Japanese cuisine offers an incredibly exciting culinary experience – both gustatory and visual. It is based on several main ingredients – fresh fish, fruit, vegetables and rice, all of high quality and virtually unprocessed. The essence of Japanese cuisine is aptly captured in the old saying that “you eat with your eyes.” Every dish is a separate composition, looking like a work of art. All this makes Japanese snacks and starters perfect for a reception or a party.

Japanese snacks

Japanese cuisine offers excellent ideas for snacks for your guests. They are not only impressive but also simple and quick to prepare. What comes to mind first is the beloved sushi and sashimi but we encourage you not to stop here but to try less popular dishes.

Seafood enthusiasts are bound to enjoy Japanese prawns (ebi furai). They require very few ingredients: prawns, flour, egg, salt, pepper and Japanese breadcrumbs Panko (which can be easily substituted with regular breadcrumbs). It is good to fry the dish in peanut oil, which will give the dish a deep taste. First sprinkle the prawns with salt and pepper, roll in flour and stirred eggs, and finally in breadcrumbs. Toss the prawns on pre-heated oil and fry until golden brown.

Another dish that can be prepared in just a few minutes is okonomiyaki – vegetable pancakes, often referred to as Japanese pizza. The foundation is pancake dough and cabbage, while other ingredients can be chosen depending on your own preferences. This freedom is expressed in the name of the dish, which means simply “what you like.” The most popular okonomiyaki comes from the Osaka and Hiroshima regions, the difference being that in the former version the ingredients are mixed, and in the latter they are layered. The dish is not complicated to prepare: add your favourite ingredients, finely chopped, to the pancake batter, stir thoroughly and fry on both sides.

Other Japan’s favourite dishes include Hotategai batayaki, that is fried escallops (St. James shells). We can find them on the menus of many Japanese bars, where they are served as an accompaniment to sake. To prepare it, you will need about 500 g of escallops, 3 onions, clarified butter, salt, pepper and wasabi (half a teaspoonful), mirin (2 spoonfuls) and sake (1 spoonful). First toss frozen escallops to boiling water, and then after 3 minutes take them out and dry. Slice the onion and mix mirin and wasabi together. Fry the onion on pre-heated clarified butter, add the escallops, salt and pepper, and 2 minutes later add mirin, sake and awasabi. Keep frying for three more minutes…. and it’s ready!

Japanese starters

The Japanese love to celebrate their meals, which is why the main course is often preceded by a number of starters (in Japanese: Osōsai) お惣菜. These light, carefully prepared dishes are to build up an appetite and amaze the guests. The most popular Japanese starters include takoyaki – chopped octopus in a ball of fluffy dough. Its preparation requires either a special machine or a cast-iron pan with semi-circle hollows.

A starter that can be easily prepared at home is a wakame seaweed salad. Dried algae must be saturated in water and then drained and mixed with a sauce made of rice vinegar, sugar or mirin and soy sauce. The salad can be enriched with half slices of fresh cucumber and it must be sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Another light side dish, incredibly popular in Japan, is Gomaae. It is made of cooked vegetables and a sesame seed dressing. There are several variants of Gomaae with various vegetables but it is usually made of spinach or green beans.

Japanese party snacks

Contrary to popular belief, preparing Japanese snacks does not require any special skills or knowledge. The culinary diversity of the Country of Cherry Blossoms allows even a layman to create original tastes which will make a lasting gustatory as well as visual impression. Your guests are bound to appreciate your endeavours and remember the snacks for a long time.

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