Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking
Food manga fans, if you want to know more about how to make classic-but-achievable Japanese meals, Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking is the guide for you. (I particularly recommend it to readers of What Did You Eat Yesterday?) Iron Chef Masahuru Morimoto (aided by J.J. Goode) shares basic dishes in a way that makes them seem both delicious and possible for an American home cook to prepare.
The images are lovely, making me want to try making everything. Morimoto’s notes educate the reader about the philosophies behind Japanese food combinations, giving great understanding about how to put together dishes into meals balanced in taste and technique. He has named his book after Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the hope of similarly changing the way Americans think about another cuisine.
Sections are organized by cooking style:
- Dashi — making basic stock for soups and sauces
- Gohan — rice and things to go with it, such as furikake and rice ball fillings, as well as how to make temaki, sushi hand rolls, and my new favorite, a Hawaiian poke-style rice bowl
- Supu — soups, a part of almost every meal
- Yaku — grilling and broiling, including yakitori skewers, gyoza, a more authentic teriyaki, and delicious-sounding marinated fish recipes
- Musu — steaming, including shumai (shrimp dumplings)
- Niru — simmering, including nikujaga (beef stew) and oden (hot pot)
- Itame Ru — stir-frying, where we get into a couple of noodle dishes, although they also have their own chapter
- Ageru — frying, including tempura, croquettes, and tonkatsu (pork cutlet)
- Finishing up with dressed vegetables and various quick pickles
A lovely touch in keeping with the book’s theme are the bits of “Japanese grandmother wisdom”, small insights into tips that make recipes easier or explain particular steps. I also liked the inclusion of adopted recipes, such as a Japanese twist on egg drop soup and their approach to hamburger steak and curry, making each dish unique.
Overall, this cookbook makes it seem possible for me to participate in a cuisine I love reading about. Even if I don’t try any of the tasty-sounding dishes, I have a new appreciation that will benefit my understanding of the food manga I enjoy reading. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)