The first comprehensive introduction to Japanese cooking for the U.S. market in two decades.
Shimbo's recipes are a joy, introducing over 200 wonderful dishes from the Japanese culinary repertoire to Western readers. Agedashi tofu (crisp tofu cubes in tempura sauce), negima-nabe (tuna and leek hotpot), multiple variations on fresh ramen and yakitori skewered chicken, the unusual gyuniku no misozuke (miso-marinated steak), usuyaki senbei (homemade rice crackers), mitsumame (chilled gelatin in syrup), along with modern Japanified Western standards like ebifurai (fried shrimp in a crisp breading), omu raisu (rice-filled omelet), and kurimu korokke (creamy croquettes) are all here. Each recipe is prefaced with a tale about its origin or the author's childhood memories, and clear instructions make preparation of "exotic, foreign" specialties easy.
Less successful are some of Shimbo's unique concoctions: soybean hummus (why?), eel burgers, "creamed" soup made of carrots, celery, garlic, miso, and soy milk. But these misfires, thankfully, can be easily overlooked.
Another of the book's strengths is the author's deep investigation into ingredients.
Shimbo, a native of Japan who teaches frequently at major cooking schools in the United States and Europe, took years to write this book, visiting artisanal food producers across Japan to gather first-hand information about how products are grown and manufactured. Her research is a goldmine for devotees of Japanese food. I've been cooking Japanese food for 25+ years, and am Japanese Food Host at BellaOnline.Read more ›
As a Japanese cookbook there are serious things missing, especially about presentation of food which is essential to Japanese cuisine. There are no suggestions or photos to give any guidance. It would be foolish to use traditional non-stainless Japanese knives instead of Western style knives, if you don't know how to use them or sharpen them. This is also an essential part of Japanese cooking. There seems to be much too much emphasis on sauteing and Chinese-style preparation to consider this as Japanese cooking. Japanese cooks are trained to use wooden chopsticks, so that suggestions to use a fork, without advising that this is okay if you can't use chopsticks is absolutely contrary to Japanese cookery.
The book may be useful for those who have limited cooking skills, but would like to try something "Japanese-style".
This book is a treasure to help you get many many great ideas and understand authentic Japanese cuisine. Every recipe comes with valuable notes that you can't find in most Japanese cookbook, and these notes are beautifully written with the author's deep knowledg of cooking, love of nature, and respect of Japanese tradition.
One simple example is the last recipe in this book "Mom's Japanese Green Plum Wine". The ingredients are simple: fresh plums, sugar, white liquor. Yet the author explains that rock sugar is preferred because it dissolves more slowly than granulated sugar, and so helps to extract more juice from the plums. Details like this make a difference. I've seen this recipe before but it's not untill I read this book, I feel I have the most authentic recipe.
This is also a good book for vegetarians and vegans, because there's only a small part of the recepies that contain meat, and the meat can often be substituted with Tofu.
Read this book, please...