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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond sushi
Books that delve into Japanese cuisine beyond the popular restaurant dishes like sushi and miso soup are few and far between. And in that sense, this book does not disappoint.
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...
Published on March 30 2001 by Susan Porjes

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buy a Japanese cookbook instead
I greatly admire people who have the courage to write books and those with the entrepreneur spirit to create businesses. However, from the reader, user's side, I have limited resources in time and money. I suggest that readers look at other books before considering this one.
As a Japanese cookbook there are serious things missing, especially about presentation of...
Published on Dec 25 2000 by sidney feinleib


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond sushi, March 30 2001
By 
Susan Porjes "Food writer" (Honolulu, HI USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Japanese Kitchen: 250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit (Paperback)
Books that delve into Japanese cuisine beyond the popular restaurant dishes like sushi and miso soup are few and far between. And in that sense, this book does not disappoint.
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.com, yet only from this book, for instance, did I learn that the plant from which konnyaku--a gelatinous cake used in hotpots and simmered dishes--is made, is related to taro! The plant's name is usually translated into English as "devil's tongue root," which doesn't give a clue to what it really is. To anyone familiar with taro through Hawaiian food, Chinese food, or even taro potato chips, a taro connection makes a lot of sense, given konnyaku's typical speckled gray appearance. It was like a light bulb going on for me.
Each ingredient is described thoroughly with "what to look for" and "storage" sections explaining how to choose top-quality ingredients and keep them in peak condition. I'm especially impressed by Shimbo's clarifications of the differences among types of miso, noodles, and sake.
But the book has two real weaknesses: its lack of photographs and its basic disorganization.
Although line drawings illustrate a few unusual ingredients and cooking techniques difficult to explain in words, there are no photographs of finished dishes--a glaring omission for a cuisine that places so much emphasis on presentation. Okay, I can live with that, as some of my favorite older Japanese cookbooks are sparsely illustrated.
What bothers me more is the book's organization--or lack thereof. I've owned this book for a month now, and still can't find my way around or quickly locate particular recipes. The first part of the book contains several sections that intersperse descriptions of ingredients with recipes that use them. The second half follows a more standard cookbook order of Appetizers, Soups, Vegetable Dishes, Sushi, Rice and Noodle Dishes, Main Dishes and Desserts. This places a recipe entitled "Classic Creamy Sesame-Vinegar Dressing with Broccoli" (Shimbo's variation of the traditional spinach in sesame seed dressing) in the ingredients section under "G" for goma, the Japanese word for sesame seeds.
Moreover, due to the book's equally peculiar indexing, this recipe cannot be located by looking up "broccoli, "goma," or even "classic," but is indexed as "creamy sesame-vinegar dressing with broccoli" and "sesame-vinegar dressing, creamy, with broccoli." So, even if you know a recipe's exact title, it often is not listed that way in the index. I find myself frustratingly leafing through the book time and time again to find a recipe I know is hiding somewhere.
Still, the pluses in this book greatly outweigh the minuses. This is one of the best Japanese cookbooks available in English today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised..., Feb. 22 2003
By 
Lindsey A. (Ann Arbor, MI) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Japanese Kitchen: 250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit (Paperback)
... that this isn't higher up on the list of popular Japanese cookbooks on this sight. I consider this book to be one of the most definitive books on the subject of Japanese cooking. The Nobu cookbook (which is the most popular) isn't Japanese so much as it is Pan-Asian, and then the other books, are all sushi books, which is strange to me seeing as, having lived in Japan, I know that Japanese people rarely eat sushi (it's expensive there too!) Hiroko Shinbo's book was given to me as a present, and I have grown to really love it. I was at first put off a little by the lack of photos, but then when I realized that it contains many of the REAL dishes that I am familiar with, I started to use it more and more. It is easy enough that anyone can cook the dishes in this book, and has all the real dishes that I remember eating in Japan.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic !, April 26 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Japanese Kitchen: 250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit (Paperback)
This book is really one of the best cookbooks. The great chef Charlie Trotter(a big culinary hero of mine) said something about choosing cookbooks:" When you get a cookbook, READ it, don't just look at the pictures! ...review any information the book gives on different foods, and look through the notes that are included with the recipes....This is where you can get your best ideas."
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...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful recipes drawn from traditional Japanese kitchens, Jan. 10 2003
This review is from: The Japanese Kitchen: 250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit (Paperback)
Selected and compiled by food writer, consultant, teacher, and Japanese cuisine expert Hiroko Shimbo, The Japanese Kitchen features 250 wonderful recipes drawn from traditional Japanese kitchens. Enhanced descriptions of Japanese ingredients (including where to find them and how to choose them), as well as with helpful illustrations and clear, step-by-step preparational instructions, the recipes range from Ingen no Kurumi-miso-ae (Green Beans in Walnut-Miso Dressing); Shimeji Gohan (Rice with Shimeji Mushrooms); and Buta-miso Ramen (Ramen with Pork-and-Miso Sauce); to Suzuki no Gomamiso-yaki (Broiled Sea Bass with Sesame Seeds); Tori-nabe (Hearty Chicken Hot Pot); and Mushi Chokoreito Keiki (Light and Delightful Steamed Chocolate Cake). Informative and thoroughly "user friendly", The Japanese Kitchen is enthusiastically recommended for inclusion into multi-cultural and ethnic cookbook collections.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful Japanese Cuisine, July 27 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Japanese Kitchen: 250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit (Paperback)
I purchased this book after visiting a Japanese restaurant in Las Vegas (Osaka in Henderson). I had Sukiyaki and was so impressed, I wanted to try it at home. This book has many fine recipes, and yes, the Sukiyaki from this book was even better than the restaurant. Sometimes unusual ingredients are called for, but with a little patience and hunting, they can be found. I am fortunate to have a great Asian market nearby, and the staff is eager to assist me with my requests. I suggest you do the same, or find one on-line. Safeway just isn't going to carry Sweet Taro Noodles or quail eggs.
My only complaint is that there are no photos. You're on your own for presentation and techniques. But the recipes themselves are fantastic and authentic. Whether you're new to Japanese cooking or well seasoned, this book has something for you. Enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book without Glitz, March 29 2001
By 
Hans Stampfli (Everett, WA United States) - See all my reviews
Ignore the rabble who say that this book doesn't give you presentation photos. You want that, go buy a picture book. I'll be reading this beauty, which details something lacking in many of the "high gloss" japanese cookbooks: the actual food preperation. Granted, many of the supplies are not easily available outside of the west coast, but it is STILL easily the best book on Japanese cooking I have read. This book actually tells you how to prepare the food, in clear simple, english. Further, the author give copius sections over to explaining what the less familiar ingrediants are, what they are made of and their nutritional value. This book is excellent. AS said before, if you want a picture book instead of a cookbook, then dandy, go elsewhere. If you want a REAL cookbook however, choose this text.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The DEFINITIVE guide to Japanese home cooking, June 28 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Japanese Kitchen: 250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit (Paperback)
This is THE BOOK to have on Japanese home cooking. 250 wonderful true homestyle recipes - I'm in heaven! Not only are the recipes delicious and instructions precise, Shimbo does a good job explaining WHY certain steps must be taken - these hints are great for making anyone a better cook overall, period. My only slight complaint is the lack of photographs - but I understand the cost would have been prohibitive and would have resulted in less recipes being published, so I can live with the tradeoff. A MUST-HAVE for anyone looking to have DELICIOUS, SIMPLE, and HEALTHY food on your table! Being Asian-American, this book allows me to have comfort food I thought I'd never get again after leaving my mom's house!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for food lovers, Jan. 28 2001
By 
This is a terrific book. It is straighforward and pleasing to read, with nicely put together recipes and lots of information about ingredients (and substitutes).
This is not a book to flip open on the coffee table for inspiration as you stare at gorgeous photos of Japanese cuisine. Nope, this is the sort of book you'll dog-ear and spill soy sauce on as you're prepping the shabu shabu Hiroko Shimbo is telling you how to make.
About 250 recipes, several sequences of drawings demonstrating technique, and both traditional and freestyling recipes that seem to have been well tested.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for food lovers, Jan. 28 2001
By 
This is a terrific book. It is straighforward and pleasing to read, with nicely put together recipes and lots of information about ingredients (and substitutes).
This is not a book to flip open on the coffee table for inspiration as you stare at gorgeous photos of Japanese cuisine. Nope, this is the sort of book you'll dog-ear and spill shoyhu on as you're prepping the shabu shabu Hiroko Shimbo is telling you how to make.
About 250 recipes, several sequences of drawings demonstrating technique, and both traditional and freestyling recipes that seem to have been well tested.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for food lovers, Jan. 28 2001
By 
This is a terrific book. It is straighforward and pleasing to read, with nicely put together recipes and lots of information about ingredients (and substitutes).
This is not a book to flip open on the coffee table for inspiration as you stare at gorgeous photos of Japanese cuisine. Nope, this is the sort of book you'll dog-ear and spill shoyhu on as you're prepping the shabu shabu Hiroko Shimbo is telling you how to make.
About 250 recipes, several sequences of drawings demonstrating technique, and both traditional and freestyling recipes that seem to have been well tested.
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The Japanese Kitchen: 250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit
The Japanese Kitchen: 250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit by Hiroko Shimbo (Paperback - Nov. 7 2000)
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