Check out these 11 delicious and addictive "otsumami" Japanese appetizer recipes that will bring the izakaya to your own home!
What is "Otsumami"?
Otsumami (おつまみ) can be translated as "Finger food" or "Nibbles" to English and often associated with midnight snack or beer snack.
When you go to Izakaya (Japanese bar/pub) in Japan, you will find lots of Otsumamis on the menu. It can range from vegetables like pickles to deep fried goods like fried chicken! It's like Japanese version of tapas!
What is an Izakaya?
An izakaya is a Japanese equivalent to a bar or a pub, a place where you can gather with friends or business associates for food and drinks.
Munching and drinking are equally important there. Dishes are usually served in a small dish and shared amongst everyone.
11 Japanese Appetizers "Otsumami" Recipes That Will Be Your Midnight Buddies
Cucumber pickles (きゅうりの漬物)
Tsukemono is the Japanese word for "pickles" and are considered an essential side to many Japanese meals along with miso soup and rice. It's no different when it comes to midnight snack.
You might be surprised how many people would order pickles at Izakaya in Japan.
There's always some pickles police in the group who says "Why don't we order something refreshing, like pickles?" I mean pickles are that important!
Edamame are definitely another classic finger food!
Edamame (枝豆) are a type of young green soybean that are sold still in their pods. The beans are picked before they ripen which is why they are green rather than the beige or brown soybeans you might expect.
It's usually just boiled and salted but I went above and stir-fried with black pepper and oyster sauce! So tasty and totally addictive!
Japanese Style Potato Salad (ポテトサラダ)
You might find it funny but Japanese people often eat potato salad at bars. A surprising amount of Izakayas serve potato salad as beer snack.
In my recipe, to optimise potato salad as a drinking snack, I added black pepper, bacon and sesame oil!
It's easy and quick so it will be good as snacky salad with your beer as well as a suitable side for many dishes!
Gyoza (餃子) are dumplings filled with pork, vegetables and seasonings, and then wrapped in a thin dough. Although they are eaten all across Japan, the dish originates from China and are originally called "Jiaozi".
It's definitely one of the most popular beer snacks and I love it! Japanese gyoza are juicy in the middle and perfectly crispy on the bottom, they're just SO GOOD!
I have a complete guide on how to make Japanese Gyoza from scratch, so if you're interested, please check it out!
Let's be honest, I think one of the dishes that is pretty much guaranteed to be on an izakaya menu is Japanese style fried chicken, Karaage. In fact, it's my favourite dish in the whole world.
My first ever dream when I was kid was even to open my own karaage food stand.
Some people think it's too boring to have it at Izakayas because you see it everywhere in Japan day and night, but I don't care, it's still one of the best side dishes to enjoy with friends.
Nagoya Style Tebasaki Chicken Wings (手羽先の唐揚げ)
Possibly my favourite beer snack! I basically grew up on these wings!
Nagoya Style Tebasaki (Nagoya style chicken wings) are delicious crispy deep fried wings that have been brushed with a special glaze and then generously dusted with a mixture of fine black and white pepper.
They're so addictive as well, I usually end up eating them until the last order!
Nitamago/Ramen egg (煮卵)
You might be wondering "Isn't it for ramen?" Yes, it is, but ramen eggs are also a well loved beer snack.
Although sometimes this dish in translated as "Ramen eggs", we usually call it "Ajitsuke tamago (味付け卵)" or "Nitamago (煮卵)" which means flavoured egg or boiled egg. Some izakayas have this dish on their menu.
Chashu is another element of Ramen, but it can be consumed in different dishes or on its own.
Chashu is a dish made with fatty pork belly, braised or simmered in a soy based sauce. Chashu is usually slow cooked, this causes the texture to become extremely tender.
With a rich flavour and packed with umami, this melt in your mouth chashu can be the perfect drinking snack.
Salted Cabbage (やみつきキャベツ)
These salted cabbages are commonly known as "addictive" or "yamitsuki" (やみつき)" cabbage and are served in izakaya restaurants and yakiniku restaurants (where beer drinkers tend to go).
Like the name suggests, it is actually addictive and some places even offer a free refill service.
It's very easy and cheap to make, I highly recommend it!
Ebi Mayo (エビマヨ)
Although Ebi Mayo can be considered as main dish, a lot of Izakayas would have this on their menus.
Ebi Mayo is a simple shrimp dish that is usually fried and then coated in a seasoned mayonnaise based sauce. The word "ebi" (エビ) is the Japanese word for prawn and usually tiger prawns or king prawns are used for this dish.
With my recipe, I used beer batter to make it lighter and crispier!
Karami Chicken (辛味チキン)
If you've ever been to Saizeriya in Japan, you know Karami Chicken is "The Snack".
Karami chicken (辛味チキン) is one of the most loved dishes at Japanese-Italian family restaurants "Saizeriya (サイゼリヤ)" In fact, karami chicken is nothing to do with Italian cuisine, it's more like Buffalo wings.
Nonetheless, this is my recreation recipe that you can make at home! 🙂
Why not try and host your own "Japanese style Izakaya night" at home using these addictive recipes?
What's your go-to Izakaya dish? Let us know in the comments below!