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The Japanese Kitchen: 250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Common Press (November 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558321764
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558321762
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.5 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While Asian flavors have long been fashionable in the U.S., it is perhaps the hipness of sushi and familiarity of the Tepanyaki style that have been a catalyst for the recent popularity of Japanese cuisine. The author, a veteran cooking-school instructor and food writer, offers a well-rounded introduction to the rich heritage of Japanese cooking (complete with historical, cultural and personal observations from her own childhood). "Nutrition, taste and... a spirit of innovation" are Shimbo's ambitions with this comprehensive and intriguing collection of updated classic and new recipes. Perfect for the Western cook, Shimbo's book explains traditional equipment, techniques and ingredients (although, she says, American cooking implements, and the occasional substituted ingredient, will more than suffice) and how to make such staple elements as tofu. She particularly touts the healthier aspects of Japanese cuisine and offers many simple preparations that support fast-paced lives, including Easy Simmered Chicken and Chestnuts or the quick one-pot meal of Rice, Beef, Burdock Root and Mushrooms made in a rice cooker. Shimbo doesn't disappoint the aficionado, however, with Yakitori grilling, Ponzu Sauce and a far more interesting (and healthy) rendering of ramen than the cellophane-wrapped variety. Based on Japanese home-style cooking, Shimbo's is an indispensable book for the home cook, with recipes such as Chirashizushi and her mother's Green Plum Wine. Nevertheless, Shimbo also shows a fresh modern sensibility by smartly melding Western influences in her own recipes for Clam Chowder (New England meets Edomae style), Lamb StewDwhich she enlivens with misoDand Teriyaki Chicken Roll served on a bed of greens. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Japanese food has conquered America's palate almost as completely as Japanese cars have come to dominate the nation's highways. America's teens, especially, have become fascinated with the joys of sushi, and wasabi vies with salsa as a source of tongue-tingling pleasure. Hiroko Shimbo eruditely introduces the American home cook to The Japanese Kitchen and its centuries-old traditions. Beyond her explicit instructions for expertly preparing sushi, Shimbo offers a host of other recipes that don't require a source of pristine raw seafood to succeed. Noodle dishes, soups, and even a version of roast beef in a sake sauce show the range of edibles turned out by today's Japanese cook. Shimbo takes pains to place each recipe carefully within its context, explicating the history and character of each dish and painstakingly inventorying the varieties of rice and noodles used. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 28 customer reviews
This is my favorite cooking book, for western or japanese food.
F. Edwards
The lack of photographs is more than made up for by the excellent explanations and technique descriptions.
K. Foss
I understand them, what I cook with these recipes is very good.
Claude Lambert

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Susan Porjes on March 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
Books that delve into Japanese cuisine beyond the popular restaurant dishes like sushi and miso soup are few and far between. And in that sense, this book does not disappoint.
Shimbo's recipes are a joy, introducing over 200 wonderful dishes from the Japanese culinary repertoire to Western readers. Agedashi tofu (crisp tofu cubes in tempura sauce), negima-nabe (tuna and leek hotpot), multiple variations on fresh ramen and yakitori skewered chicken, the unusual gyuniku no misozuke (miso-marinated steak), usuyaki senbei (homemade rice crackers), mitsumame (chilled gelatin in syrup), along with modern Japanified Western standards like ebifurai (fried shrimp in a crisp breading), omu raisu (rice-filled omelet), and kurimu korokke (creamy croquettes) are all here. Each recipe is prefaced with a tale about its origin or the author's childhood memories, and clear instructions make preparation of "exotic, foreign" specialties easy.
Less successful are some of Shimbo's unique concoctions: soybean hummus (why?), eel burgers, "creamed" soup made of carrots, celery, garlic, miso, and soy milk. But these misfires, thankfully, can be easily overlooked.
Another of the book's strengths is the author's deep investigation into ingredients.
Shimbo, a native of Japan who teaches frequently at major cooking schools in the United States and Europe, took years to write this book, visiting artisanal food producers across Japan to gather first-hand information about how products are grown and manufactured. Her research is a goldmine for devotees of Japanese food. I've been cooking Japanese food for 25+ years, and am Japanese Food Host at BellaOnline.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Sparks on February 13, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am an American who lived in Japan for several years. I teach Japanese language at the high school level. I have been cooking some of the Japanese foods that I loved in Tokyo, Odawara, Koenji, Fuchu, and other places, for years. This is the first cookbook I've seen that gives clear instructions on how to prepare these foods and explains the ingrediants so that a gaijin (non-Japanese) can understand and execute. She gives great stories of the foods that add to your understanding. When I get done cooking recipies from this book, my food tastes like the foods I ate in Japan.

I recommed this as the first and primary Japanese cooking book in your kitchen.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 27, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the pinnacle of Japanese cooking. Here for our kitchen and table comes this expert advice on enjoying entry into this fascinating cuisine.

It is full of tips and advice on ingredients, techniques and preparation of authentic Japanese dishes.

There is task of finding rare ingredients first, from international cuisine section of supermarket or better yet from gourmet store, or mail order source in this book.

Book is void of photos but has fine drawings which aid in prep techniques and ingredients.

Have tried some new eating experiences from this book and have heard raves of diners who enjoyed the likes of: Japanese Stuffed Pancakes (Okonomiyaki); Swordfish in Yuan Style; Chicken Breast Fillets in a Crust of Mung-Bean Noodles.

There is sizeable section on Sushi.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By jannielane on September 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
I have been reading and using this cookbook for around six months. I like that many recipes are updated versions of traditional Japanese dishes. I also like the fact that Ms. Shimbo offers Western ingredient substitutions in some recipes. The recipes are mostly easy, but sometimes suffer from overly lengthy cooking instructions. I am also irritated by the fact that ingredient names are inconsistent and sometimes needlessly Westernized. For example, konnyaku is an ingredient that is generally available only in Japanese/Asian grocery stores. So why call it taro gelatin, which will cause store clerks to look at me with a blank stare if I ask for it by that name? On the other hand, there are a couple of recipes for "asari" clams. I haven't found a definition of asari clams in the cookbook, so I don't know what makes them different from the littleneck clams available in supermarkets.

For some reason, many of the recipes call for odd measurements, frequently for 7 ounces of protein or vegetables. I assume that this is a conversion from metric, but it's just plain irritating, because it's not a measure used by American food packagers. There are a number of recipes that call for smoked salmon (which, by the way, does not come in 7 ounce packages). What variety of smoked salmon is never stated. I'm guessing that the author means nova lox, but it would be nice if that were stated. A recipe made with lox is going to be substantially different from a recipe made with wood-smoked salmon with skin.

Also problematical are the organization and indexing of this book. I find the "appetizers" section particularly irksome, since many of the recipes state things like "serves 4 as an appetizer and 2 as a main course.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is THE BOOK to have on Japanese home cooking. 250 wonderful true homestyle recipes - I'm in heaven! Not only are the recipes delicious and instructions precise, Shimbo does a good job explaining WHY certain steps must be taken - these hints are great for making anyone a better cook overall, period. My only slight complaint is the lack of photographs - but I understand the cost would have been prohibitive and would have resulted in less recipes being published, so I can live with the tradeoff. A MUST-HAVE for anyone looking to have DELICIOUS, SIMPLE, and HEALTHY food on your table! Being Asian-American, this book allows me to have comfort food I thought I'd never get again after leaving my mom's house!
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