I love Japanese food but seldom have I been offered anything other than tempura and sushi. Now, don’t get me wrong, I could eat both those lovely dishes every day but there is more to Japanese food than raw fish and battered vegetables. There is Donburi!
What exactly is this donburi? It’s all about rice. Doesn’t sound very interesting, does it? Top that rice with meat and/or vegetables and perhaps a few noodles and often egg, cooked or not. Those garnishes complement the rice which is held in such high esteem by the Japanese.
The author, Kentaro Kobayashi, is a young man with both talent and passion. He started his working life as an illustrator but soon displayed his flair for food. His motto has always been “easy yet delicious, stylish yet realistic”. He has featured in magazines and on television where he represented the new generation of cooks who wanted taste and texture in no time.
I am a food writer and researcher and frequent eater, and I had oft encountered recipes for Donburi but it was Toronto (no, not Tokyo) that gave me an opportunity to try these tempting dishes for the first time. I chose a chicken donburi which arrived with a sunny egg yolk nestling on top of vegetables and tender meat. I have been searching for such donburi perfection since then.
At last my menu scanning is over and I have help at hand in the guise of Donburi Mania, which houses between its covers 70 recipes for meals that are quick, delicious and healthy. You’ll have dinner ready in the time it takes to cook rice. You can use last night’s leftovers with some fresh vegetables for crunch. It couldn’t be simpler. No exotic equipment needed and more importantly…no special skills.
It’s been difficult for me to select a few recipes to represent donburi. All of Kentaro’s dishes are appealing and encompass a wide range of ingredients. There is plenty here for a vegetarian and for fish lovers but the author will not expect you to follow his ideas meticulously. Donburi is about casual and modern eating so make a few from this book and then invent your own.
Stewed Pork Donburi makes use of cheaper cuts of meat. This recipe is more time-consuming than others as the meat needs to simmer for an hour or so. You don’t have to sit and watch the pork cooking so it hardly constitutes as slaving over a hot stove. The end result of your foreplanning will be a silky and soft preparation that will become a firm favourite. It’s real comfort food that will have you finding excuses to make it.
Chicken Sukiyaki Donburi reminds me of my first encounter. You can use last night’s leftover Sukiyaki (or cook chicken in a sweet soy sauce) so you’ll have a smart meal in less than 20 minutes. The egg yolk might be alarming for the uninitiated but it forms a creamy coating which is rich and luxurious. Be brave.
Donburi Mania – Easy Japanese Cooking is the most comprehensive book around covering just this unique and flavourful dish. I’ll be eating my way through each of Kentaro Kobayashi’s tempting recipes.
Donburi Mania – Easy Japanese Cooking
Author: Kentaro Kobayashi
Published by: Vertical Inc.
Price: £9.99, $14.95US
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018