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Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers Hardcover – June 1, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Wine as westerners know it is a relatively new phenomenon in Japan, where more people drink sake or beer with meals. Because Japanese cuisine was not designed with Western wine in mind, it can be challenging for the sushi or yakitori aficionado to figure out what to uncork as an accompaniment. This book tries to respond to that challenge by offering several Japanese recipes paired with wine suggestions. According to the authors, Steamed Pork and Cabbage with Yuzu is best matched with a Riesling or a Sauvignon Blanc because "the selection of fatty pork with cooked cabbage gives the dish sweetness." They propose pairing a Malbec or Lambrusco with deliciously crunchy Beef and Orange Roast, and Chardonnay with a spare, elegant Lobster Dip. These suggestions are certainly satisfactory. But it's troubling that the authors provide no specific sources for foreign ingredients, nor do they consistently provide alternatives for difficult-to-find Japanese foodstuffs (kogomi ostrich ferns, anyone?). Further, the recipes' portion sizes are often ludicrously small-Steamed Scallops affords a single scallop per person-and while the authors suggest that several dishes could be considered appetizers, who would pop a bottle of bubbly for a single scallop? To make a meal of these dishes would require a king's ransom of wine; frankly, it might be easier to just open a bottle of sake.
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"In these full-color pages lush with mouth-watering photography, carefully selected recipes, and detailed explanations, they communicate their knowledge with great flair and insight. I'm sure readers will feel educated, enlightened, and entertained, which is precisely how we should always feel when pondering my favorite subjects of food and drink." —Dr. Yukio Hattori Creator and Star of Iron Chef
"This is more than just a cookbook, despite the extensive collection of recipes. It offers a unique and in-depth glimpse into how a professional works wine and food together to create the perfect match." —Chicago Tribune
"A high point is a description of the Japanese way of matching wine and food by 'umami,' that elusive term that translates literally as 'delicious taste' and more practically as 'savory.'...it'll make you sound sooo cosmopolitan at cocktail parties." —Miami Herald
"What's most remarkable about this book is that it's clearly the product of a top-notch team: wine consultant J.K. Whelehan deftly offers multiple wine recommendations for each recipe, as well as more general advice. . .Chiba's recipes contain only a handful of ingredients, and can be prepared in under 30 minutes. . . Photographs are unadorned and lovely as is the graphic design . . . A beautiful volume that contains elegant, simple dishes, whether or not you know your way around miso, mirin and wasabi." —Wine Enthusiast Magazine
"You don't have to be a wine lover to enjoy the recipes in Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers ...this fabulous book will please picky eaters with subtle flavors, beautiful designs and healthy preparation...recipes are simply prepared with astonishing results...will open a world of 'umami' (savory delicious flavors)." —Culinary Thymes Magazine
"The dishes in this book are simple to make and represent a new wave of cookery in Japan today."—Healthy Cooking
"A culinary meeting of East and West at its sumptuous best." —ForeWord Magazine
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Chiba has created a selection of dishes more "wine friendly" than traditional Japanese foods, fishes with thick sauces and light vegetable salads that would never appear in a restaurant in Japan. As she states in her introduction, these are dishes that she created over the years working in New York, adapting Japanese foods to suit Western tastes and trying to create dishes that partner better with the more wine-friendly West. Ingredients bounce back and forth between Western and Japanese, with interesting blends such as the "Avocado Tofu Salad" and "Seafood with Carrot Dressing." There is a good blend of vegetable, meat and fish dishes to suit any eating habits.
Whelenan has taking these dishes, and found a reciprocal wine to go with each creation. In his introduction, Whelenan talks about the needs of pairing wines with the Asian taste of "umami," a fifth taste associated with Asian food separate from sweet, sour, salty and bitter. His essay on umami is quite enlightening in itself, and a very interesting read. He also touches on traditional Japanese ingredients such as soy sauce, mirin, wasabi, and shichimi seven-spice pepper, and the challenges of matching wine to each flavoring. His choices favor sparkling wines, which emulate the bubbles and freshness of the beer traditionaly served with these dishes, and champagne is a definite favorite to accompany foods such as sushi.
The flaws in "Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers" are in two main areas. First, Chiba, a professional chef, has created recipes with ingredients that are obscure and difficult to find even in a Japanese grocery store, and a specialty store will need to be found in order to make these recipes as written. Some, such as the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu, are quite necessary but many more serve as little more than a garnish and can be substituted easily. Unfortunately, Chiba does not make any suggestions for substitutions for these hard-to-find ingredients or suggestions as to where to acquire them, so you are on your own. Secondly, Whelenan has paired a separate wine for every single dish, many of which are little more than appetizers. The portions are all quite small, in keeping with Japanese-style serving of many dishes of small sizes. An extraordinary number of bottles of wine would need to fill a table if one cooked a meal based on this cookbook. A few balanced courses would have been nice, with a single wine that would work for the meal.
From this, "Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers" succeeds as a cookbook first, and as wine-paring advice second. Chiba's recipes are innovative and delicious. The "Salmon Marinated in Sake," "Silver Cod Simmered in Spicy Miso," "Tofu and Salmon Stuffed Peppers" and "Deep-Fried Sea Bream with Burdock" have all been absolutely delicious. The dishes are presentation-quality, great for inviting friends over for a meal when you are looking to impress, and with flavors balanced enough to suit Western and Japanese tastes. Whelenan's introduction serves as mini-lesson on pairing wine to this type of food, and an adventurous host will probably be able to use that just as much as his specific advice when planning and preparing a meal.
All the recipes are very simple and easy to follow and come with wine suggestions.
I also enjoyed the beautiful pictures of every dish!
What i hate most is a cooking book without picures. It's like a reading a novel and very boring. I need a cooking book to not only tell me how to prepare but also show me what I'm cooking.
This book has met all the things I'm looking for in a cooking book.
I've bought this book a few times already to give to my friends.
It makes a great gift!