth of a series of articles spotlighting select Japanese recipes from the new anime series, Isekai Izakaya Nobu! Whether you’re a fan already or have just stumbled upon the show, one thing is for sure: the dishes of gourmet anime Isekai Izakaya ~Koto Aitheria no Izakaya Nobu~ look absolutely amazing! Japanese star chef Ryuta Kijima created simple recipes based on the food served at Izakaya Nobu itself, for you to cook in your own kitchen at home. (Even if you're not a giant anime fan, you're still bound to enjoy these authentic Japanese foods!)
Fitting summer season, episode 15 of Isekai Izakaya Nobu introduces us to one of Japan’s most beloved “beat the heat” ingredients: eel! Since centuries, eel is believed to be the perfect stamina food for summer, fighting sluggishness caused by the hot, humid climate in Japan. It’s commonly enjoyed grilled and coated by a special sauce that differs by restaurant; the airy flakey texture makes eel a real delicacy that even fits the palate of those who tend to stay away from fish – if they only dare to take a bite!
Because preparing eel is quite a task even for confident hobby chefs, Chef Kijima replaces the expensive ingredient with chikuwa. Chikuwa is a type of fish cake and basically grilled or broiled surimi, so if you’re a fan of that fake crab sushi, this recipe is definitely worth checking out! As usual, once you managed to get your hands on chikuwa, it’s easy to make and sure to leave an impression on friends and family!
Chikuwa Bowl & Chikuwa Rolls
As already mentioned, chikuwa belongs to the category of Japanese fish cake. It’s not quite clear when people started to turn fish into savory cakes, but rumor has it that the process is several centuries old. You’ll often find the characteristically tube-shaped chikuwa in hot pot dishes such as oden, in salads, or even fried or served as tempura. It’s a versatile ingredient that boasts all sorts of local recipe varieties!
Here’s a fun fact before we get to the cooking part: the name “chikuwa” means “bamboo ring” and comes from the shape of the fish cake after being sliced.
Makes 2 servings
1. Chikuwa Bowl
・2 rolls of futo (big) chikuwa (*1)
・1 teaspoon salad oil
・a pinch of Japanese pepper
・1 tablespoon water
・1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
・2 teaspoons sugar
・2 teaspoons honey
1. Cut the chikuwa rolls in half and open the four pieces with another vertical cut. Then make three shallow cuts on both the outside and inside of all chikuwa pieces.
2. Put frying oil in a pan and arrange the chikuwa with their inner side facing down. Fry them while pressing them down.
3. Turn the chikuwa and fry for a while longer. Once they’ve browned nicely on both sides, add the A ingredients. Then boil until there’s barely any liquid left.
4. Put 3 of the 4 fried chikuwa on a bowl of rice and coat them with the rest of the sauce in the pan. Add Japanese pepper as you please. Keep 1 piece of chikuwa for the rolls.
2. Chikuwa Rolls
・1 piece of fried chikuwa (see above)
・1 teaspoon salad oil
・3 tablespoons water
・1 tablespoon soy sauce
・a pinch of salt
1. Cut the fried chikuwa into bite-sized pieces. (*2)
2. Stir the eggs with the B ingredients.
3. Pour a bit of the stirred egg in a small frying pan and wait until it is half-done. Then place a few chikuwa pieces on one end and carefully roll up the egg. If your roll seems to need more substance, simply pour some more raw egg on one end and wait until it is half done, then roll up the rest.
4. Take out the roll once it has cooled down a bit and cut it into pieces. Repeat for as many egg rolls as you like! Itadakimasu!
*1 You should be able to find chikuwa at the Asian supermarket of your choice. Should they not have the big version, opt for the regular size.
*2 Chef Kijima uses a special Japanese-style fried egg pan. Should you have one of those, the preparation is as follows:
1. Pour a small amount of stirred egg into the pan and add the chikuwa at the back. Roll it up from the front.
2. Push the rolled-up but to the back and pour 1/3 of the stirred egg under the roll. Then roll up again.
With these quick and easy recipes, you can bring both the taste and atmosphere of Izakaya Nobu to your own kitchen. And don’t hesitate to enjoy Chef Kijima’s creative creations with a frosty beer!