Sunday, 4 May 2014

Japanese Soul Cooking, review and giveaway

Japanese Soul Cooking: Ramen, Tonkatsu, Tempura and More from the Streets and Kitchens of Tokyo and Beyond by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat aims to show the reader the diversity and range of Japanese cooking.  Many thanks to Jacqui Small Publishing for my review and giveaway copy. I don't know about you, but Japanese food is rarely eaten in my home. I often associate Japanese food with sushi, not homemade sushi, that looks like too much of a faff but sushi from Boots store. So when I received a copy of this book I was pleasantly surprised, not a sushi dish in site. Instead it's time for gyoza, curry, tonkatsu and furai, Japanese comforting food, which according to the authors are regular dishes eaten in every Japanese kitchen and sold by street food vendors in Japan. 

This book is probably the first book which I have where almost all the recipes are unrecognised by me. Not that that's a bad thing, the food pictures in this book are beautiful and each recipe has a story which gives a background to the dish. This beautifully written book inspires me to branch into  Japanese cooking and I hope to share more recipes from this book on my blog shortly. It helps that one of my favourite supermarkets, Asda have a world food aisle and features Japanese staples which are used in recipes in this book. I have made a curry dish, titled retro curry, who knew Japanese cuisine has curry dishes, certainly not me. This is very different to Indian curry, I liked the sweet, rustic and rich nature of the retro curry and although it it longer than some of my weekday dishes, made a refreshing chance to my bog standard meals. 

This is a comprehensive cookbook and contains many chapters which are as follows:
  • Ramen - stand out dishes include Prawn Wonton Men - similar to prawn dumplings and Tan Tan Men - a style of ramen inspired by super spicy Sichsunese-style noodles.
  • Gyoza - dishes to try include soup gyoza with chicken.
  • Curry - retro curry, this is an old school Japanese which is sweet savoury and rich, and battleship curry curry which was served every Friday on Hachijo ship.
  • Tonkatsu - stand out dishes include Classic Tonkatsu which similar looking to a Schitznu served with white rice. 
  • Furai and Korokke, dishes to try include Kani Cream Korokke crab with savoury bechamel sauce and deep fried.
  • Kara-Age stand out dishes include Nagoya Tebasaki - deep fried marinaded chicken wings 
  • Tempura dishes to try include lemon sole tempura - fish in a tempura batter and prawn shiiitake kaki-age 
  • Okonomiyaki stand out dishes include Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki - layered dish of noodles, fried eggs pork and cabbage.
  • Donburi - Stand out dishes include Tendon a dish dating back from 1837 which is crispy tempura over steaming rice
  • Soba - stand out dish kamo nanban soba duck breasts, wasabi in Soba soup. 
  • Udon - Curry Udon - Japanese pork curry with noodles
  • Itame and Chahan - Saikoro steak- diced steak served with white rice.
  • Yoshoku - my favourite chapter Yoshoku steak - western style steak with homemade chips and napolitan spaghetti Japanese version of the classic dish. 
Here is how my retro curry turned out:

Recipe for retro curry.
Serves 4 with leftovers
450g stew beef (or any cut of beef you desire), cut into bite-sized cubes
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 tablespoons butter
450g medium onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
225g carrots
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon grated garlic
1 large apple
1.2 litres (5 cups) of beef stock
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons garam masala, an aromatic Indian spice mixture
350g potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
Steamed rice to serve

Season the beef with 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large pot over a medium heat.
Add the beef and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes, until the meat browns (to lock the flavour). Add the onion, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the carrots, ginger and garlic, and cook and stir for 2 more minutes. Add the apple, stock and remaining 1 teaspoon of the salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
While the ingredients are simmering, preparing the roux. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. The flour will first bind to the butter, then the mixture will break apart, and look like large blonde crumbs. At this point, add the curry powder and garam masala and stir for 2 more minutes, until roux releases a heady, toasted curry fragrance. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside.
Once the ingredients have simmered for 1 hour, add the potatoes (Add 125ml of water at this point if the curry seems too dry; it should have consistency of gravy). Scoop a ladelful of liquid from the pot and add it to the roux, mixing together to create a paste. Add the roux paste to the large pot and mix well. Simmer for 20 more minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Mix frequently, scraping the curry from the bottom of the pot, being careful not to burn. When the curry is ready, serve with steamed rice.

The lovely people at Jacqui Small Publishing are giving one reader a copy of this book. 

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