It’s cold outside and there’s a novel coronavirus about, so it’s an ideal time to try out some new dishes in the kitchen. You still have time to perfect the quintessential New Year’s dish, toshikoshi soba, with the help of Makiko Itoh, who serves up the history and symbolism behind the meal before divulging her recipe for a variation with nanban-style duck.

Or how about a classic inaka nimono for a cold winter’s day — a hearty, country-style stewed dish with daikon radish and carrot? For that you’ll need taro, aka satoimo, which, Itoh informs us, used to be reserved for the wealthy but now is eaten by all and sundry. Just watch out for those pesky raphides!

10 popular izakaya food recipes | OCHIKERON
10 popular izakaya food recipes | OCHIKERON

If izakaya (taverns) are your thing but you don’t feel comfortable taking your chances at the real thing right now, you can make-pretend your own at home, if you have Wataru Yokota’s “The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook” at hand (reviewed here by Claire Williamson).

If you don’t, never fear, Itoh is here again with a recipe for her izakaya staple: simmered furofuki daikon with miso sauce and spicy stir-fried daikon kinpira. T5 defies you to read Itoh’s rundown of a typical night at an izakaya without salivating.

Need a bigger challenge? Then why not try following a Japanese recipe in Japanese? It’s a great way to learn the lingo, plus you get a treat (or at least an edible flop) at the end of the lesson. But before that, check out Eric Margolis’ starter guide to deciphering recipes in Nihongo, which, in fact, contains a recipe itself. Itadakimasu!