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The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen: Inspired New Tastes Hardcover – August 8, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA (August 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770029497
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770029492
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 7.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,486,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Japanese and fusion are two cuisines that make me nervous. One is daunting and the other usually a disaster. But the best new book I've cooked from in months dabbles in both-and nothing is lost in translation.... A mad-scientist approach...amazing...gorgeously photographed.... Gower borrows concepts and tastes to produce Western food with just enough Eastern exoticism...lively...a wonderment...borders on brilliant...At a time when originality seems to be the missing ingredient in far too many cookbooks, The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen is a good cure for the comfort-food blues." -The Los Angeles Times

"California native Eric Gower recently returned after a decade or so in Japan exploring aspects of Japanese cooking - using shiso, ginger, sake and tofu, and fresh produce, fish and meats. Now he's put the results of his own experiments into a book The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen, full of easy recipes for American home cooks to try." -Associated Press

"Curious cooks will find surprisingly wonderful flavors in the Breakaway Japanese Kitchen by Eric Gower, who lived in rural Japan for ten years. His experiments with local staples like shiso leaves, ginger, and sake have led to such pitch-perfect dishes as 'Udon with Fig & Herbs' and 'Edamame Mint Pesto'." -Fine Cooking

"Eric Gower's cooking freely mixes Japanese ingredients and Western ideas, but don't call it fusion. He thinks of his cooking as a break with sometimes limiting traditions, and the title of his cookbook-The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen: Inspired New Tastes- perfectly expresses that philosophy." -Sunset Magazine

"Chef and author Eric Gower can whip up a fine-tasting Japanese dish....The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen, his latest cookbook, melds Japanese and Western ingredients and techniques into altogether new tastes...Gower's recipes would likely be considered renegade in Japan: there's scallops with miso and ruby grapefruit, and udon (wheat noodles) served with a sauce of figs and herbs, to name some combinations ... but even 'total neophytes' can follow the recipes." -Stars & Stripes

"Japanese food is associated with strict rules about flavor, balance and visual harmony, but Gower's book takes a relaxed approach. The recipes are a breeze to make; many of them can be put together in 15 minutes... and the lively flavors are here in the recipes without all the fuss." -The Globe & Mail (Toronto)

"Eric Gower uses an interesting mixture of American and Japanese ingredients to create unusual dishes with a Japanese flair: tofu salmon mouse shitake pesto. The results are more Californian than Japanese, but Gower's recipes are clear and ingredients are available in most American supermarkets. The photographs by Watanabe display a Japanese style of presentation that is both aesthetic and appealing." -Persimmon Magazine

"A bit like fusion approached from the other side, Eric Gower's The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen has its foundation on the classic tastes and presentations of Japan. However, Gower has given himself permission to play.... Gower's dishes are almost all exceedingly simple, his instructions direct and concise." -January Magazine ("Best Cookbooks of the Year Issue," fall 2003)

"It's easy to dismiss books, ideas, and recipes if one is unfamiliar with the ingredients and unwilling to try something new. This should not be the case with Eric Gower's The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen. After living in Japan for 10 years, Gower returned to California and started experimenting with the widely available once exotic ingredients such as soy, ginger, sake, and tofu. The results are not only terrific, they are healthy and most can be made quickly and easily....The secret of all the recipes is the author's imagination in combining Japanese and Western favorites to produce completely new tastes. Watanabe's photographs are as inspirational and mouthwatering as the recipes. Here's a case where fusion is not confusion." -Culinary Thymes

"Gower's cooking philosophy has two main tenets: first -eating healthy, delicious food does not mean you need to spend hours in the kitchen; second-it is not a sacrilege to experiment with Japanese food... Japanese cooking is rigid in terms of which ingredients can go together. Gower bends the rules with each recipe. Cooking his way is all about combining and emphasizing the flavors of the ingredients...The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen is an excellent source of deliciously seditious dishes to delight your palette and amaze your Japanese and other friends." -Eat Magazine

"The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen by Eric Gower is his modernist/contemporary interpretation of Japanese food. The dishes are the result of a passion for good home-cooked food and experimentation." -The Global Gourmet

"These dishes add modernity to the Eastern staples of rice and tofu. Seemingly easy and quick to prepare, they will suit anyone who truly enjoys healthy, natural, and tasty food. Titles like 'Smoked Salmon with Edamame,''Cherry and Shiso,'and 'Beet Salad with Ginger, Smoked Trout, and Walnuts,' reveal how Gower 'breaks away' from the standard repertoire of our daily bread." -Kyoto Journal

"In The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen...Gower combined literary easy reading with an imaginative culinary brain unrestricted by formality...As traditional cookbooks go, this publication fails completely. It fails so gloriously and in such impressive style however, that it fully belongs on the bookshelf or, better still, open on the kitchen counter." Mainichi Daily News

"This is not a Japanese cookbook, but rather an eclectic selection of dishes incorporating Japanese staples like soy, persimmons and shiso with the olive oil, butter and fresh herbs such as mint and coriander found in a Western kitchen....The book gives a much-needed reminder that there's a whole lot more you can do with any given ingredient if you leave the straight and narrow conventions behind and try something new." Kansai Time Out Magazine

"The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen is a lovingly presented, hands-on cookbook with creative ideas for simple and fast Japanese-style interpretations of Western food. For readers less familiar with Japanese cooking, the book is certain to offer interesting new ways of adding an exotic accent to the meals they serve, while for Japanese amateur chefs it presents novel approaches to food using the ingredients they have always had around them." Skyward Magazine

"A flick through Gower's cookbook proves that he follows a passion for flavor rather than fancy style or presentation. Not once does he call his work fusion cuisine, or California-style, and thankfully there's not a single funny-named, rainbow-colored seaweed roll in sight. Instead Gower's introduction is down-to-earth, and his numerous recipes are simple, quick and unpretentiously minimalist. He focuses on unusual flavors... Breakaway Japanese Kitchen is a casual and un-daunting book that proves Japanese ingredients are versatile." Japan Times

"I discovered a new approach to tofu and other Japanese ingredients in a cookbook called The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen by Eric Gower... His book has transformed my view of tofu. I used to think of it as a soft, inert, white blob. Now it is a gourmet treat." Shukan ST

From the Publisher

The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen is a coup d'etat. Its elegant, easily prepared, and highly original dishes combine Japanese and Western elements in ways that produce completely new tastes.

Author and chef Eric Gower artfully combines staple ingredients or seasonings from Japanese cooking-like edamame, shiitake, ginger, or soy sauce-with the easygoing, flexible approach of his native California. His dishes are born of passion for good home-cooked food and experimentation over 15 years spent living in Japan. He achieves his big flavors with citrus fruits, vinegars, ginger, shallots, fresh herbs, and plenty of coarsely ground black pepper.

Edamame Mint Pesto with almonds and garlic is an aromatic and satisfying departure from the usual basil. Tofu Salmon Mousse, lightly flavored with walnuts, is a smooth, rich-tasting spread for thinly-sliced toast and perfect for a Sunday brunch. Scallops with Miso, Ginger, and Ruby Grapefruit is an unforgettable blend of flavors, with citrus offsetting the deeper miso.

Many of the dishes can be made in ten minutes, and can be paired with a salad and bread to make a meal.

While incorporating Asian ingredients, the author tailors the recipes directly to American kitchens, and frequently offers suggestions for substitutions, such as fresh tarragon in place of shiso seeds.

The food is beautifully photographed by Fumihiko Watanabe, photographer of Nobu: The Cookbook, which was nominated for the 2002 James Beard award for best food photography.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 23 customer reviews
Very easy to prepare, and awesome results!
Reading this cook book makes you hungry, and inspires you to get into the kitchen and try a new recipe.
themarts, California
Eric Gower has outdone himself with this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By C. Adair on May 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was getting a little tired of tiny, pretty portions of subtle food. I was starting to lose faith in ever becoming anything but a fair fried-chicken cook, when WHAM! I was hit with a cookbook that delivers flavor and elegance. I first saw one of Eric Gower's recipes in an issue of Sunset magazine - scallops with miso, ginger and ruby grapefruit. I followed the directions carefully, and I had about the best meal of my life. All of a sudden, I was a good cook! I bought the book -Breakaway Japanese Kitchen- and by now, I've made just about everything in it. I can now produce all kinds of robust, Asian-ish dishes that burst with flavor and joy and abudance. Garlic, tarragon, ginger, lemon and mint and blended here and sprinked there. And, I've learned that with these recipes, you really can make the substitutes that Grower suggests. It's all good. It's all easy. I understand Grower is publishing a new cookbook soon. I can hardly wait.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Wilder on September 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As a guest in Eric's home several times over the past nine or ten years, I've seen Eric blossom from an excellent cook to a truly inspired one. And, recently, from the other side (a host's point of view) incorporating his unique recipes and their underlying themes of simplicity and uncompromising commitment to quality and taste into my menus has resulted in many compliments from guests.
Their palates ranging from the dullest and most provincial to the most jaded have been awakened and they have literally cried out with sensuous moans of delight.
Unlike previous parties where I have been able to take most of the credit for the recipes, I've had to give the credit where it was due.
Plus, the recipes from The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen, with their accompanying luscious photographs, are easy to re-create and given me time to enjoy the marvelous food along with my guests.
My favorites for parties:
Ceviche Japonesa --It works equally well with salmon instead of scallops. Chunk the seafood and make the dressing in advance, so all you need to do before serving is to mix in the dressing.
Broiled Pork loin with Dates, Umeboshi and Walnuts --the secret to this dish is not to broil it but to braise it!
Mint-Cilantro Udon -- making the sauce ahead of time and cooking fresh pasta just before serving makes this a super easy dish that is as close to perfectly refreshing as any pasta dish could possibly be.
Pan-fried Rib-eye with Ginger and Shallots -- an excellent party dish that does not suffer from further simplification by combining the first sauce-making step with the last one in the final stage. This way, you can also give the meat resting time before slicing it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Barratt on March 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I placed this book on my wish list based on the strength of one recipe ("Boozy Potatoes") which I'd picked up off a food blog. It was subtle, delicious, and simple -- blending japanese flavors (sake, soy) into a medium I'd only approached with a more western palate in the past.

Now, having received the book as a gift, I can see that the Boozy Potatoes recipe was just the tip of the iceberg. After reading the book cover to cover in one sitting (it's not large, but it's densely packed with goodness) I broke out 3 of the recipes the following night. Preparation was easy, and the flavors popped, there was minimal fat and salt -- and best of all each dishes flavors were incredibly well balanced. I would have been happy to be served any of them at a restaurant. Some of his simple ideas (make a sauce by carmelizing shallots/thyme, then reducing rice vinegar) led to explosive flavors.

The only 'glitch' in the whole process, as mentioned by some of the other reviewers, is sourcing ingredients. Living in Southern California I thankfully have access to some great Asian markets, but since so many of the recipes require Shiso, (which I presume must be gotten fresh) it means planning ahead if I want to prepare many of them. Also -- if you plan to buy this book, you'll need a blender or a food processor. It seems to be by far his favorite kitchen tool! (Not that I mind, the results are spectacular.)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Randy Ulland on November 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen is an excellent little cookbook with a passionate ethos that speaks to the Michelin star in all of us.
Imagine Alice Waters meets Nigel Slater at a Zen barbeque, without the celebrity cook idolatry. A nice twist on Asia-Pacific, emphasizing citrus, vinegars and lots of fresh herbs. Try Crab with Lime Ponzu and Chipotle, Persimmon Yogurt Salad with Ginger, Red Onion and Mint, or Broiled Pork Loins with Dates, Umeboshi (pickled plum), and Walnuts. Gower brings more of a trans-cultural than cross-cultural quality to the kitchen - despite the Japanese inspiration - with his focus on fun, improvisation, spontaneity.
This slender book is beautifully produced, with economic and lively writing, salivating photography and well-organized contents, glossary and index.
Gower's book will appeal to the confident and unconfident cook alike, and especially the jester accustomed to breaking the rules. Anyone looking to break from tradition may want to give thanks to his Soy-Brined Roast Turkey with Ruby Grapefruit and Fennel Gravy. Or, do as I plan and spike Santa's gravy with a fine dusting of minced Habanero.
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