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The Chopsticks Diet

The Japanese Kitchen

Japanese Pure and Simple

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Cookbook Collection:
Kimiko Barber

On this page:

The Chopsticks Diet

The Japanese Kitchen

Japanese Pure and Simple

The Chopsticks Diet

I guess that just the word “diet” will have half of my dear readers turning the page (if they were able to do such a thing on a website) and the other half waiting with bated breath for the next word that will change their lives completely. For those diet-haters I ask you to read on. For those who expect a magic solution for weight loss with no effort I must tell you there will never be one, but you might just find that this book helps.

The Chopsticks Diet Kimiko Barber is an award-winning author of books on Japanese cooking. The Chopsticks Diet is slightly different from others of Kimiko that I have reviewed. They focused on taste and some of the renowned health-giving properties of Japanese food. The Chopsticks Diet takes a slightly different and rather revolutionary approach, that of the combination of appropriate foods and the use of chopsticks.

The dishes that Kimiko offers are tempting to the taste buds and a feast for the eye. I am not a great lover of health foods that are bland and unappetising. We shouldn’t consider weight problems as an illness that can only be treated by unpleasant medicine in the shape of unpalatable meals. That just feels like punishment and reinforces the impression that we have been “bad”.

The key is in the title “Chopsticks”. If you use chopsticks to eat your food (OK, we will exclude soup) then you are bound to lose weight. You will naturally eat slower and take smaller mouthfuls and this fools you into thinking that you have eaten more than you have. Meals will be smaller but you will not feel deprived or hungry.

Yes, you could continue to eat your habitual foods with chopsticks and you would probably lose some weight, but how much nicer it is to enjoy a dish that is attractive and looks like it SHOULD be eaten with chopsticks. If you are going to make changes then have some fun.

The recipes in The Chopsticks Diet are enticing. There are just a few uniquely Japanese ingredients but they will be readily available from larger high street supermarkets, or online if you are a computer-savvy shopper. The basics are fresh vegetables, fish and noodles and will be healthful even if eaten with a fork.

The Domburi recipes are perhaps my favourite. The Chopsticks Diet has a selection of these dishes that are quick and easy to prepare. It’s rice with a variety of toppings and I think Domburi should be as well-publicised as its cousin, sushi. Egg and Spinach Domburi is comfort food Japanese style. The egg creates a sauce for the rice and gives a marvellously silky texture. A classic.

The Chopsticks Diet is a fresh and welcome approach not only to weight loss but to healthy eating in general. The recipes are stunning but not difficult. Gone are the days of cardboard crackers and calorie counters. Eat well and enjoy your food. It’s doing you good.

The Chopsticks Diet
Kimiko Barber
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £12.99
ISBN 978-1-85626-826-4

food and travel reviews Kimiko Barber

The Japanese Kitchen

The Japanese KitchenKimiko Barber has produced a book which is bound to become a classic. It’s stunning to look at with a wealth of marvellous photographs by Martin Brigdale which make it appealing to anyone interested in either Japanese food or culture.

The Japanese Kitchen is an encyclopaedia with recipes...or a cookbook with amazing information about Japanese ingredients. Either way it’s a detailed and well-researched volume of 100 ingredients and 200 recipes both classic and contemporary.

Part 1 consists of an introduction to the history and culture of Japan. You’ll want to read this as it puts the food into perspective. Part 2 is all about the ingredients. It’s true that there are some unfamiliar ones here but you’ll find them in many Asian food stores and they will be worth trying.

Japanese dishes are not just raw fish, rice and noodles, although these do play a big part. It’s a complex and sophisticated cuisine but not necessarily difficult to master. There are very few techniques that will be challenging but presentation is important: simple yet striking.

Spring onions might not be the first Japanese ingredient to spring (if you’ll pardon the pun) to mind but here they are used in two simple but typically Japanese recipes. Negi Toro (Spring Onion and Tuna) is one of the most popular fillings and toppings for sushi.  The spring onion and pork stir fry is quick, has few ingredients and would be a delicious dinner served with noodles.

It’s no surprise that there are some delightful seafood dishes. The Japanese are passionate about seafood of every kind and have some of the most exciting and flavourful recipes. Squid with Salmon Roe is light and zesty with lemon. Deep fried squid in batter is a classic and is crisp and succulent, and just right with drinks or as part of a traditional tempura.

There is a list of Japanese food suppliers with addresses, phone numbers and a few web sites. If you can’t find Japanese ingredients near you then you will be able to get them on line. It will be worth taking the trouble just to enjoy a truly different culinary experience.

“An excellent book” says celebrated food writer Jill Dupleix and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s exceptional.

Asian cookbook review: The Japanese Kitchen
Author: Kimiko Barber
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £14.99
ISBN 978-1-85626-769-4

food and travel reviews Kimiko Barber

Japanese Pure and Simple

It’s fair to say that Kimiko Barber is the undisputed queen of Japanese cooking in the UK, and this book is just another illustration of why.

Japanese pure and Simple Japanese Pure and Simple has over 100 health-giving recipes that are simple and flavourful and a feast for both the eyes and the palate. The photographs by Jan Baldwin are gorgeous, giving the large format book an overall feel of elegance.

Kimiko presents Japanese food as nourishing, balanced and seasonal. The fresh ingredients are tinkered with as little as possible to retain nutrients and texture. There is evidently something to be said for that philosophy as the Japanese have the highest life expectancy in the world.

The recipes are divided into various categories such as Soup, Fish, Poultry, Rice etc and they are a marvellous selection, but my favourite dishes are the Japanese Hotpots. These take fondue to new heights of sophistication and have the advantage of being good for you. There is the usual process of cooking raw meats and veggies in a stock but then you are left with a richer and more flavourful broth than you started with. Anyone who has a little space at the end of the Hotpot can finish that broth with the addition of rice or noodles.

Teriyaki dishes are always popular. They are easy to prepare and have that sweet rich flavour that is irresistible. Teriyaki Pork Steak is one of those dishes that you’ll make often as either part of a Japanese meal or served with western vegetables or salads. The ingredients are easy to find and not expensive, and once the sauce is made you can keep it for a while in the fridge. It works equally well with lamb chops but I love it with chicken breasts.

The Japanese are renowned for the exquisite presentation of food and Kimiko has thoughtfully given us some pointers. You don’t need to invest in new crockery although I think that a small Sake flask and cups adds a hint of authenticity. Use your usual plates but don’t pile on the food, rather create landscapes with plenty of space and artful use of garnish. Very Zen!

Kimiko Barber writes books that are full of advice to enable you to prepare truly beautiful but healthy food with surprising ease. Choose the freshest produce and enjoy these delightful dishes.

Asian cookbook review: Japanese Pure and Simple
Author: Kimiko Barber
Published by: Kyle Cathie
Price: £14.99
ISBN 1-85626-665-6

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