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A Cook's Journey to Japan:
Fish Tales and Rice Paddies/100 Homestyle Recipes from Japanese Kitchens

By Sarah Marx Feldner; Photos by Noburu Murata
ISBN: 4805310111
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Publication date: April 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Number of recipes: 100
List price: $27.95
Type: Ethinc/Regional: Japanese
Sample recipe: Dofujiru [Mixed Tofu Soup]
Ambitions
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
Content
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/mostly color
Art contribution: disappointing distracting decorative beautiful glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Diet/Nutrition/Health
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
Author
Writing history: beginner writer/journalist food writer writing cook personality
Cooking heritage: unknown self-taught teacher chef celebrity
Summary
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: We love any cookbook that includes a map. For us, most really good cookbooks are characterized as much by a sense of place and personality as by their recipes. A Cook's Journey to Japan has all three.

Sarah Marx Feldner obviously set out with the intention of making Japanese cooking accessible to Westerners, and to a great extent has succeeded. After college, she moved to Japan, and subsequently spent time traveling to various parts of the country, collecting recipes from everyday Japanese people, and their stories.

For all its simplicity or purity, Japanese cooking is not the easiest for Westerners. There are unfamiliar ingredients, a number of steps, and often one of more related recipes required to garnish or produce one dish – in that regard, it reminds us a bit of French cooking. But there's no point in contemplating Japanese cooking unless you're willing to make a commitment, and unless you have some access to a Japanese or Asian market or are a fearless online shopper.

The book features essential sections on ingredients, tools and utensils, and cooking techniques, before launching into the recipes, which are divided into chapters: basic recipes, snacks and salads, soups, rice and noodles, poultry and meat, seafood, vegetables and tofu, and desserts and drinks. Clearly, the recipes are meant to be authentic, varied, and as simple as possible. Although including dishes prepared for Feldner by innkeepers and professional chefs, these are primarily meant to represent the way the Japanese cook and eat at home.

There are also a dozen suggested menus for combining dishes, for a picnic, light lunch, appetizer party, vegan feast, sushi party, potluck dinner, etc. The author often offers recommended substitutions for ingredients that may be too difficult or troublesome to track down. We think it's a lovely introduction to Japanese cooking.



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