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Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen Hardcover – October 1, 2005
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If the food of a culture has a pulse, in Japan that pulse would be called washoku. It's a set of principles in fives that takes into account color, taste, ways of preparing food, the diner's senses, and the outlook brought to bear on both the cooking and the dining experience. The result? Meals that are balanced, pleasing, invigorating, healing, and satisfying--all in ways that seep deep into the soul. It's the great good luck of the West that Elizabeth Andoh chose a life in Japan and a focus on food. Her expertise has brought forth the award-winning An Ocean of Flavor as well as countless newspaper and magazine pieces.
With Washoku Andoh takes the reader into the heart of the Japanese home kitchen. She explains the guiding philosophy then brings it into practical terms with a section on the essential washoku pantry. Her section on the washoku kitchen begins with cutting and ends with shaping and molding. Recipes are found in chapters on Stocks and Condiments; Soups; Rice; Noodles; Vegetables; Fish, Meat and Poultry; Tofu and Eggs; and Desserts.
You might never prepare an entire Japanese meal from beginning to end (though with this book in hand you certainly could), but there's no reason not to believe you wouldn't begin to include some of these recipes in an expanding foodway. The sauces and condiments are particularly exciting. As is the underlying thinking that goes into how you are cooking and why you are cooking--the washoku of it all. Not a bad lesson to learn from an exemplary teacher. --Schuyler Ingle
From the Publisher
* A full-color cookbook featuring more than 140 recipes for the classics of the Japanese home kitchen, written by the leading English-language authority on the cuisine, Elizabeth Andoh, Gourmet magazine s correspondent in Japan.
* The essentials of the Japanese pantry the array of herbs and spices, the numerous varieties of miso, tofu, and noodles are illustrated in full-color photographs.
* Andohs An Ocean of Flavor won the IACP cookbook award for Seafood, Meat, and Poultry in 1998.
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Don't get me wrong, many flavors and textures should seem familiar to the palate of an American fan of Japanese restaurant food. Japanese food was a stranger at a party whom I had bumped into from time to time without ever being formally introduced. I know what it looked like, and some basic, obvious things about its personality. But now, thanks to this book, I feel that we are intimate friends. And there are many exciting things about it that I discovered for the first time.
It's also important to note that, even in Japan, there are many different Japanese styles of food. Washoku is merely the foundational style found in traditional households. It also seems to be the underlying philosophy behing the sets of instincts Japanese cooks across Japan tend to have, with regional variation.
I've read the negative reviews as well as the raves, and my reading of the reviews of people unhappy with this book is that they aren't yet familiar with cooking home-style Japanese food and don't have access to the ingredients. If you are looking for a basic first Japanese cookbook, try one of the many books loaded with photos and directions for dishes that can be prepared with ingredients found in most Western supermarkets. You'll be much happier.
But if you want to know how to use various kinds of miso and get detailed instructions on how to prepare a dish, this is definitely the cookbook for you!
I guess I give it four stars instead of five because it's rather like one of Julia Child's books in which you have to shift back and forth between various parts of the book. You definitely have to read about all the ingredients and methods before you prepare to cook. And even living in Honolulu there are many ingredients I can't obtain here. There are recipes missing so that I can't toss out my other cookbooks, but teriyaki salmon is not one of them -- that's to me a typical dish in Japanese restaurants in Honolulu, not Japan. And I admit I'd like more photos and diagrams, but that's wishing for the moon. This is a great cookbook and completely different from any other I've ever found in English. Amazon's price is great too!