I don’t actually know Tim Anderson, but every time he brings out a new book, I feel that it is a present from a friend: he just seems to know exactly what I want to be eating. And there is something about his I-can’t-wait-for-you-to-make-this enthusiasm about his recipes that make me as excited as a child at Christmas. While I loved, and still love, his Vegan JapanEasy, I have developed a particular passion for Your Home Izakaya. And I say that as someone who, I must admit, had never heard the actual word “izakaya" before getting this book. Though once I’d read it, I realised had actually eaten in such a place in Sydney. An izakaya is - and I hope my description passes muster - a busy, buzzing but workaday drinking den, where small, informal plates of flavourful food are served to pick at while you drink.
I’m rather the opposite of the I’m-only-here-for-the-beer brigade, so am all too happy to forgo the booze and focus on the food in my own home, so of course I feel that the book is written for me! (Although I should add that there is indeed a section on drinks in the book.) There are so many recipes I’m falling over myself to make, but let me just mention a few of them: Addictive Cabbage, a salty zingy, crunchy salad-cum-relish; the pink-and-green beauty that is his Radish and Watercress Salad; Chilled Tofu with Egg Yolk, Chilli and Spring Onion; Korean-Style Beef Tartare; the fabulous fusion dish (as many recipes in this divine book are) of Cheese and Onion Gyoza; ditto, Japanese Fish and Chips; Cheese Dakgalbi, which Anderson describes as “chicken and vegetables sautéed in an intoxicatingly tasty Korean chilli sauce, then pushed to the sides of the pan to make for a lake of liquified cheese”; Fish Finger Hand Rolls, which I obviously couldn’t resist; and the Udon Carbonara with Bacon Tempura. But the recipe I just had to share with you today is the Pepper Steak with Garlic Soy Sauce Butter. And let me say, before I leave you to drool over the recipe, that most of the recipes are written for two people (as, indeed, this one is) which makes this a book that is really wonderful for those who, like me, live alone. I say that as I know I will happily make these recipes for two to eat greedily alone!
Your Home Izakaya by Tim Anderson (Hardie Grant, £25).
Photography © Laura Edwards