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February Cookbook of the Month 2012: Japanese Month

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Welcome to our February 2012 Cookbook of the Month, Japanese Month which will feature WASHOKU by Elizabeth Andoh and JAPANESE COOKING: A SIMPLE ART by Shizuo Tsuji. If you’ve been lurking, please join us, we’re a welcoming bunch. If you're new to Cookbook of the Month, the COTM archive thread explains how it all works: http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...

This thread will be used for general discussion, menu planning, linking to recipes from the books available elsewhere on the web, and for discussing the sections of the books covering general techniques, ingredients, sources, etc. If you’re interested in reading the nomination thread you’ll find it at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/827937 . Also of interest is the announcement thread at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/829118 and finally there is a useful pantry list posted by BigSal at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8279... .

I’d like to send out a big thank you to LNightshade for taking over next month, and to Caitlin for all her help over the last 6 months.

The threads linked below will be used to discuss recipes in the chapters listed directly below each link. Please note the page number of the recipes as you review them. I’ve decided to put separate links for each book because they seem fairly differently organized.

JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Stocks, Sauces, and other Condiments http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831275

JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Soups http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831276

JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Rice and Noodles http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831277

JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Vegetables, Tofu and Eggs http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831278

JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Fish, Meat and Poultry http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831279

JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Desserts http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831280

JAPANESE MONTH: A SIMPLE ART: Basic Stock, Making Soups, Soups http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831282

JAPANESE MONTH: A SIMPLE ART: Sushi, Sashimi, Rice and Rice dishes http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831283

JAPANESE MONTH: A SIMPLE ART: Japanese Salads, Pickling Vegetables http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831284

JAPANESE MONTH: A SIMPLE ART: Grilled and Pan-Fried Dishes, Deep fried Dishes http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831285

JAPANESE MONTH: A SIMPLE ART: Steamed and Simmered Dishes http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831286

JAPANESE MONTH: A SIMPLE ART: One Pot Dishes, Noodles http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831287

JAPANESE MONTH: A SIMPLE ART: Sweets and Confections, Tea and Sake, Miscellaneous http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831288

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. I hope no one objects, but I took the liberty of creating a companion thread for those who do not have the books chosen this month. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8312...

    There are also many websites on Japanese cooking. I have had good results with YouTube's Cooking with Dog, justhungry and justbento (same owner) and toirokitchen (for my donabe cooking, but the recipes can be adapted). I also like Japanese Food Report by Harris Salat (one of the authors of Hot Pots and the Japanese Grill) and japanesefood.about (not an exciting layout, but a good resource for Japanese standards, but the contributor left so it hasn't been updated latey), but have not cooked from any specific recipes from either website. I've been cooking away for the last week or so, so I will try and get some of my reviews up soon. If all goes well tonight we'll be making the Ishikari Nabe (salmon hot pot) from the Hot Pot book.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BigSal

      Wonderful that you started a companion thread! Thanks so much BigSal.

      1. re: BigSal

        Thank you so much - I'm a little hesitant to begin a foray into Japanese cooking and I'm not sure why. Suppose it's lack of familiarity with ingredients, equipment , etc. So I'm not going to purchase the book this month - at least not yet. If it is not available at the library I'll try some of the resources you've provided.

      2. I have now read all the way through Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, but I do confess that I skimmed through a few sections. And then I got to sweets, and then a Part II. I don't quite understand the division. Did anyone else read something that explains the separation?

        5 Replies
        1. re: smtucker

          I've only seen it online, but it confused me too. I'd love to hear from someone who has the book and understands. My copy of Washoku still hasn't come in from the library yet, so I'm sitting here tapping my fingers.

          1. re: LulusMom

            I nearly bought A Simple Art when the revised edition came out but felt too intimidated by it at the time. I went for a couple of books by Tokiko Suzuki which were less frightening to me and which I still turn to (I recommend them highly). I've finally got around to ordering "A Simple Art" thanks to these February threads (hadn't realised it had gone out of print!)
            Anyway - my impression of how the book works is that "part 1" describes all the components of a Japanese meal and goes through each topic in glorious detail. The theory of Japanese cooking. "Part 2" is where you put these master classes into action and a list of recipes are presented. From what you learned in Part 1 you should be able to judge appropriate combinations of dishes to make your own meals. Including ALL the recipes in part 1 would just make the book more intimidating than it is.

          2. re: smtucker

            I've owned/used the book for years and love it, because the recipes really work, but I will never understand the way it is organized, and while this sometimes drives me crazy, the index, thank goodness, is pretty good though not perfect, and the internal page/recipe references are also generally accurate.

            1. re: qianning

              Would you be willing to post a few of the recipes that you have particularly enjoyed? I am actually enjoying A Simple Art very much; and find his recipes quite enticing.

              1. re: smtucker

                Sure, this is random (just leafing through for the first time in a while. I've been reading "Washoku" the past few days, so haven't started to tag "Old & New" from Tsuji, as we affectionately call him around here)

                pg. 200 Teriyaki sauce (we use it for beef & fish, per his directions) & Yellowtail Teriyaki
                pg 148 Primary & Secondary Dashi ( a lot of the time I cheat and use instant, but when its the real deal I use his methods)
                pg. 178-179, not a recipe, but the skewering technique for grilling fish, fabulous!
                pg. 182 Salt Grilled Sea Bass (or often bream, which we prefer)
                pg. 225 Sake Simmered mackerel (warning, the fish must be PERFECTLY fresh)
                pg 242 Five Basic Vinegar Dressings , the first three
                pg. 253 Spinach w/ Sesame Dressing (Love this!)
                pg. 290 Sushi Rice
                pg. 308 Homemade Noodles (in truth, I am still striving to get handmade soba right, but his recipe comes closer than others I've tried)
                pg. 312 Noodles in a Basket
                pg 232 Quick Turnip (Cucumber) Pickles, never made it w/ turnip, but have done it w/ his suggested cuke alternate.
                pg. 361 Pan-Broiled Salmon (I usually make it in a cast iron skillet over the grill--we have a good kitchen vent, cost more than the stove!, but even it can't keep up with the smoke/fish oil) still the results are delicious
                pg. 370 Steak Teriyaki
                pg. 395 Drenched Radish
                pg. 412 Deep Fried Tofu
                pg 420 Green Beans w/ Sesame-Miso Dressing (as he notes, excellent w/ other veggies too)
                pg. 423 Vinegared Cucumber (be careful, it can easily become too salty, at least for me)

                As you can see mostly basic stuff, I'm hoping to try some of the "compound" dishes this month.

                I've never tried any of the one-pot dishes, are you noting any differences in his approach compared to the other Hot Pot book you got? (We eat lots of Chinese hot pot at home in the winter and I'm hoping to try some of the Japanese variations this month, not sure from which book yet).

          3. Tonight was my first full Japanese adventure and my kitchen is a disaster zone! I am not, however, discouraged. This always happens when I start to investigate a new cuisine. I don't know the rhythm of the ingredients and can't always determine what to prep first, second or third.

            I am not convinced that I have an adequate sake, and my miso is a mystery [if tasty.]

            Bought the ingredients to make Tonkatsu tomorrow night for some guests. They have fond memories of this dish.

            1. Tea-and-Rice (Ochazuke) on page 442 of Japanese Cooking he mentions that this can be made with pickle (tsukemono-ochazuke)rather than fish....does anyone know what sort of pickle? We're hoping to have this as a light supper tomorrow night, and while Mr. QN would probably enjoy it more w/ the white fleshed fish in the master recipe, I think I'd like it better with pickle, if I can just figure out which pickle.....

              3 Replies
              1. re: qianning

                There's a wonderful film by Yasujiro Ozu called (in English) "The Flavour of Green Tea Over Rice" where the protagonist goes to the nuka pot and takes a pickle out of the fermenting bran to make ochazuke with.
                My husband will put any Japanese pickle to hand in his but, personally, I'm not sure anything too vinegary is right for this dish. Umeboshi is good (you can even get commercially made ochazuke packets with an ume plum taste) but takuan and other rice bran pickles seem the most appropriate but it really is your call.

                1. re: MoGa

                  Thank you, thank you!

                  We are going out for a big Chinese lunch tomorrow, and then some Chinese and Japanese grocery shopping, some I'm hoping to be able to find some Umeboshi and I know should be able to get some takuan. Commercial, but hey, I don't have a nuka pot or months for the pickle to cure.

                  BTW, Ozu films are a real favorite, but I've never seen "The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice", I'll have to make a point of watching it.

                  1. re: MoGa

                    Here in the public domain is the first 15 minutes of the movie, "The Flavour of green Tea Over Rice."

                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chFr5I...

                2. Another group cooking through Washoku: The Washoku Warriors...
                  http://www.lafujimama.com/2009/06/was...

                  1. Popping in from lurkerdom to post this NPR story about Elizabeth Andoh:

                    http://www.wbur.org/npr/146643164/mor...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Kiyah

                      Thank you for sharing this. I was unaware of the ebook. The onigiri on the cover seems very appropriate as I read how it provide both nourishment and comfort to the quake and tsunami survivors.

                    2. Can anyone recommend an adequate substitute for hijiki? After reading through Kansha, Andoh states that hijiki is banned in Canada and parts of Europe due to concerns about arsenic levels, which would explain why I have been unable to locate any. She claims that arame would work in hijiki's place, but have been unsuccessful in that quest as well. I picked up some mekabu, accidentally thinking she had mentioned that sea vegetable as the sub, but no luck. Would that work in its place? The soaking water that I have it sitting in is extremely viscous and slimy, so I have some doubts.....

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Allegra_K

                        Have a look at this site - http://www.foodsubs.com/Seaveg.html Do you have a TNT market where you are? They sell all things oriental and might have several less common sea vegetables available. I have not been to the store in a long time and it is on my list to visit soon.

                        1. re: herby

                          Thank you for the link, herby!! This is perfect....I actually have a bag of dulse in my fridge that I have been uninspired about, until now!

                      2. FYI, because February is a short month, I've posted the March nomination thread today:
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/832974

                        1. I really wanted to participate this month, I have both cookbooks but my husband is recovering from major surgery and I just haven't been able to cook from them. Hopefully soon I can come back and post on these topics.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: rasputina

                            It is only the 15th! We have almost half a month left. Hope your husband gets better quickly so you can join us.

                          2. Mr. Smtucker has declared that he is "tired of dashi." "Everything this month has that dashi," he bemoaned. "I want some more zip. Make Chinese!"

                            I am crushed. I have really enjoyed these flavors. I have a box full of ingredients. We haven't had soba noodles yet! We haven't had steamed dishes. We haven't grilled! But when one of the two people eating asks for a break, a break must be had.

                            So, looks like I will walk away from my FOUR Japanese cookbooks for a week and produce food with more "oomph."

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: smtucker

                              Poor you. revolt of the dining companion is never easy.

                            2. I'm surprised that this thread is a little bit quiet, and not many people cook from Washoku. I'm reading it right now. She's like the Julia Child of Japanese cuisine. I never read a cookbook word by word but this one is so interesting. But I'm not sure if I'll be able to cook any recipe. Many ingridients are inaccessible for me.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: pearlyriver

                                The book was inaccessible to me, which I bet was the problem for a lot of us. No copy at the library, and I just wasn't ready to give in and buy it sight unseen.