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Tokyo cult recipes

Even the index of this book looks Japanese. Its neat fonts, clear layout, and they way the dishes are organised two ways - by category and ingredients - has all the order and precision that many equate with Japan. Once you see it, though, planning a meal becomes so much easier. You have clams - go for sake steamed clams. Hijiki seaweed? try the lotus root and hijiki salad or tofu fritters. Duck? Well, there's buckwheat noodle soup with duck. And so on.

 

The author, Maori Murato is Tokyo-born and understands the local dishes inside out. But what she brings to this book, and the dishes she shares, is also an outsider's eye, as she left Japan at 17 and has lived in many places around the world since then.

Self-taught she became a chef in Paris, and now is an event caterer and private chef giving classes in authentic Japanese home cooking.

This world view allows her to second-guess the barriers that many non-Japanese food-lovers have. 'I don't like tofu,' people would say to her, 'it's bland.' She tells them it is important to choose the right tofu for the dish. Miso soup is too salty. 'Make your soup with real dashi stock, and you are sure to change your mind!' she tells them.

This is a big book, a generous one, filled with wonderful pictures, and how-to steps: make rice balls or gyoza like a pro; watch how the soba masters make their noodles; see for yourself the different tyopes of miso; make dashi, cook rice, fill your pantry Japanese-style.

And it's not all about fish and seaweed! There are chiffon cakes and pancakes, dorayaki, and stuffed rice cakes to suit the sweetest tooth.

'Cult recipes' these may be, but my guess is that they will become family favourites and tried and true standards to return to over and over.

 

Tokyo Cult Recipes, by Maori Murota, published by Murdoch Books, 2015, hardcover, rrp $A49.99.

- reviewed by Sally Hammond

 

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