Japanese cookbooks

Discover the best of Japanese cuisine with these recipe books

Time Out reviews the best cookbooks covering Japanese cuisine, including Harumi Kurihara's 'Everyday Harumi'. Learn how to master the classics, from buta shougayaki (pork with ginger) to chawanmushi (savoury egg custard). We'll be updating this page with more Japanese cookbook reviews shortly.

Everyday Harumi

Harumi Kurihara, Conran Octopus, £20

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Often described as the Delia of Japanese cookery, Harumi Kurihara’s extraordinary career has seen a string of television shows and best-selling cookery books, two of which have been published in English before this latest offering.

Having already won over the Japanese public, the still-spritely sixtysomething now has set her sights on the West. ‘Everyday Harumi’, unlike its predecessors, focuses primarily on educating Western cooks; Kurihara researched and wrote the book while in London, to ensure she understood the British way of eating and cooking.

It’s fair to say that Japanese cuisine in the UK has suffered from extremes of perception, from oversimplification (the raw fish and sushi cliché) to unnecessary complication (too fussy, too many obscure ingredients). While Kurihara acknowledges the complexities – she voices frustration at not being able to fully translate the multitude of cutting techniques used in the Japanese kitchen, for example – she is determined to highlight everyday dishes cooked by housewives like herself.

However, she tries hard to bring Japanese flavours in line with some Brit-style preferences – nestled between classics such as cold soba noodles with grated radish, buta shougayaki (pork with ginger) and chawan mushi (savoury steamed egg custards) are recipes for Harumi’s special barbecue marinade, mashed potatoes with a Japanese-style mushroom sauce, and halibut and aubergine miso gratin.

Local ingredients, such as mackerel, pumpkin and duck, are championed; for everything else, the volume is bookended with a comprehensive introduction to store-cupboard essentials and a handy list of (albeit London-heavy) addresses for suppliers of Japanese ingredients.

The elegance and beauty of traditional Japanese cookery, with its emphasis on presentation, is done justice with stunning photography by Jason Lowe and charming watercolour illustrations from Kim Marsland to highlight each recipe. A commendable contribution to the pool of modern Japanese cookery books, and one that will undoubtedly go further to educate than yet another ‘...Food Made Easy’ TV series.

Charmaine Mok, Time Out London Issue 2043: October 15-21 2009

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