Saturday, November 22, 2008

adventures in Japanese cooking

A couple of weeks ago Rakka and I stopped in at Kinokuniya (the one in Uwajimaya) and, purely on impulse, we picked up "Let's Cook Japanese Food".

Let's Cook Japanese Food!: Everyday Recipes for Home Cooking It's written by an American lady who married into a Japanese family, and then spent a bunch of time in Japan learning to cook from her mother in law. I'm not exactly in the target audience, since I have no ambition to be a housewife (Japanese or otherwise), but I'm close. After all, I am an American whose exposure to Japanese food is mostly limited to sushi restaurants. And yes, I am interested in simple home cooking that real people make on a regular basis.

Ok, so lets start with Ebi no Chiri So-su (shrimp in mild tomato chili sauce). This was surprisingly easy, and would have been more so if I had sprung for pre-shelled shrimp.

shelling shrimp

There were a ton of ingredients (yes, there's ketchup hiding in this picture), but putting them all together only took one bowl and one pan (and one dish to temporarily hold the cooked shrimp).

Ingredients for Ebi no CHiri So-su
ingredients (labeled)

As you can see, it came out pretty good. It was slightly sweet, subtlety spicy and nicely shrimpy.

Ebi no Chiri So-su
Ebi no CHiri So-su

The ketchup thing threw me for a minute. According to the book, a lot of everyday food in Japan is adaptations of other cultures' food. This is heartening. Now, when I head into the kitchen to bastardize some traditional japanese dish, I can feel like it's a trade instead of a theft.

So the shrimp was last week. Last night I tried my hand at Tsukune (grilled ground chicken skewers). This, even more than the grilled corn, justified the indoor electric grill that the book made me get.

cooking tsukune on an indoor grill
Indoor grills rock

It came out a little more meatloafy than I expected, and a little more chary. All in all, pretty good though.


There are still 100+ recipes in the book, and there's a whole Kinokuniya full of more cookbooks. I think my adventures in Japanese cooking will continue. And, of course, they'll be obsessively documented right here.

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