This is also a classic small dish perfect for Home Izakaya. I am not going to get into a lengthy discussion of how this type of dish came to be called “dengaku” 田楽. The name reportedly came from the appearance of the dish (square with skewers) which resembles a small stage on stilts set up in a rice paddy. Music and dance were performed on this stage for a rustic rice planting cerebration in old Japan which is called “dengaku”, translated as “enjoyment in a rice paddy”. Small portions of tofu, potato, egg plant, “kon-nyaku” or other vegetable are placed on a skewer and grilled with some type of sauce (miso-based is most common). Some items such as potato may need to be pre-cooked before it is grilled. This dish is a sort of snack on a stick, Japanese style.
Classically,”kinome” should be used as a garnish–it looks very nice and has a distinctive flavor. But “kinome” is very difficult to come by in the U.S., unless you have a “sansho” or “Sichuan or Japanese pepper” tree in your backyard. “kinome” is the young shoot of this tree. As long as you do not add any meat or egg yolk to the miso sauce (which are common variations of this type of miso sauce) and use kelp or vegetable dashi broth, this dish is strictly vegetarian.
I served this with a American mini cucumber cut in “jabara” or a snake belly style with a sweet miso sauce.