MODESTO -- You won't need oodles of ingredients to cook the recipes in "Izakaya: Japanese Bar Food" (Hardie Grant, $19.95). These small plates of skewers, salads, sashimi and sweets require few ingredients, so they're a perfect introduction to Japanese tavern fare and a good invite to visit a nearby Asian market.
Many ingredients, such as the panko for crumbed asparagus, are available in major supermarkets.
Most of the recipes serve two to four, which is the perfect amount for sampling.
3½ ounces (1 cup) glutinous rice flour, plus extra for dusting
¼ caster superfine sugar
½ cup milk
¼ cup red bean paste
Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the center and gradually add the milk, whisking with a fork, until a paste forms, Pour onto a slightly greased plate.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer. Place the plate in a bamboo steamer and set over the saucepan. Cover tightly and steam for 20 minutes or until the mixture is no longer sticky to the touch. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
Lightly sprinkle work surface with extra rice flour. Divide the mixture into four pieces and use a rolling pin to roll each one into a 4-inch circle. Place 1 tablespoon of the red bean paste in the center of each circle and pull up the edges to enclose. Pinch to seal and roll in the palms of your hands until smooth. Dust the mochi with a little more rice flour to serve.
This recipe is from "Izakaya: Japanese Bar Food."