Top positive review
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Model of the excellent coffee table cookbook.
on October 29, 2005
'nobu THE cookbook' by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa is Nobu's first cookbook and as he has a new title on the bookstands now, I thought it was high time I got around to reviewing it.
For starters, I must say I rank photographic flash way down on my list of criteria for a good cookbook. I have very little use for cookbooks used to grace a coffee table, since I have no coffee table. So, If impressive looking cookbooks from famous chefs is your cup of tea, then this is an excellent book. Otherwise, it doesn't do a lot for me.
For starters, while the book deals almost exclusively with fish cookery and raw fish dishes, the introductory material on techniques, especially knife techniques is pretty thin. The story on sushi prep is that it takes years to learn everything you need to know about good knife techniques, and we are given but a half a page without even some pictures of the types of knives used in the three techniques described.
I will say that most of the recipes are relatively simple, as long as you have the right skills, but the ingredients for a lot of the dishes are somewhere between difficult and impossible to find. The poster boy for this state of affairs is abalone. Throughout my whole life, I have never seen fresh abalone available on the east coast fishmonger's counter. Now, I suspect this Pacific shellfish is endangered almost to the point of extinction. But, as Bob Kinkaid so eloquently says in his cookbook, high end restaurants can get things which are simply beyond the reach of the average shopper.
If this were a book on classic Japanese cookery, I would have a higher opinion of it, but it is a song to the virtues of Nobu Matsuhisa. It is a very pretty song, well graced with paeons from business partner Robert DeNiro, best bud, Martha Stewart, and about twenty testimonial blurbs from the culinary greats.
If your thing is good books on and about celebrity chefs, buy this book. But, if your interest is Japanese cooking in general, start with Shizuo Tsuji's 'Japanese Cooking, A Simple Art'.