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on 29 August 2007
Japanese food outside Japan has a modern and chic image, but also seems complicated (all that presenation!). It's often overpriced and usually cannot begin to approximate the incomparable taste of Japanese food in Japan. It takes a brave cook to try to convince us to do this at home. But in Elizabeth Andoh we have a cook with a peerless knowledge of Japanese cooking and food traditions and in this book she gives us a beautifully-illustrated, clearly-written and friendly guide who takes us by the hand and leads us into the wonderland of Japanese food.

All recipes are geared towards (and were tested by) cooks living outside Japan using products likely to be available to them. She demystifies the basic ingredients and techniques, guiding us through the indispensable fresh and pantry items. There are chapters covering soup, rice, noodles, vegetables, fish, meat and poultry, tofu and eggs, and desserts. Recipes include both home-style favourites like ginger pork as well as more sophisticated (but easy-to-make) dishes to impress guests such as tamago-doufu (savoury egg custard).

As well as the cookery how-tos, Andoh gives us fascinating cultural information on food and ingredients, such as associations with particular times of year or festivals, as well as many practical tips on thrifty cooking and a few words on, yes, presentation. She also hopes to imbue the reader with the ethos of Washoku, Japanese food.

If I have a quibble, it is a problem that this cookbook shares, sadly, with all too many US-published cookbooks: it assumes all readers are American and gives all measures in cups (US cups? Japanese cups? UK cups?) and imperial measures only. This seems a low-level irritation but since it crops up in all recipes, it makes the book less easy to use as you're always having to convert. It's a shame as with a little extra editorial effort, this could have been avoided.

If you only buy one Japanese cookbook, buy this one. If you thought Japanese cooking is too complicated, buy this book and see how easy and delicious it is.
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on 19 April 2014
I bought a copy of this book several years ago. It's been such a wonderful resource for me. I think it offers a good background on the ingredients and processes required. While some of the items may be difficult to find if you're not living in a place where there's a good sized Japanese population it's still worth understanding as much as possible. One of the things I really enjoy most is it's written without many of the assumptions that come from many other cookbooks. Give it a try. It's really a beautiful and helpful book.
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on 15 February 2010
This is as much a recipe book as an history nor information book. Its fully loaded with facts, about origins of miso, spices, herbs and greens, many I'd never herd of before, and I am working in the hospitality sector, and has a great interest in food culture. anyhow the information arrant serves very easy, its a quit boring book, plus the recipes in the book are so authentic, that the ingredients mostly is hard to find, if not impossible. but the information pages will not is whole recipes, more information on dried foods, and what that can keep, about original Japanese flavors. It gives a deep perspective of the true Japanese taste, other the maki rolls and sashimi, it takes the reader through all the essentials of japanese cooking, witch is very different from european, middle easter and other asian as thai, india and china. Wich also have a wide range, the book also explanes over the variation if food culture in the country. If your open for learning about a new world of flavours, and not afraid of new things, There are as said before not that meny recipes, and the reason why i doesnt get the full, is; The writers is too boring, there is to mutch unimportant, chit chat,mung bean, but its deeply original, and in that way good, i only tried out to produse the stock yet, but I am looking forward for the actual cooking process to begin :)
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