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Oct 1, 2009 07:53 PM

Choosing a Japanese cookbook

I can appreciate and speak about Japanese food, but am worthless when it comes to cooking it. I'm looking for something really approachable and accessible, but also with something more interesting than katsu, noodles, curry, and other Japanesefoodthatwhitepeoplelike. I'm hoping to find something seafood oriented as it's my favorite protein, but I don't think I'm ready for something on the level of Nobu. Any suggestions?

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  1. I really like this book :

    "Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen" by Elizabeth Andoh

    The book covers Japanese food as a whole and with the optic of home cooking. It is very accessible and informative.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ramenking

      I also like this book. "Washoku" has a section dedicated to fish that you might particularly enjoy. I think it's out of print now, but Andoh's "At Home with Japanese Cooking," is also a good introduction. I'm sure you can find this used. There aren't pictures, but there are some drawings to help with technique. I've also just recently learned that Andoh has a book, "An Ocean of Flavor: The Japanese Way with Fish and Seafood." This might be of interest to you given your protein preferences. I just purchased this used for less than $2.00, but have not seen it yet.

      Lastly, Shizuo Tsuji's "Japanese Cooking a Simple Art" is a classic. It is a comprehensive guide to traditional Japanese cooking. This will give you an understanding of the basic cooking methods (i.e. steaming, simmering, deep frying and grilling). This might be a good second book, once you have become familiar with some basics. Good luck!

      1. re: BigSal

        I have "Washoku" and "Japanese Cooking: a Simple Art". The first is a relatively recent purchase that I have used only a few times, always with good results. Tsuji's book has been in my library for a good many years. For a book that is so comprehensive, I have been very happy to find it very easy to follow. If I had only one book, Tsuji's would be it, for the range of what it covers and for the explanatory material outside of the recipes. This is not to put down Washoku by any means. Perhaps it is more of an individual preference; when learning a new cuisine I have a lot of questions and appreciate all the additional information I can find. Others may prefer to dive in and cook some straightforward recipes, and seek more detailed information later. As they say, YMMV!

      2. re: ramenking

        I use Washoku as well. I've had very good luck with it, and the recipes cut down in size well.
        I also like this (somewhat silly) little book about pickles.

        sometimes I don't even completely follow the recipe (as far as resting times) but it has educated me very well about which spices to use with which vegetables. There is such variety in the different vegetables used in Japanese cuisine, and that is something that I haven't found in most cookbooks. When I ask my Japanese friends about it, they will sort of politely shrug as if everyone is born knowing the right way to cook "mountain vegetables."

        1. re: khh1138

          I have just purchased Washoku and am enjoying reading through the book immensely. Though I haven't yet cooked from it, I am looking forward to diving in when Indian COTM is over. In the meantime, I would love to know which recipes you have particularly enjoyed.

          1. re: khh1138

            I love that pickles book! I make pickles from it (or inspired by it) very often.

            I like Harumi Kurihara's "Harumi's Japanese Kitchen", too. Fairly traditional recipes, for the most part, but with a modern sensibility...