By Lesley Downer
At the Japanese Table: New and Traditional Recipes by Lesley Downer, demystifies the visual artistry, simplicity of preparation, and healthfulness of Japanese cuisine for the home cook.
"Learning about Japanese cooking is like discovering a whole new approach to food. It is also a way of getting to know an exciting and surprisingly little-known country and its culture—for Japan and its cooking are inextricably bound together," writes Downer, one of the foremost authorities of Japanese culture and cooking.
At the Japanese Table includes over 90 easy-to-follow recipes, 16 pages of color photographs, and more than three dozen illustrations of various techniques ranging from carving carrot "flowers" to slicing sashimi. Using the book, readers can create an elaborate kaiseki meal (the haute cuisine of Japan), complete with intricate garnishes, or simply prepare a bowl of noodles with green onions for a casual family supper.
At the Japanese Table is divided into 11 recipe chapters ranging from "Sashimi" to "Grilled, Fried, and Baked Dishes" to "Noodles." The book offers a variety of recipes that include: Satsuma-style Miso Soup with Vegetables, Yakitori (Grilled Chicken Kebabs), Sake-Steamed Sole, and Sumo Wrestler 's Stew.
At the Japanese Table also features descriptions and explanations of the main ingredients, equipment, and techniques used in Japanese cookery. Downer familiarizes readers with Japanese ingredients such as mirin, miso, dried bonito flakes, and the different varieties of seaweeds and mushrooms. Instruction on Eating with Chopsticks to The Structure of a Japanese Meal to Tableware is also included.
At the Japanese Table is more than a cookbook. Downer takes readers on a culinary tour of Japan—to the feasts and festivals, into the homes, the restaurants, the sushi bars, the street stalls, and even the temples for a taste of this popular cuisine. Along the way she explains the history, legend, and lore of the foods. Downer also explores why as a result of their diet, the Japanese live longer than anyone else in the world.
"Japanese food is marvelously light and simply flavored, relying heavily on the quality of ingredients themselves—an art, in fact, which is reassuringly simple to learn," writes Downer who through her encouragement and straight-forward instruction makes creating Japanese cuisine at home approachable and fun.
Lesley Downer is a journalist who speaks fluent Japanese and has written about many different aspects of Japan for both British and American publications. In addition to her widely acclaimed BBC series upon which the book is based, she has taught cooking at Ken Lo's Cookery School in London and is a highly respected lecturer on the subject. Her previous cookbooks include: Step by Step Japanese Cooking and Japanese Vegetarian Cookery. She divides her time between Tokyo and London.
At the Japanese Table:
New and Traditional Recipes
By Lesley Downer
Chronicle Books, September 2001
Paperback, 224 pages, $16.95
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created October 2001
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