Japanese flavors meet American ingredients

HIROKO’S AMERICAN KITCHEN: COOKING WITH JAPANESE FLAVORS: 6 EASY SAUCES; 125 MODERN RECIPES

HIROKO’S AMERICAN KITCHEN: COOKING WITH JAPANESE FLAVORS: 6 EASY SAUCES; 125 MODERN RECIPES

HIROKO’S AMERICAN KITCHEN: COOKING WITH JAPANESE FLAVORS: 6 EASY SAUCES; 125 MODERN RECIPES
By Hiroko Shimbo (Riverside, New Jersey: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012, 224 pp., $24.99, paperback)

The basic goal of Hiroko Shimbo’s new cookbook “Hiroko’s Japanese Kitchen” is simple: to help American home cooks infuse familiar ingredients with Japanese flavors and preparation styles. Take the “Tomato, Onion, Avocado and Bacon Rice Bowl.” It’s basically a BLT donburi — seasoned with mirin, sake and shoyu. Shimbo, a Japanese food expert based in New York, makes Japanese preparations user-friendly, with ingredients that can be purchased at most grocery stores and would likely be tame enough for even the pickiest of eaters.

But more sophisticated palates and frequent consumers of Japanese food can still find exciting surprises. The “Gingered Pork Burger,” Shimbo’s Americanized version of buta no shoga-yaki, is easy to prepare and has a delicious balance of sweet and tangy tastes. “Miso Shrimp Scampi” is a unique departure from the typical shrimp sautéed in garlic and butter, and the sweet and spicy sauce is vibrant without overwhelming the tender seafood.

The book’s organization is also innovative. Shimbo presents six basic sauces, and has grouped the recipes by the sauce they use as their base. Shimbo proposes keeping quantities of the sauces in storage as easy starters for a variety of recipes, an interesting idea that could make daily cooking duties more convenient for the home chef. The sauces range from the basic — a simple kelp stock that Shimbo manipulates into a variety of soups — to the more complex “Best Basting and Cooking Sauce,” used to add a distinctly Japanese zest to proteins from salmon to chicken liver pate.

Between recipes, Shimbo includes snippets about her life that are alternately amusing and educational, and often both. One entry, for example, starts out with the pithy phrase, “Yams confuse us” and goes on to discuss different types of yams and their preparations. Other entries describe the best ways to wash mushrooms or cut a rock-hard kabocha — tactics that might not be found in the typical cookbook.
She also shares personal stories about her Japanese parents and American husband that provide a context for her culinary point of view.

Among countless cookbooks that deal with one type of cuisine, this book stands out for blending American and Japanese food cultures into intriguing recipes that capture both at their best.

Speak Your Mind

*

Kyplex Cloud Security Seal - Click for Verification