I love eating at Japanese izakayas: drinking holes that serve small share plates that you munch on while drinking copious amounts of alcohol. There’s quite an izakaya scene in Vancouver and the food they serve is some of my favourite. Most izakayas usually have a small variety of sashimi (hardly sushi); yakitori and kushiyaki; noodle and rice dishes; and tonnes of deep-fried goodness. A lot of the food is innovative, cheap and delicious.
Since the plates are small you can order 5-6 dishes for 2 people, which allows you a lot of variety. Inevitably, one of the dishes I will order is korokke. If you’ve never had korokke, you’re missing out. Crisp, panko-ed outsides, soft, fluffy mashed potato insides studded with meat, corn and onions, they’re kind of like a deep-fried shepherd’s pie. Korokke comes in all different sizes and varieties.
One of the popular izakayas, Guu, has a signature dish: kobocha korokke. It’s a whole boiled egg inside a kobocha croquette. The Guu kabocha korokke is simple, but so tasty. The sweetness of the kabocha with their thousand island-type Japanese mayonnaise dressing is seriously addictive. Throw a boiled egg in and it’s an unforgettable dish.
I learned about the kabocha korokke even before I ever knew what an izakaya was. At the time I was working at a daycare, chatting to my co-worker about what she had done the night before. She mentioned she went to a really cool Japanese restaurant and had this amazing deep-fried pumpkin and egg dish. Honestly, it didn’t sound great to me, but I took her word for it and checked out the restaurant, which was Guu.
Guu blew me away with it’s energetic atmosphere, cheerful yelling servers and of course, the food. All it took was the one visit; I was hooked. Since then, I’ve been to all the izakaya offerings in Vancouver. I haven’t made much izakaya food at home, but quail eggs caught my eye at the grocery store, and somehow ended up being mini-fied versions of Guu’s kabocha korokke, but with acorn squash.
The mini acorn squash korokke were fantastic. The acorn squash was sweet and nutty and the quail eggs were delicate and delicious. Mike liked these better than the Guu version, but I still think Guu does them better!
Acorn Squash Egg Korokke Recipe
1 small acorn squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
9 hard-boiled and peeled quail eggs
2 tablespoons of flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup panko
oil for deep-frying
Cut the acorn squash in half and drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Bake at 400˚F for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool and then scoop out the flesh and mash. Taste and season. If the squash feels to wet to form, add a bit of panko to bind it together.
Take about 2 tablespoons of squash and enclose the quail egg by shaping the squash into a ball. Roll the korokke in flour, egg and then panko. Repeat until you have 9 korokke.
Heat up oil to 375˚F and deep-fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove, drain on paper towels and serve hot with Kewpie mayonnaise and Japanese mustard.