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A Cook's Journey to Japan: Fish Tales and Rice Paddies 100 Homestyle Recipes from Japanese Kitchens Hardcover – April 30, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Feldner, a food enthusiast and Japanophile, offers an intimate and colorful guide to traditional Japanese home cooking in this unique and attractive collection. Focusing on recipes collected from a wide swath of life, from grandmothers to waitresses to fishermen, she highlights often overlooked techniques and ingredients. Most recipes are prefaced by a short story about the individual who shared it, offering glimpses into Japanese culture as well as cuisine. Feldner also offers a short tutorial on cooking tools, a section on techniques, including grating wasabi and pressing tofu, and a particularly helpful guide to essential Japanese ingredients such as burdock and dashi. Recipes are homey and mostly uncomplicated, ranging from pork and leek miso soup and sesame fried chicken to salmon teriyaki and spicy pan-seared eggplant. Desserts and drinks are also well represented, with oolong tea chiffon cake, sugar bread sticks, and gingerade. Feldner also includes a section on the basics, such as stocks and various types of rice. Entertaining, with striking full color photographs throughout, this book shows that Japanese home cooking is more than sushi and noodles, providing new perspective on everyday Japanese home fare. (Apr.)
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"This inviting book is the warmest introduction to Japanese cuisine you could hope to find. Sarah Marx Feldner worked in Japan as an English teacher, but it was the country's food (everyday home-cooked fare, in particular) that captured her attention. Here, she shares her discoveries through charming stories and 100 appealing recipes, such as Crispy Rice Snacks, Soy-Glazed Chicken Wings, Braised Spare Ribs, and Cold Sesame Noodle Salad. Each hunger-inducing recipe is thoughtfully written and most are tantalizingly photographed. And nothing seems too foreign or difficult, which was Feldner's goal. She hoped readers would say, "I can make that!" And you will."—Fine Cooking
"Filled with step-by-step photos to help novices master essential skills, A Cook's Journey to Japan will give readers the courage to try new recipes. Classic dishes include tori karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken), age-dashi dofu (deep-fried tofu), and tonjiru (pork miso soup). But it's the nontraditional recipes that really catch the eye, like Japanese "cocktail peanuts" (nuts baked in a sweet miso coating), gingerfried soybeans and daikon salad with a spicy karashi-mentaiko dressing. A Cook's Journey to Japan gathers some of the country's best recipes, and will be a treat for anyone looking to expand their repertoire of Japanese cuisine."—Metropolis
"[The book] welcomes us in with a trove of recipes including Udon Soup with Chicken Meatballs and Japanese-Style Vegetable Gratin, which Feldner collected from everyday people she met in her travels. The recipes are set with the gorgeous illustrative photographs of Noboru Murata. And the forward is by Japanese cooking authority Elizabeth Andoh, who was one of Feldner's mentors."—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Top customer reviews
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The author, a librarian and culinary journalist, made the small town of Iwaki her "Japanese 'hometown'", traveling around the countryside to collect recipes as people prepared food "to feed their families, satisfy a sweet tooth and celebrate life." The result is a beautifully illustrated guide that almost makes you feel you've visited the kitchens of her friendly, welcoming hosts.
Like any great cookbook, this starts with an introduction to ingredients, utensils, and preparation methods -- an indispensable reference for the produce section of my local Japanese market. And like any good anthropologist of food, the author includes regional and seasonal variations and both traditional and newer, internationally influenced recipes.
The recipes are clear, with English and metric measures and step-by-step illustrations for trickier bits. Most recipes include substitutions for Western palates and groceries. There are suggested menus, a guide to web resources, and a thorough and accurate index. Chapter titles are helpfully repeated as footers near the right margin.
Whether you want to explore everyday Japanese cuisine or expand your bento lunchbox repertoire, "A Cook's Journey to Japan" belongs in your cookbook collection.
Boy, am I glad I finally cracked the cover. I've made at least a dozen recipes out of this cookbook so far, and every one of them has turned out great on the first try. The recipe for sesame fried chicken is a huge, huge hit with my family, and it's now part of our regular, weeknight rotation. Sadly, we have no access to good seafood where we live, so I have not tried the seafood recipes (about 15% of the book, maybe?), but the soups, meat dishes, veggies, and noodle dishes we've tried have all been stellar. I bring one of the cold noodle salads to work for lunch almost every week. I even pack onigiri to bring to the zoo for toddler snacks. It's one of those cookbooks that has food stains on the pages because it spends a lot of time in the kitchen, instead of on the coffee table.
One commenter said that the recipes are bland and not the best of Japanese food. Bland I don't agree with. I'm a bit of a food snob, and I thought they were very tasty. Not big, bold flavors, perhaps, but definitely well-balanced, delicious, and somehow wonderfully "homey". I think the cookbook is very much geared towards the Western home cook who wants to try out some everyday Japanese dishes. A lot of the book is "weeknight food," and all of it can be made with ingredients readily available in the US. There's nothing you can't find in a well-stocked grocery store. If you are already well-versed in Japanese cooking, though, or if you are looking for elaborate dishes to wow a dinner party, you might want to try the other cookbooks that the other commenter suggests.
Oh, and I loved the little stories that went with the recipes. The impression I got was not of someone who wanted to brag, but of someone overflowing with gratitude and recognition for her teachers and hosts in Japan. I thought it painted a picture of someone who fell in love with Japanese cuisine and with the people she met in Japan. Still, there's no reason you have to read the stories to make the dishes. There are also helpful notes with each recipe on finding good ingredients and on possible variations.
If you don't have a good Asian market, you might have some trouble getting some of the ingredients, so that dropped the rating a bit. However, there's still plenty in this cookbook to make you go back again and again. I definitely recommend it!
I received a copy of this book from Tuttle Publishing for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
There are menu suggestions, a list of resources with their web sites, a map of Japan, an explanation of Japanese tea- green of course and how to brew it.
These are recipes that a westerner might be interested in and the ingredients would be readily available.
There are appealing recipes such as: Japanese egg salad sandwich, sesame fried chicken, soy-glazed chicken wings, oolong tea chiffon cake.
The book contains 100 recipes, including: the basics (fish stock, white rice, sushi rice, etc.), snacks and salads, soups, rice and noodles, poultry and meat, seafood, vegetables and tofu, desserts and drinks.
This is indeed a beautiful book and beyond that instructive, educational and useful.