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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Japanese Home Cooking by Maori Murota

Following on from her hugely popular Tokyo Cult Recipes comes this new cookbook by Maori Murota, a Japanese cook who lives in Japan.

Japanese Home Cooking is filled with enticing recipes for traditional everyday dishes that she learnt from her Mother and Grandmother when growing up in Japan as well as her own original recipes inspired by foreign cuisines. She writes :

‘This blend of tradition and fusion is very typical of modern Japanese cuisine.’

In recent years, since the birth of her daughter and the Covid lockdown she has also become much more environmentally aware, loves supporting local producers, making recipes like udon noodles, gyozo dough and fermenting tsukemono pickles from scratch. She cooks fish and meat for her family but as she herself eats a mainly vegan diet she has provided many vegan alternatives.

The result is a cookbook with a wide variety of recipes. Anyone who loves Japanese food will be sure to find some great recipes to their taste.

We love Japanese food and greatly enjoyed visiting Japan for a third time a couple of years ago. One of the many culinary highlights was attending an udon noodle making class in Kotohira. We were persuaded to join in a short dance routine to knead the dough (wrapped in ziplock bags) with our feet! It was hilarious but the noodles turned out to be delicious!

So, I was both surprised and delighted to find that making home-made udon noodles this way was the first recipe in her book.

We have wonderful memories of strolling down the Kuromon Market in Osaka. The traditional wagashi sweets in some of the shops looked so exquisite we just had to buy and try some. I am so looking forward to trying my hand at creating the pretty Strawberry Daifuku in this cookbook.

Bowls of sustaining noodle soup were often a speedy and tasty cheap lunch while we were sightseeing. Her two easy Mentsuyu, Noodle Sauce recipes (one vegan), have the added advantage that if you dilute them, you can use them to make noodle soup. These two recipes will come in very handy when a speedy meal is called for.

I am going to invite the whanau into the kitchen for a cooking session to make Tamari-zushi and then having a feast together. Temari-zushi are small ball-shaped sushi which are easy to make and look so decorative! The bottom part is sushi rice, and the top can be any ingredient you choose. Everyone can choose a favourite topping. Hers include bream, kale, capsicums, or shitake mushrooms but you could let your imagination run wild.

When in Japan we soon developed a taste for Japanese pickles which were served as part of our breakfast every morning alongside steamed rice, miso soup, grilled fish, and other small vegetable side dishes. All this food was served so decoratively in small bowls.

Out of the Sokuseki-zuke, quick pickles, included in this cookbook our favourite so far is Cucumber with ginger. The Sweet-savoury radish with shiokōji and the Turnip with kombu and citrus sound rather intriguing but might have to wait for a while.

Another recipe I have already made are her oven baked sweet potatoes. Halved lengthwise, they were wrapped in tinfoil and roasted in the oven. Once baked, cinnamon and sugar were sprinkled on top followed by a drizzle of two sauces. A final sprinkling of pecans, sumac, lemon zest, dill and sea salt completed the dish and turned an ordinary vegetable into a gourmet vegetarian meal. It sounds more complicated than it actually was and was greatly enjoyed by all.

There are so many other recipes in her book that I can’t wait to try! We love Japanese food so this will definitely be a cookbook that will be used frequently!

Reviewer: Lyn Potter

Murdoch Books


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