Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cookbook Review: Easy & Healthy Japanese Food for the American Kitchen


Matt & I already had a strong interest in Japanese cooking, so when I was given the opportunity to try Kieiko-O-Aoki's Quick & Healthy Japanese Food for the American Kitchen, I didn't have to think before saying 'yes'.

This is a beautifully photographed and well-structured book. The pictures make you want the dishes, and lucky you!, the simple but not dumbed-down recipes get the food on your plate with a minimum of fuss.

There's a bit of how-to throughout the book, and not surprisingly, there's an emphasis on seafood. That doesn't do much for us, as I don't eat it at all, and Matt usually sticks to salmon and really expensive cuts of tuna. But even a vegetarian like me can appreciate the seafood recipes; they're gorgeous to look at, and the emphasis is always on flavor. The ingredients in these recipes aren't just there for show...they have a purpose.

We made three recipes as a test.

First, Agedashi Tofu.

This is a dish Matt often ordered when we lived in California, and frequented (and I mean that word quite literally) our favorite sushi restaurant. In this recipe, tofu is dusted with potato starch and quickly fried and served with a sauce of dashi, soy sauce and mirin.
If we followed the recipe exactly, this would have been garnished with green onion and caviar, and nori. We decided to skip the onions and caviar, but add some grated ginger.

We really liked this. I have been ambivalent about this dish for many years, but with this recipe, I ate the whole thing. And yeah...it's awfully pretty.

Next, Shabu Shabu.

A sort of beef salad; tahini, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, green onion, garlic and ginger mixed together, then poured over thinly sliced beef, cucumber, onion, and greens. It called for watercress, ours went bad, so we substituted arugula.
We also made a veggie version for me using Morningstar Farms 'beef' strips.

I thought it was...ok. Matt felt pretty much the same way. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with this salad, but neither of us were 'wowed' by it.

And finally, Tatsuta-style Fried Chicken.

Chicken marinated in ginger, sake and soy sauce, then dusted with potato starch and fried. Very simple.

We served ours over rice, and topped it with cashews, which is not in the directions.

We give four thumbs up to this one. The potato starch gives a nice crunch, yet it's only briefly fried, so you're not sucking down quarts of oil. And the marinade gives it a very nice Asian flavor.

I would say give this book a shot...there's nothing too complicated, although you may need a trip to...at the very least...the ethnic section of your local grocer for some of the ingredients. But there's plenty to try, you'll get lots of flavor, and you won't spend the whole day in the kitchen.

Blog Party#26 is coming, and this month, we're focusing on What's Inside! All your favorite appetizers with something to hide, and drinks, too...if you can manage!
Entries are due one week from today, 20 September; hope to see you there!

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4 Thoughts for food:

At 7:16 AM, Blogger Erin said...

I think both the tofu and the chicken sound yummy! :)

At 7:18 AM, Blogger winedeb said...

I really enjoy when folks share their comments on cookbooks. I love a good cookbook over a good novel any day! They are such an inspiration to me. Thanks!

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Erin, they really were! I really liked the chicken (or in my case, Veat). The coating is delicate, but still gives good crunch.

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Winedeb; you're very welcome!


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