Japanese Tapas Recipes

Izakayas are everywhere in Japan, they’re the equivalent of a casual dining pub, that many people flock to after work or to socialise and enjoy some sharing food and drinks.

Sometimes an Izakaya may have wooden bars to separate customers and you can often sit on tatami mats and eat from low tables.

Most dishes at Izakayas are intended to be shared, and remind me a lot of tapas style dishes. I’ll be posting a few new recipes each week of my favourite Japanese small sharing dishes for you to make yourself at home.

Come and learn how to make these and more in my Traditional Japanese Bento Making workshop.

I made the recipes below last week for a corporate Supper Club event!


Hijiki Seaweed Salad

A wild seaweed with an earthy taste and high in iron, calcium and magnesium. This hijiki salad is one of the most popular ways of eating it.

What you’ll need:

  • ½ cup of dried Hijiki
  • 84g of konnyaku (available in any Japanese shop)
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1/3 cup edamame beans
  • 1.5-2 cups of dashi (you can use kombu dashi for vegetarians)
  • 4 tbsp. mirin
  • 4 tbsp. soy sauce


  • Soak the dried Hijiki in a bowl with cold water for 30 mins and then drain
  • Boil the konnyaku in a small pan for 3 minutes to soften and eliminate its strong smell
  • Cut the carrots and konnyaku into small matchstick sized pieces
  • Heat the oil and add the carrots, the drained Hijiki, then the dashi and bring to the boil
  • Add the mirin and soy sauce, cover and leave on a medium heat for 30 minutes (stirring occasionally)
  • Add the edamame, and cook uncovered until all liquid has gone
  • (optional) I love yuzu citrus seasoning and add a tbsp. of this to my finished salad


Nasu Dengaku – Miso Glazed Aubergine Slices

Aubergines are really popular in Japanese cooking but this particular dish is my favourite!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 aubergine
  • Olive oil for roasting the aubergine
  • Fresh grated ginger
  • Finely chopped spring onion
  • 1 tbsp. white sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp salt

The Glaze:

  • 2 tbsp. miso paste
  • 2 tbsp. mirin
  • 2 tbsp. cooking sake or rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  • Make the glaze – mix miso paste, cooking sake and mirin together in a saucepan until it boils and leave it to cool
  • Cut the aubergine into thick round slices or halves, score the flesh and lay them on a tray. Sprinkle with salt and some olive oil – let them cook in the oven for around 25 minutes or until they’re very soft
  • Take the aubergine out of the oven and coat the flesh of each piece with your miso glaze
  • Put back into the oven for around 3-4 minutes, being careful not to let the paste burn
  • While they’re still hot, sprinkle with white sesame seeds, fresh grated ginger and spring onion…delicious!!

Japanese Potato Salad

A delicious twist on Western potato salad!

What you’ll need:

  • 3 or 4 medium sized potatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/3 cucumber
  • 1/3 cup of Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise (available in Japanese food shops or online)
  • Finely chopped spring onion


  • Cut the cucumbers into thin quarters, rub them with salt and leave them in a sieve to drain some water out of them
  • Peel the potatoes, cut into small pieces and put them in a large pot. Add cold water until it completely covers all potatoes then bring to the boil
  • Lower the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are soft then mash them and transfer to a large bowl to cool
  • Boil the carrot then slice thinly and chop into smaller pieces
  • Add the drained cucumbers and carrot to the potatoes and grind a little pepper and mix all together with the mayonnaise
  • Sprinkle chopped spring onion over the salad and enjoy! 🙂


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