Customer Reviews: Harumi's Japanese Cooking: More than 75 Authentic and Contemporary Recipes from Japan's Most Popular Cooking Expert
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on October 12, 2005
Japanese food is famous for being great to look at and great for your body. But it is not easy to make it using traditional methods. Kurihara's book removes that problem. She makes it easy to create both the traditional family meals and some unusual concoctions of her own.

This book does not cover the kinds of foods you will be able to buy at Japanese restaurants but rather the kinds of foods that Japanese eat at home. Her recipes make it easy to make them in your home. She has tested these recipes in Europe and has found some interesting substitutes for materials not easily found outside of Japan.

If you like Japanese cooking and would like to try to make it at home, this is the best introduction. Once you get accostomed to her cooking style, you can then move on to the more difficult methods of Tsuji and Suzuki. But you will find yourself returning to this book regularly because your family will keep requesting her foods.
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on January 14, 2007
Just so you know, the recipes in this wonderful cookbook are largely Japanese-Western fusion, not traditional Japanese. We enjoyed the delicious mentaiko spaghetti this afternoon (very easy to make) and the tofu Gorgonzola pesto salad. The combinations of flavors are interesting and tasty, but if you're looking for a book of more traditional recipes, you might try Washoku.
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on April 30, 2007
Harumi is a bonafied cookbook star in Japan. She's published more than 12 cookbooks, some of them small and adhering to themes like Bento, Seafood, or Italian, and many of her larger ones are collections of her "favorites," recipes that are regulars in her household - both are huge bestsellers, and I own most of them. So when this english version came out, I couldn't wait to try them.

The best part is that most of these recipes are "Japanese," but they are selectively compiled to cater to the American audience. She steers clear from the so-called "weird" Japanese ingredients, like natto (fermentated soy beans), or umeboshi (really sour pickled plum). A lot of Japanese home cooking are western dishes, like casseroles and hamburgers (surprise!), but Harumi, staying true to her title, has selected authentic Japanese recipes or western dishes with a Japanese twist.

I've cooked about half of the recipes in her book, and they all came out great. The best one so far is the open-faced dumplings, and the salmon cakes, and the chicken salad. There was one questionable recipe - the shredded carrot salad - which is her staple dish (as it's published in many of her cookbooks), but I think either Harumi or her editors may have altered the original recipe (which does NOT include vinegar or mustard) to cater to the more American notion of "salad." The original version is MUCH better; less like a salad and more like a stir-fried side dish.

I can guarantee that many, if not all, of her recipes in this book will turn out great, and this is coming from a girl who was raised by her mom's Japanese cooking for a good part of her life.
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VINE VOICEon May 15, 2007
Harumi's recipes are just the thing if you'd like to try your hand at some simple Japanese dishes. Her directions are clear and most of the ingredients are not too hard to find. If you try her recipes for green beans with ground meat or green beans with black sesame sauce, for instance, you will have created dishes that are simple, pleasing, and, well, Japanese. And if you've ever been to Japan and had that delicious pancake called okonomiyaki, then longed to reproduce it, Harumi gives you a pretty good recipe for making it right at home. Her variations on miso soup are good, too. I am less tempted by the "fusion" type dishes like "tofu with basil and gorgonzola dressing," which seem a bit odd to me. And the book does, annoyingly, lack an index, although it has a good glossary. I haven't tried all of her recipes, but my favorite so far is her easy and homey take on gyoza (dumplings). And although she has some recipes for making sushi, I'm leaving that job to the excellent sushi chefs in Portland (Maine).
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on December 15, 2006
Harumi's approach to cooking is refreshing. The cookbook is accessible, and works for beginners and expert chefs. There are "stable" japanese food items like Tempura, and Beef on Rice, but also great recipes for traditional homestyle meals that Japanese enjoy on a rainy day.

There are wonderful international influenced dishes that marry japanese style, with italian and american flavors.

The other great thing is that many of the dishes include items you already have in your fridge. A few trips to speciality grocery stores, and you'll be stocked to be able to cook a wide range of great food for your family and friends. They will be so impressed!

I personally think this book makes a great gift to anyone who has been oversaturated by books from Ina, Rachael, or Giada (though they are still great!)
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on January 18, 2007
I have a large cookbook collection and hate to admit that there are some I've never used for a single recipe. I first checked Harumi's book out at the library and after using (and loving) five recipes in two weeks, I just had to buy this book. The recipes are easy, quick and truly delicious. My mother was Japanese and these recipes remind me so much of what I grew up eating. I can recommend this book with confidence for anyone who wants to try something Japanese beyond sushi and teriyaki.
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on November 2, 2011
This book has a number of flaws.
Firstly, recipes are really for Japanese person who already knows what 'shokoshu' is and is able to actually get it. There are many ingredients not listed in the glossary that I couldn't find, even in the mega-huge Japanese grocery store, and I'm someone that has mirin, konbu and wakame in my pantry at all times.

Second, many of the recipes are poorly written or difficult to follow. Take the pan fried noodles with pork and bok choy. All the components in the ingredients list are out of order, so you have to jump around in the reading and frequently loose your place. This book needed an editor with attention to detail.

Third, in some instances, the instructions mention an ingredient that isn't in the ingredient list--take the hot tofu with ponzu soy mention of tofu in the ingredients list at all!

Fourth, a number of the recipes are flops. Scallop Saute with Miso Sauce includes a sauce with an odd combination of ingredients (miso, cream, mustard, white wine) that amounted to salty mud on the palate and the Chinese style dumplings' filling fell out and scattered all over the pan because the dumplings aren't sealed.

Fifth, there's no index, so you have to flip through the whole book to find anything, not that that's too hard, there's only about 66 recipes in the book, quite pricey for such poor performance.
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on June 17, 2007
one of my favorite cookbooks of all time namely because there exists glossy, full color photos on each page (and i guess because the food tastes pretty damn great, too). recipes are laid out in simple and easy to follow terms.
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on June 1, 2007
I agree with all the reviewers who gave this wonderful book five stars. I am already familiar with Japanese cooking techniques, but still found myself silently thanking Ms Harumi (and her editor?) for the wonderful job they did giving really clear and well thought-out instructions, which ought to help even a rookie to turn out the dishes in the way the author intended.

In fact, the only reason why I am giving this 4 stars, instead of 5, is that I do think -- and cook -- in metric, and this cookbook (well, at least the copy I bought in Singapore), uses American/ Imperial measures such as cups and ounces. But these recipes are well worth the effort of converting the measures... so do swing over to buying this book if you think it sounds appealing! If you are used to eating Japanese food cooked by Japanese people, the conversions shouldn't be a problem at all as you will be able to "guesstimate" the right measurements with just a bit of practice.
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on January 6, 2010
I have many Asian cookbooks, but this is the first one I know of that uses unfamiliar terms without explaining them. Worse, the book has no index. It has a glossary, but it is quite short. One recipe calls for an ingredient called "shokoshu", without further explanation. None of my five other reputable Japanese cookbooks refer to this ingredient, and even google had a hard time telling me that its something as simple as a form of Shaoxing wine. The same recipe called for "Chinese Soup Paste or a mix of chicken and beef stock", and I still don't know what that paste is, though at least in this case I a have a clue about how it should taste.

I think the book production team had the book translated, but then failed to do the rest of the job - make it useful to a foreign audience. I will still try the recipes, but I don't like being made to work so hard to do so.
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