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"Japanese Farm Food"... also any great Korean cookbooks?


Merkinz
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Hey everyone.

I've been thinking of picking up a couple of Japanese and Korean cookbooks but have no idea whats out there. I picked up "Every Grain of Rice" this year and cook from it at least once a week (and have done so since it was released!). I love her style and I love the ease of the recipes (although I definitely could manage more complexity). I'm planning on picking up her other books but am after some advice on Japanese cookbooks.

Specifically I was looking at 'Japanese Farm Food' by Nancy Singleton Hachisu. Does anyone have any comment on this book? It looks good!

As for any other Japanese and Korean cookbooks (I have Momofuku by the way and love it, if you could call the Korean) I'd be interested in something recent, well produced and a book that is also interesting to read.

Thanks in advance.

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I have to recommend The Uchi Cookbook. It is no means traditional, but it is the cookbook from my favorite pair of restaurants (Uchi and Uchiko) here in Austin Texas. There's a lot of sea food (a whole section on sushi), but there's a lot of other good stuff too, including short ribs, pork belly, etc. All of the dishes have a strong foundation from Japanese cuisine (the chef of the restaurants, Tyson Cole, studied in Japan), but also feature strong influences from American cuisine to make unique flavor combinations. For example, one dish (my favorite) features Wagyu short ribs with a peach-kimchi emulsion and heirloom peaches.

If your into modernist-style cooking the book also features a bit of those types of techniques (sous vide, non-traditional thickeners, etc.) but doesn't go overboard like some places. The dessert section is among the best I have ever cooked from as well, although it is definitely more similar to any new-American style restaurant than traditional Japanese cooking.

A sample of this book can be viewed here.

Edited by Baselerd (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey I ran into the farm food book entirely randomly at the bookstore. I thought it was really really interesting.

I blogged about the entire bookstore trip, but to focus on the Hachisu book particularly this is what I noted down:

Japanese Farm Food (Nancy Singleton Hachisu). Annoyingly I forgot to take a picture of this one for some reason - so I've nicked one off the web instead. But don't hold that against it this is a great book. Basically Cali girl goes to Japan for an exchange. Marries a local farmer/cowboy. Likes on the farm in Japan, teaches Japanese food and writes about it. Sounds like a recipe for disaster but its not - this is a brilliant, vibrant book which gives you all the Japanese home cooking basics with a fun twist. Interesting also she got famed American cookbook author (and Robuchon groupie) Patricia Wells to supply the foreword - a mark of quality in this case.

It was the sort of book which shouldn't really have been that special - random expat housewife writing about Japanese home food right? But I was very impressed by the stuff she wrote, layout etc. Quite hard to put it into words here, but if you see it in the store and check it out you should see what I mean. I def think its one worth picking up for the holiday season.

Ta

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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  • 2 weeks later...

Right, I picked up Japanese Farm Food recently and am in two minds about it:

Firstly I'm impressed with the recipes! I was really looking for that next step in Japanese home cooking after sushi. I love the simplicity of Japanese cooking and I love the flavors of Japanese food. I wanted a place to go for 'everyday' Japanese food and I feel like this book really delivers in this sense. It is well sectioned and seems well balanced.

Secondly I'm quite unimpressed with the tone. There is a very heavy "Buy Organic Food" tone and it can come across as quite condescending in places! She takes every chance she can to pump "Organic" in the general text of the book and then in recipe ingredients the word "Organic" has been placed in front of almost every ingredient (Do I really need to spend more money just to get 'Organic Sugar'? No.). I feel like all of this talk could have been contained in a chapter at the start of the book and it wouldn't have bothered me so much but it is on just about every page I turn to.

So to sum up: I got the book of recipes I was looking for! I feel that there are alot of recipes in here that I will try and I can already see that some will become staples in our house (the true test of a cookbook for me by the way). However the tone of the book has put me off reading the 'non-recipe text', I can only take so much 'food religion' before I lose interest.

Edited by Merkinz (log)
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There was something in her tone that I didn't like, either, but overall the book is a keeper. She preaches that NorCal gospel which can grate on my nerves; I thought it was funny she mentioned the seafood at Cook's in Menlo Park, which is really nothing special (I live here). At any rate, those are some small gripes on what otherwise seems like a fine book.

I picked up a copy of The Korean Table recently. Haven't cooked anything from it, but it seems like it has potential to be a good everyday cookbook.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The book is OK but the recipes are fairly simple and I suspect will suffer if one doesnt have access to the kind of fresh-from-the-farm produce she does. Perhaps I'd be more excited if I lived in SanFran but here in Tampa, good quality produce is not always easily found :(

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I ordered the book, but it was out of stock on Amazon. Waiting for it to ship out....I didn't realize it emphasizes organic everything. That's pretty obnoxious (I try to buy only organic meat, but I don't eat much red meat or chicken anyway, compared to fish)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have to recommend The Uchi Cookbook.

The dessert section is among the best I have ever cooked from as well, although it is definitely more similar to any new-American style restaurant than traditional Japanese cooking.

A sample of this book can be viewed here.

Baselerd, I really liked the dessert from Uchi you posted about in the pastry forum. So I came over to ask some questions about the cookbook. I don't regularly eat Japanese style food, and my only interest in this cookbook would be the dessert section. Could you please elaborate what this section contains? How many dessert recipes are there? And are these doable without modernist cuisine equipment?

I checked amazon and expected to see the Look Inside feature to check the contents page, but this book does not have it, and the sample is all too short. I will appreciate any comments and impressions on the book.

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I have to recommend The Uchi Cookbook.

The dessert section is among the best I have ever cooked from as well, although it is definitely more similar to any new-American style restaurant than traditional Japanese cooking.

A sample of this book can be viewed here.

Baselerd, I really liked the dessert from Uchi you posted about in the pastry forum. So I came over to ask some questions about the cookbook. I don't regularly eat Japanese style food, and my only interest in this cookbook would be the dessert section. Could you please elaborate what this section contains? How many dessert recipes are there? And are these doable without modernist cuisine equipment?

I checked amazon and expected to see the Look Inside feature to check the contents page, but this book does not have it, and the sample is all too short. I will appreciate any comments and impressions on the book.

I dont have the book, but being an austinite I have to say if the book includes the recipe for their "fried milk" dessert its a must own. Seriously the best dessert Ive ever had.

Actually, a lot of things Ive had from uchi are the "best ________ Ive ever had". Uchi would hold its own in any city, its as good as anything in NYC, Chicago, or SF. We cant really say that about any other place locally.

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The book has 12 desserts, each of them feature 4+ components and are very modern in plating and appearance. I've probably cooked about half of them, and they're among the best desserts I've ever made (or had...). There isn't any major modernist equipment requirement, a few recipes use some modern thickeners such as agar, but nothing too exotic. You'll definitely need an ice cream maker for the dessert section. A few of the meat dishes call for Sous Vide. Here's a few of my favorites:

-Coffee Panna Cotta with Mango Yolk, Mango Tuiles, and Coffee Soil

-Iced Milk Sherbert, Fried Milk, Soft Chocolate Milk, Toasted Milk Powder

-Jizake Creme Caramel, Brown Butter Sorbet, Ginger Consomme

-Peanut Butter Semifreddo with Apple Miso Sorbet and Golden Raisin Puree

Edited by Baselerd (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Book just arrived - barely cracked it open but looks very impressive, and just the sort of recipes I've been looking for. Already read the word organic about 10 times in the first few pages though, yeesh.

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