16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
When it comes to Japanese recipe books, especially from a notable chef, part of me usually gets very excited and the other half me feels a bit of skepticism.
Having reviewed many Japanese culinary books from notable chef's to at-home mothers who wanted to share their own recipes, when it comes to chef's, you usually get beautiful coffee table books with beautiful photography but when it comes to the actual recipe and ingredients, these books are tailored to those who are practicing chef's and have the cutlery to partake in the dish, those with access to Japanese ingredients.
But for some, they are so world renown, especially from traveling the globe that they use the finest ingredients that they have come in contact with and it's how they create their dishes for their well-known restaurant typically reserved for the haute bourgeoisie and those that are looking for delicious food with the best ingredients.
And it's great to read how some chef's accomplish such dishes, may they get the spice from India, Malaysia, or somewhere in Japan that even local chef's have no access to. But that's how things are and the fact they are willing to share their culinary secrets is wonderful but for those of us living in the United States without access to a Japan Town, China Town let alone an Asian store that specializes in spices, cooking these dishes may prove to be too difficult.
So, when I finished going through "Japanese Home Cooking with Master Chef Murata", needless to say, I had a smile on my face. A smile because here is a book from a master chef from Japan, very well known and yet, he doesn't feel the need to make things difficult for the reader and those wanting to learn how to cook Japanese home cooking. He keeps things simple, basic and there is no request for one to have access to hard-to-find spices. All he asks is for one to have access to soy sauce, chicken broth, corn starch, possibly sake, peanut butter and other ingredients that you can find at your local supermarket.
Although not hardbound, you get clear instructions to the dish along with full color photos. Although some may have been used to hardbound Japanese cook books, "Japanese Home Cooking" is still a wonderful book from the master chef. Want to learn how to prepare seared rice balls with bacon soy sauce? No problem. He teaches you how to make the marinated sauce (2 tbsp of soy sauce, 4 tbsp of sake, 1 tbsp sugar) and mix this with the bacon in a pan over low heat and stirring until all liquid is gone. Then add the lemon peel, lemon juice and toasted sesame seeds. Then you get your rice and put 1/4 of rice on an 8 inch plastic wrap and place the bacon mixture to the center of the rice, shape the rice to a ball and create a patty. Then unwrap the rice ball and place on a pan and sear until well brown on both sides. So, easy to do!
And this goes for plenty of the recipes featured throughout this book. There are plenty of Japanese home cooked meals featured in this book. May it be a salad, sauteed dish, deep-fried dish, steamed dish, simmered dish, hot pots, rice and noodles and soups. From tempura to sukiyaki, tofu recipes to supplemental recipes on how to make your own rice to making a dashi stock and sauces.
I have to say that this is one Japanese cook book that I absolutely loved because Chef Murata kept things simple. No need to make things complicated and I like it when chefs can at least put themselves in the shoes of the consumer and knowing that not everyone, especially around the world have access to the best spices or access to hard-to-find vegetables in America or the other country that typically found in East Asia or other countries. And personally, I respect that a master chef is willing to take his time to reach out to that consumer for home cooking, even though they are so used to making extravagant dishes for their own customers at their restaurants.
"Japanese Home Cooking with Master Chef Murata" is clearly for those of us who are passionate about Japanese food, but food done easily with clear and concise recipes and easy-to-find ingredients in which anyone can find at a local supermarket.
You rarely find these type of cookbooks, especially coming from a well-renown master chef from Japan, created and tailored for a person regardless of cooking experience and location. He breaks things down simply and makes sure that eating Japanese food doesn't have to be so difficult. Murata wants you to experience, experiment and the better you get, try your own variations from the recipes he has provided in this cookbook.
A magnificent, user-friendly Japanese cookbook and easily deserving of five stars!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2012
I really like this cookbook. About a year ago, I bought two Japanese cookbooks - this one, and Basic Japanese Cooking by Vasallo. Now, a year later, I find that this is the book I turn to. The recipes really are quick and easy, and almost all of those I've tried are keepers. It's simple comfort food Japanese style.
However, I have to grade it down a star because it seems to contain a few errors. There are at least three recipes that call TBSPs. when it should be teaspoons. If your wasabi paste is anything like what I bought at the Japanese grocery store, you shouldn't put a TBSP in any of these dishes! A half tsp. was enough to give Onion and Crispy Bacon Salad a good kick - The recipe called for 1 TBSP. The 2 TBSP called for in Daikon with Wasabi-Soy dressing would blow your head off. And 3 TBSP. sugar would have turned Chicken and Mushroom Rice into a dessert. These are probably errors that crept in during the translation. If you have enough cooking sense to know if something seems way off, you won't have a problem.
I am delighted to have a bunch of delicious new dishes in my weeknight repertoire. The following ranged from very good to great and are on my list to make again:
Potato Kimpira with Bacon (awesome)
Green Beans with Sesame Sauce
Kabocha Squash and Bacon Stew
Sweet and Sour Chicken Wings
Onion and Crispy Bacon Salad
Chicken and Mushroom Rice (with adjustments - more chicken, mushrooms, soy sauce, onion and 3 tsp. sugar.)
Chicken and Egg on Rice (sauté the onions first)
Salmon and Miso Hot Pot
That's a lot of successes from a 60 recipe cookbook! The only recipes I did not like were Daikon with Wasabi-Soy Dressing and Chicken & Onion Noodle Soup.
One last plus is that every recipe is accompanied by a full-page photograph of the finished product.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2011
When I first purchased this book and skimmed through it I was a bit disappointed. At first glance, it looked like a brief collection of very run-of-the-mill recipes 'dumbed-down' for western readers. After careful perusal however, I realized that this assessment was hasty and unfair. Indeed, although the recipes are generally familiar to most with experience of Japanese cuisine, the author has selected dishes that would be within the repertoire of average Japanese cooks and, in some cases, even be comfort food. Likewise, far from being 'dumbed-down' recipes, the author has made his instruction straightforward so that they are not just easy to follow for westerners but would likely accurately mimic the procedures employed in a Japanese home kitchen rather than a high-end restaurant. The main merit of the book is that it doesn't simply present dishes that are Japanese-looking, or vaguely Japanese-tasting, but has instead used simple ingredients to produce results that preserve the essential spirit of Japanese cuisine. The book is simple enough for novices but I would say that it is more likely to be appreciated by those with some Japanese cooking experience already.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2014
i borrowed this book from the library and liked it so much i bought it. the recipes are super easy and yummy. there are some no cook dishes that have been my go to dinners on busy nights. nice pictures, clear directions. i did have to buy a couple of ingredients that i didn't have on hand-- bonito flakes and sake.
on September 29, 2015
The author is the chef at the world famous Kikunoi restaurant in Kyoto, so he really knows what he's doing. Just tried the fried rice and the seared tofu--both recipes were easy and delicious, so looking forward to trying more recipes in the book. For those of you who want more authenticity, substitute the chicken broth specified in many of the recipes with dashi.