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Veggie Haven:
Easy Japanese Cooking
By Kentaro Kobayashi
ISBN: 1934287628
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Publication date: October 2009
Format: Paperback
Number of recipes: 83
List price: $14.95
Type: Japanese; Ingredients: Vegetables
Sample recipe: Grilled Leek
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive encyclopedia coffee-table
Meal part: all breakfast/brunch lunch dinner dessert
Competition: outclassed a bit behind in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: airfare required online specialty store supermarket pantry
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose minimal complete educational
Time conscious: not conscious bald lies white lies realistic scout's honor
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant ample generous
Photos/drawings: none drawings b&w photos occasional color all color
Art contribution: disappointing distracting decorative beautiful glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine kind work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging ok clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy delicate years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: hard-to-find spotty sufficient most pages every page
Table of contents: missing frustrating minimal helpful excellent
Index: none confusing adequate nice a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Writing history: beginner writer/journalist food writer writing cook personality
Cooking heritage: unknown self-taught teacher chef celebrity
Fulfills ambitions: falls short satisfactory successful exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward good friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: This is the fourth in a series of Japanese cookbooks by Kentaro Kobayashi, produced for the Japanese market and translated into English, a book in which he endeavors to present "the true power of vegetables."

These recipes are not strictly vegetarian or vegan – there is a little dried fish here and there, some canned seafood, and a bit of milk. Nor are these strictly Japanese, to our way of thinking, that is unless pizza, Caesar Salad, tacos, gazpacho, potato gratin, and pasta carbonara, etc., are inherently Japanese. There are tons of recipes, though, that have probably not seen much light of day outside Japan.

The chapters cover curries, salads, main dishes, soups, pastas, and a category that nearly defies description – "Simply Chic," which are simple side dishes meant to showcase the natural flavors of vegetables.

As straight English translations, we have found unusual measurements in all the books in this series – 4/5ths of a cup, a half tablespoon – but in general, they seem to be getting better. You will need a kitchen scale, as some measurements are in ounces. You certainly will have a challenge finding some ingredients (a can of quail eggs, myoga ginger bud, thin fried tofu), unless you live on top of a Japanese market or are an extraordinary online hunter, but there are lots of opportunities for substitutions, and perhaps you can be a little casual with the measurements, too. The instructions themselves are a bit loose here and there, but in some cases, the photos will help answer your questions.

To us, some of these portion sizes are very small – a 3-egg omelet that serves 3, for example – but perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here.

There is a background on a couple of pages that makes a few recipes almost illegible. You would rather put your effort into preparing those recipes than struggling to read them. Otherwise, it's a very attractive book.


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