Finally! A cookbook with some recipes that represent what people really eat in Japan. I own several classic Japanese cookbooks that I cook from, but they are not everyday recipes.
Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat really nailed it with their collection of homestyle Japanese cooking the whole family will love.
I borrowed this from my local library, but when I complete my living room bookshelf project, I plan to buy this one for my permanent cookbook collection. You can get a kindle version or hardcopy at Amazon for less than $15.
This cookbook is about 1″ thick and contains recipes for real ramen, gyoza (dumplings), katsu (breaded cutlets), soba & udon needles, and tempura. The recipes are short and simple to follow. The ingredients may be hard to find, but they are not expensive. I tried several of the recipes, and if you like hearty, delicious Japanese food, you will not be disappointed.
These recipes were my favorite:
1. Shoyu Ramen (hot noodles in soy sauce-based broth)
This dish is one that is on my top 10 list to perfect while I live on this earth. I have been to many ramen stations in Tokyo and a few in New York, and I think this is one of the best tasting entrees in the world. Generally, hot pots are my thing, because I love food that is a hot temperature when it arrives at my table. I want to see steam!
Shoyu Ramen requires you to prepare a chicken broth first, then a soy sauce marinade, then noodles & toppings. This cookbook gives you all the instructions. The bonus is the pork recipe. When I served this ramen to my family, they went gaga over the melt-in-your-mouth pork. Pork shoulder meat is very affordable. I bought a 8-lb “Boston Butt” when it was on sale for less than $2/lb. I used only 1-lb for the recipe, and I plan to use the other 7lbs someday on this exact recipe.
The broth took several hours, but the end result was a tasty Shoyu Ramen that I will make again!
2. Gyoza (pork dumplings)
I make dumplings all the time using my own recipe, but this one was close I had to try it. There is one ingredient that cannot easily be found: Nira (Japanese green garlic chives). I only found it one time at a Wegman’s near DC. It was expensive ($8?), and those dumplings were so much better than usual. If you can find it, use it. If not, I just skip it and put in a few scallions instead.
The one thing I did learn new from this book is how to make Gyoza Hane which is a thin crust that looks amazing when you flip your dumplings onto the serving plate.
3. Tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet)
This is a house favorite for us…although I have scaled back on the frequency in which I fry these cutlets in oil. The cookbook shows you exactly how to cook pork plus how to slice the cabbage which always comes on the side if you are going to eat it the Japanese way. On Amazon, I found the downloadable recipe for this cookbook’s Tonkatsu (or Vegetable Tempura or Kitsune Udon) right above the comments section if you want to try a sample from the cookbook!
I cooked their recipe using chicken, rather than pork, and it is delicious too. I did not get to try the sauce recipe, because I buy an off-the-shelf prepared brand (Bulldog) from my local Asian food market. Also, I did not have cabbage, so I cut up some cucumbers. Mayonnaise on top. Add soysauce, and this dish is absolutely perfect.
4. Kake Soba (hot soba noodles)
Nowadays, you can find brown soba noodles in every grocery store’s “international” aisle due to buckwheat being a healthier alternative to pasta. I went to Whole Foods and purchased a couple bundles for this recipe.
The broth is super simple to make if you have all the ingredients. Japanese food is my favorite cuisine, so I keep the soy sauce, dashi, kombu, and mirin in stock. They don’t go bad, and they will last you a while, so invest in them! You can use everything in other recipes from this book.
5. Mentaiko Spaghetti (Spaghetti with spicy cod roe)
Whenever I go to Tokyo, I always get this dish. It is what they serve in the “western-style” pasta restaurants. It is an incredibly odd combination of spicy caviar (mentaiko) with butter, cream, seaweed and spaghetti. It is amazing. To make this at home, you need to find a Japanese supermarket that sells frozen mentaiko. I have not seen this sold in Chinese markets. Mentaiko looks like a tongue, but it is not. It’s a sac of tiny fish eggs that becomes bright red due to the hot pepper spices. You might be gagging at the thought of eating this, but I am telling you – this is the best. The recipe calls for shiso leaves, but if you don’t have any, use nori like I did.
I want to cook the tempura, korokke, and karaage chicken recipes from this book someday. When I do, I will follow up with photos and thoughts.