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Japanese cookbook recommendations


Akiko
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As my husband and I were careening through Selfridges yesterday (trying to run our errands) I was waylaid by a new Japanese Cookbook. I didn't really get a chance to give it a thorough lookover but I did flip through it and it looks like it may be a good one.

It's a Masterclass.... the author is Japanese but now lives in England... and I can't remember what its called, something very original, like japanese cooking!

Has anyone else seen this? Or have old standards that they would like to recommend?

Bad Japanese daughter that I am, I can recreate many of my mother's standby dishes but have never bought a japanese cookbook.... I'd like to educate myself in the basics. I also love those moments when you read a technique that you've been doing forever just because this is what you mom did and get to hear the bell in your head go off as you realize, "Oh, so that's what that is called."

Okay, I do own the Nobu cookbook and a Madhur Jaffrey that spans all of Asia, but you can't really call those Japanese cookbooks.

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Spent a while last year trying to find a definitive basic jap cookbook - seem to be a lot which do a bit of this or a bit of that but didn't have the breadth or depth for what i was looking for.

Best I could come up with was Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji. Not that flashy but covers the basics well

cheerio

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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I have the "Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art" book, and while I don't think I've actually cooked from it, I know it's very often referred to as the definitive English language Japanese cookbook. Having an introduction from M.K.F Fisher doesn't hurt, either.

Last week I got a new, just published book from a restaurant in Japan called "Shunju: New Japanese Cuisine". Certainly not basic or comprehensive, but it uses some traditional techniques and ingredients in creating very modern dishes. The food is sort of like Japanese Michel Bras. Absolutely gorgeous photography. There is a section in the back on techniques with step-by-step photos as well as a list and photos of non-western ingredients.

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Last week I got a new, just published book from a restaurant in Japan called "Shunju: New Japanese Cuisine". Certainly not basic or comprehensive, but it uses some traditional techniques and ingredients in creating very modern dishes. The food is sort of like Japanese Michel Bras. Absolutely gorgeous photography. There is a section in the back on techniques with step-by-step photos as well as a list and photos of non-western ingredients.

Is this book in English or Japanese?

The only Japanese cookbooks I own are Shizuo Tsuji's Japanese Cooking a simple art and Practical Japanese cooking.

At one time I owned about 15 but they were all basic cookbooks and covered the same things.

I still really want Nobu's book as I am more interested in "newer" food than the traditional stuff.

Since I read Japanese I prefer books in Japanese. I really like this guy here that just goes by his first name Kentaro, sort of like Jamie Oliver but not nearly as annoying. My favorite Japanese author is Makiko Fujino (who actually lives down the street from me!) she cooks most European style foods, but her Japanese stuff is wonderful as well.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Last week I got a new, just published book from a restaurant in Japan called "Shunju: New Japanese Cuisine". Certainly not basic or comprehensive, but it uses some traditional techniques and ingredients in creating very modern dishes. The food is sort of like Japanese Michel Bras. Absolutely gorgeous photography. There is a section in the back on techniques with step-by-step photos as well as a list and photos of non-western ingredients.

Is this book in English or Japanese?

English with dish titles also given in Japanese. Ingredients are listed by weight in both ounces and grams.

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Tokaris,

Can you describe a dish or two that Kentaro makes? I'd be interested in that, although, I have a terrible image in my head of a SMAP-ish looking Japanese 20 something year old that says "and bang those boys in the oven, easy peasy.".....

although that doesn't really translate... he'd be saying something like "kakko ee" about his dishes or "um-e" - my phonetic of how Japanese men say umai.

Is he like that?

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Tokaris,

Can you describe a dish or two that Kentaro makes?  I'd be interested in that, although, I have a terrible image in my head of a SMAP-ish looking Japanese 20 something year old that says "and bang those boys in the oven, easy peasy.".....

although that doesn't really translate... he'd be saying something like "kakko ee" about his dishes or "um-e" - my phonetic of how Japanese men say umai.

Is he like that?

Kentaro is about as far from the Smap guys as you can get. He is very quiet and reserved and you rarely seee him on TV. He is a single guy in his mid to late 20's (my guess) and most of his recipes are simple but good food for either one or two people. He has a lot of "one dish" meals like donburis, curries, sauteed meats with simple sides.

One of my favorites in called Chinese tuna salad :

In a bowl combine

2 tablespoons cashew nuts

1 tablespoon each of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon of oyster sauce

then add:

1/2 block sashimi style tuna

1 stick of celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1/2 Japanese scallion, thinly sliced on the diagonal

In a small pan heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of sesame oil until just starting to smoke, remove from heat and pour over the salad. Serve immediately.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 5 weeks later...
Last week I got a new, just published book from a restaurant in Japan called "Shunju: New Japanese Cuisine". Certainly not basic or comprehensive, but it uses some traditional techniques and ingredients in creating very modern dishes. The food is sort of like Japanese Michel Bras. Absolutely gorgeous photography. There is a section in the back on techniques with step-by-step photos as well as a list and photos of non-western ingredients.

Is this book in English or Japanese?

English with dish titles also given in Japanese. Ingredients are listed by weight in both ounces and grams.

I just ordered and received the Shunju book.

The pictures are absolutely gorgeous and I love the book however I don't know if I would recommend it (for cooking) to someone who doesn't have access to a VERY well stocked Japanese grocer.

I had never heard of some of the ingredients used before and asking my Japanese friends gets equally confused faces.

The first 5 recipes call for freshly dug bamboo shoots, which is no problem for me since I practically live in a bamboo forest, but don't know too many sources in the US. The next recipe calls for 6 wild mountain plants only 2 of which I have ever seen in a supermarket (in Japan) before as well as young green tea leaves which I have never seen for sale before.

There are a lot of recipes I will make though, including a green bean soymilk yuba, grilled soramame (fava beans), kani sembei, grilled smoked autumn salmon belly,, seared bonito sashimi with apple mustard dressing and chinese cabbage with cashew nut sauce.

This is no way your typical Japanese food, but if you are up to a challenge it is defitely worth a look!

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I made the last two recipes I listed in the above post and although they were both good, I had a couple complaints.

In the cashew sauce there was an ungodly amount of tonbanjian (Chinese chile sauce) even halving the amount left you tasting nothing else. Also in the instructions, they neglect to tell you exactly how to make the sauce. They tell you to grind the cashews and then the next step has you adding the sauce to the cabbage. I mean it isn't hard to amke a sauce but they don't even say anything like mix the ingerdients together.

The second recipe was good too, but next time I won't bother with the mustard, instead base it on the grated apple and grated onion. in this recipe as well, the instructions were a bit lacking especially about the ginger, they gave no instructions on what to do with it, grate it, sliver it, or slice it?

Do people check these books or what? :angry:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Kentaro is about as far from the Smap guys as you can get. He is very quiet and reserved and you rarely seee him on TV. He is a single guy in his mid to late 20's (my guess) and most of his recipes are simple but good food for either one or two people. He has a lot of "one dish" meals like donburis, curries, sauteed meats with simple sides.

I think I saw him on Iron Chef...he was very young, but very accomplished, as I remember?

I think they also mentioned that his mother was a very respected chef or food writer.

Is this the same Kentaro?

Challah back!

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Yes that was probably him.

Did he look like this:

http://woman.nifty.com/kentaro/

sorry his homepage is all in Japanese.

Yes his mother is a very accomplished chef, Kobayashi Katsuyo (I believe that is her first name), they have even written some books together and appeared on TV together.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Kobayashi Katsuyo was one of my favorite cookbook authors when I first came to Japan. I even recall references in those books to cooking with her then small son!

Kobayashi Katsuyo had a very practical approach -- she never accepted "the right way" if her experience didn't prove it, and she was always keen on ways to make it easier to produce good family food efficiently and easily.

Kentaro's food also seems to be very practical, but more wide-ranging and gutsy!

Regards

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I made the last two recipes I listed in the above post and although they were both good, I had a couple complaints.

In the cashew sauce there was an ungodly amount of tonbanjian (Chinese chile sauce) even halving the amount left you tasting nothing else. Also in the instructions, they neglect to tell you exactly how to make the sauce. They tell you to grind the cashews and then the next step has you adding the sauce to the cabbage. I mean it isn't hard to amke a sauce but they don't even say anything like mix the ingerdients together.

The second recipe was good too, but next time I won't bother with the mustard, instead base it on the grated apple and grated onion. in this recipe as well, the instructions were a bit lacking especially about the ginger, they gave no instructions on what to do with it, grate it, sliver it, or slice it?

Do people check these books or what? :angry:

I just made another recipe from this book (Shunju), the kani sembei or crab crisps as they call them in English.

They were actually quite good, with no mistakes in the recipe, thoughthey looked absolutely nothing like the picture.

The two friends I made them with, all agreed this was definitely a man's style tsumami (a snack with drinks), good food to have some alcohol with.

The are basically a mixture of cream cheese and crab spread onto a spring roll wrappers and then baked, the taste was quite similar (as are the ingredients) to what I used to eat in the US as crab rangoon. Those were just wontons filled with cream cheese and crab and then deep fried. I prefer them deep fried to baked.

As to Kobayashi Katsuyo, I really think she helped define current Japanese (homestyle) and was a great influence to many women.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 3 months later...

Revisiting this thread:

One thing I've always wondered is why there are so few Japanese cookbooks, relative to the popularity of the cuisine, in English. I only know of three books that attempt a fairly comprehensive survey of everyday cuisine, at least among those widely available in the U.S.: the late Shizuo Tsuji's Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, Elizabeth Andoh's At Home with Japanese Cooking, and the new book by Hiroko Shimbo (I forget the title). You would expect a lot more than that. Andoh is the most prolific of them, with three cookbooks to her name, all excellent, all I believe unfortunately out of print. If you think about all the Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Thai, etc. cookbooks out there, the shortage is startling, given that there are probably as more Japanese restaurants in the United States as Indian or Thai. While there are very few Korean cookbooks out there, Korean cooking is of yet not nearly as popular as Japanese in the English-speaking world, particularly when you get outside of the major cities.

I've heard it suggested that Japanese cooking is too difficult to make at home, but I don't know why this should be the case. Even the titles of Tsuji and Andoh's books seem to reflect the notion that they have to overcome some kind of mental block that Westerners have about cooking Japanese at home.

To the community: what experiences do you have with Japanese cookbooks, and do you feel that Japanese home cookery is more or less difficult than that of some of the other cuisines I've mentioned above.

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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It is an interesting point you have and very true.

I wonder if people just equate Japanese food with sushi/sashimi and a couple of nabes.

Home cooked Japanese food is really very simple and a lot healthier then most Western foods.

I often find when I am pressed for time and need a quick dinner, I make Japanese food.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I will probably be shot for saying this...but I own about 4 SMAP cookbooks....There's actually a really good pasta recipe in there : a napolitan (blasphemy, I know!) with a mascarpone cheese drizzle...so what I'll do is include it and let you all be the judge (remember! it's yoshoku!!)....but seriously, I've enjoyed the "Orange Page" series (beautiful pics, a must for cookbooks). So here's the recipe, I'm translating it from japanese, so hopefully it makes sense.

SMAP Napolitan cream cheese sauce pasta

ingredients (serves 2)

>Special ketchup

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

100g ketchup

200g canned whole tomato

1 bay leaf

>napolitan

8 mushrooms, sliced

1 red or green pepper, sliced into rings

4 spears asparagus

1/3 bunch spinach

1 onion, sliced

100g bacon, sliced into 1cm pieces

salt, pepper to taste

100mL special ketchup (see above)

160g spaghetti

2 tablespoon pasta water

>cream cheese sauce

100g mascarpone cheese

50mL milk

INSTRUCTIONS:

Special ketchup:

1) in a saucepan, lightly saute garlic, add ketchup, tomato, bay leaf, cook over low heat for minutes (I used my kitchen shears to roughly cut the tomato)

cream cheese sauce:

1) melt mascarpone cheese with the milk in a saucepan over medium heat

napolitan:

1) asparagus, diagonal cut into 4 parts each, cook in salted boiling water

2) spinach, precook in salted boiling water

3) cook spaghetti

4) in a fry pan, saute bacon in olive oil, add onion

5) add mushroom, pepper, asparagus, spinach, salt & pepper to taste

6) add special ketchup and mix well

7) add 2 tablespoon boiling water that you used to make the spaghetti into the pan and add the spaghetti, mix well

8) serve with cream cheese sauce drizzled on top

9) enjoy and don't think about where the recipe come from....

:smile: goyatofu

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goyatofu,

If you are female I have no problem with you buying SMAP cookbooks, heck I would problem buy them just so I could look at Kimu-taku all day long.

I have watched their show a couple times and they actually cook some decent stuff.

If you are male.................... :blink::biggrin:

I think I will give the recipe a try.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 1 month later...

I have both the Tsuji Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art and Hiroko Shimbo's The Japanese Kitchen, but let's not forget the classic (English language book) from Time Life - Foods of the World Series - The Cooking of Japan and its softcover recipe companion. They're great books for breaking into the cooking of another culture...in 1969, they were writing about rice cookers, dashi and tofu, which at the time were all probably quite unique for the people these books were marketed to!

Interestingly enough, the consulting chef for this book was Morimoto (from Osaka's famous Kitcho Restaurant), and according to the blurb, he opened his own restaurant in New York in 1964.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Interestingly enough, the consulting chef for this book was Morimoto (from Osaka's famous Kitcho Restaurant), and according to the blurb, he opened his own restaurant in New York in 1964.

Share your enthusiasm about the Time-Life books. They were my introduction to the world of food. . .

Not sure I understood your note regarding Morimoto from the Time-Life books - or are you wondering if he is related to the former Iron Chef with the same family name? Not sure, but have never heard any info to that effect. Believe Kitcho was at one point considering opening a branch in the U.S. but this never came about. As a kaiseki "chain" it is considered much more staid than e.g. Shunju, though I believe Patricia Wells once included the Kyoto home branch on her list of the world's ten best restaurants.

One bizarre factoid about the Time-Life books. Bando Mitsugoro, the gourmand Kabuki actor featured in the Japan volume, later made the news by dying after insisting that the chef at a fugu restaurant serve him the liver, which is supposed to be thrown away for good reason. Apparently he was the last recorded person to die of fugu poisoning in a licensed restaurant - over 20 years ago. Of course, a lot of people (particularly fishermen) have died since them trying to prepare do-it-yourself fugu.

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Anyone know of a good sushi book, all the one's published in english sold here in the US aren't very detailed or informative at all, more for beginners really.

In desperation bought one published in Japanese at kinokuniya, only prob is I can't read the darn thing but just looking at all the pretty pictures was worth the $50!!! :biggrin:

Is there a good sushi book in english someone can recommend that I can can order from amazon.jp?

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If you've ever been to walden at the bargain books section then you can find these books that are 5.99. There is one of them called Japanese Cooking. Its a black and tan book. It tells everything you need to know about Japanese cooking.

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