Learn to cook authentic Japanese food from scratch at home, with step by step recipes for the traditional classics like ramen noodles, broth, sushi rice or homemade tofu as well as recipes for more contemporary fusion dishes.
Maori Murota takes you to the heart of today’s Japanese family home cooking, sharing the recipes she learned while she watched her own mother and grandmother cook.
Here are 100 recipes – eggplant spaghetti, pepper and miso sauce, donburi, baked sweet potato, soba salad, roast chicken with lemongrass, onigiri, hot dog, Japanese curry, steamed nut cake – many of which are vegan friendly and plant-based, to take you to the heart of Japanese home cooking.
As someone who is an eager consumer of a variety of world cuisines but a somewhat cautious cook, I’ve been looking for ways to gradually expand my culinary repertoire outside of my kitchen comfort zone.
Maori Murota’s Japanese Home Cooking (published in the US as Simply Japanese) promises to ‘demystify Japanese food, to make it accessible and understood by anyone and everyone’. With 100 step-by-step recipes, many of which are plant-based and vegan friendly, Murota’s latest book offers to teach readers how to cook authentic Japanese food from scratch at home. From classics such as donburi and miso soup, to more unfamiliar and elaborate dishes such as oyaki (grilled vegetable dumplings) and dorayaki (red bean pancakes), Murota shares the recipes she learned while watching her own mother and grandmother cook.
My husband and I decided to have a go at ganmodoki (fried tofu dumplings). Like many people who live outside of a city, we don’t have a handy Asian supermarket just down the road, which can make following some recipes a bit of a challenge. If the local Tesco doesn’t have it, we struggle to get it! So, when I read that the ganmodoki required both dried seaweed and mirin, I was a little worried. Fortunately, Tesco came up trumps on both, although some tips on alternatives for these more unusual or hard-to-find ingredients would have been helpful.
The ganmodoki recipe was easy to follow and we were aided by nice clear colour photography (there’s photographs accompanying all of the recipes) and step-by-step instructions. Although our ganmodoki didn’t come out quite as elegant as in the picture (tip: when it says you need ‘firm tofu’, it really does mean firm so make sure it’s thoroughly drained before using), they tasted great, and we got the satisfaction of making and eating something at home that we’d only previously encountered in a restaurant. And whilst they did take a little longer than the suggested 15 minutes prep time and 7 minutes cook time, this was mainly because we’d forgotten to drain our tofu before beginning.
Although we’ve not yet had the opportunity to try out any of the other recipes in Japanese Home Cooking, there are lots of dishes that I’m eager to have a go at. Nikuman and yasaiman (pork buns and vegetable buns) are amongst my favourite dishes but I’ve never had the courage to give them a go at home. With Murota’s clear instructions, however, I think they might make for some fun weekend cooking.
Murota also includes recipes that, although they might seem like a palaver to begin with, will save you time in the long run such as mentsuyu (homemade noodle sauce), as well as advice on choosing between different types of miso paste, filleting fish for some of the recipes, and preparing Japanese tea. There’s also a handy section at the back on utensils and ingredients.
As you might expect, some specialist equipment is required for some of the recipes (such as bamboo steamer for the nikuman and yasaiman, and a makisu for making maki) but you can get by with a few basics. We managed fine cooking the ganmondoki in a sauté pan. The same goes for ingredients. As with any new cuisine, there are some basic stocks, sauces, and herbs that are essential so there will be an initial cost to preparing your cupboard for Japanese Home Cooking. Cook Japanese cuisine often, however, and you’ll find many of the same ingredients listed again and again. Plus, as Murota notes, many of the same staple ingredients are used in Chinese and Korean food.
Overall Japanese Home Cooking does exactly what it says on the tin. If you’re already familiar with Japanese food – and cooking it regularly at home – then you might not find much here that you don’t already know about. For those who have previously only ever eaten Japanese cuisine as pre-prepared meals or at restaurants, however, this is a great introduction to Japanese home cooking, with a range of recipes to suit every taste. I’ll definitely be adding it to my cookbook shelf and slotting some of these recipes into my repertoire going forwards!
If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green Bookshop, Sam Read Booksellers, Book-ish, Scarthin Books, and Berts Books.
My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until 17 September 2022 so please do check out the other stops for more reviews and content!
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