Japan: The Cookbook by Nancy Singleton Hachisu (£29.95 Hardback Published by Phaidon on 6 April 2018) – Tried and tested by Lyssiemay Annoh
The cover is not as colourful as traditional cookbooks and Nancy Singleton Hachisu does not want her Japan cookbook to be an examination of “regional” cooking traditions; she intends it to be a curated experience of Japan’s culinary framework from a specific moment in time. Nancy has put together what she hopes will be considered as a broad and rich picture of Japanese food.
She is a Californian and Stanford graduate who moved to Japan in 1988. She lives with her Japanese farmer husband in an 85 year old traditional farmhouse in rural Saitama. This is Nancy’s third English book; her first culinary title, the highly praised Japanese Farm Book in 2012, was followed by Preserving the Japanese way in 2015. Her Japanese cookbook Nancy-san’s Working Kitchen was released by Wani Books in November 2017.
Style of writing
Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s 464-pages Japan Cookbook explores the history of food in Japan; traditions,
earthenware, and that very special ingredient of how making friends with the locals and gaining the trust of traditional Japanese home cooks across the country is an important key to learning something about Japanese food.
She starts by taking the reader through a journey of Japanese culture and traditions then introduces the history of Japanese food. She also guides us on how to build relationships and gain the trust of the home cook who would part with some of her valuable knowledge of Japanese home cooking. After all, the recipes presented in the book are to enable the reader to prepare some delicious home-cooked food.
I especially like the way that she has dedicated 19 pages to a well-researched, educational glossary of ingredients, where to find them, how to use them, and how to make them. There is also an introduction to useful Japanese kitchen equipment, and Japanese cutting styles.
Quality of recipes
This is the book for anyone who appreciates Japanese food and wants to indulge in Japanese home cooking. There are over 400 recipes divided into 16 sections starting with simple recipes for “Before the Meal” through to Dressed, Raw, Vinegared, Simmered, Soups, Steamed, Stir-Fries, Fried, Grilled, Noodles, Rice, Pickles, One-pots, Sweets and ends with a selection of recipes from Chefs. Sushi fans will find all they need to know in the Rice section; however, whatever your interest in Japanese home-cooked food, this is the cookery book for you.
Under the soups section, the reader is introduced to soups, simple Japanese broths and taught how to make them; especially as broths such as the Dashi is a required ingredient in some of the recipes in the book.
I settled for the Clam Broth Soup on page 158 with a 10-minute preparation time and 5 minutes cooking time as a starter and the Pine Needle -Grilled Snapper on page 260 with a 20 minutes preparation time and 20 minutes cooking time for main. The Clam Broth Soup has simple ingredients, very short cooking time and my main looked healthy and tasty. Above all, I could find the ingredients almost anywhere.
Photography and Design
The book has been tastefully designed with clean matt photographs that present the food as they should be.
Who is the book suitable for?
This is the book for anyone who wants to push the boundaries with cooking. Like most of Japanese cuisine it has a lot of healthy options but the joy that this book brings is that it encourages home cooking and enables lessons on the cultures behind Japanese home cooking. Whatever your interest in Japanese home-cooked food, this is the cookery book for you.
Japan: The Cookbook by Nancy Singleton Hachisu is published by Phaidon (£29.95) – www.phaidon.com