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Japanese Recipe

Tilapia Nanban

In this section, chefs and culinary professionals test out Japanese seasonings, ingredients or cooking methods and create original recipes with their fresh perspectives. This month Chef Danielle Sobel of AZASU on the Lower East Side created Tilapia Nanban, a main dish inspired by the nanban-zuke style.

To add depth to the flavor of my Nanban tare sauce, I mix fresh pureed apples and onions and then set it for a week before I use it. In a way it is fermented a little bit, but that gives a good balance between the sweet, sour and salty flavors.

—Danielle Sobel

[Ingredients: Serves 1]
• 130 g tempura flour μ 200 cc cold water
(Nanban tare [vinegar sauce])
• 120 cc shoyu μ 200 cc rice vinegar μ 100 g sugar μ 1 apple μ 1/2 onion
(Tartar sauce)
• 500 g Kewpie mayonnaise
• 1/2 onion, minced
• 2.5 g salt
• 5 g sugar
• 1.5 g pepper
• 15 g karashi (Japanese mustard)
• 10 cc usukuchi shoyu
• 5 g Shibazuke, minced
• 5 g Kappa zuke, minced
• 5 g Takuan, minced

1. Make Nanban tare sauce. Remove seeds and skin from apple then puree in food processor with onion.
2. Combine all other ingredients.  (Recommended to let it set for a couple of days)
3. Make tartar sauce. Whisk Kewpie brand mayonnaise to fluff it up.
4. Add onion, salt, sugar, pepper, karashi and usukuchi shoyu and mix well.
5. Mix tempura flour and water to make batter.


6. Dip tilapia fillet into the batter and coat it evenly.


7. Deep fry tilapia until it’s done.
8. Cut tilapia tempura in half and arrange on a plate.
9. Drizzle Nanban tare over the tempura.


10. Sprinkle three kinds of pickles on the tartar sauce and serve it on the side of the dish.


In Japan Nanban refers to things imported through trade with Spain and Portugal via Southeastern Asia. When it comes to food, it means either vinegary marinade dishes like escabeche or spicy dishes using red pepper.  Actually red pepper itself was once called “Nanban”.  Chef Sobel took inspiration from Nanban-zuke to marinate fried fish and meat in sweet and sour sauce.



Danielle Sobel
She fell in love with cooking while attending college to study biochemistry and psychology.  Soon she took the step to pursue a cooking career and studied at the French Culinary Institute where she became interested in Japanese cuisine. Before joining Yopparai (AZASU’s sister restaurant), she worked at upscale Japanese restaurants in New York such as Morimoto, Sushi Azabu and En Japanese Brasserie.



This Japanese izakaya with Lower East Side twists offers an extensive sake list, including upcoming “cup sake”, with chef Sobel’s playful interpretation of traditional izakaya food.

49 Clinton St. (bet. Rivington & Stanton Sts.)
New York, NY 10002
TEL: 212-777-7069