I have reviewed many a cookbook and a good number of these have been Japanese, but it’s the first time I have looked up from my half-finished draft to see the author of the object of my labours gracing my TV screen. Reiko Hashimoto is on New British Kitchen and demonstrating sushi. I know that Absolute Press is an amazing publisher but I must add that their timing is impeccable.
Reiko was born in Kyoto to a traditional Japanese family with a mum who has transmitted her own passion for Japanese cooking and food. Reiko moved to the UK to study but instead of going into a dry and boring profession she became an air hostess. She was based in Hong Kong so had all the culinary exposure that metropolis has to offer. Travelling also gave Reiko the opportunity to broaden her gastronomic horizons and she eventually decided on a career in teaching Japanese cooking.
Reiko moved to London and launched a company called ‘HASHI’ offering Japanese cooking courses and catering Japanese food for dinner parties and events. Reiko has now been teaching for over a decade; she offers classes to raw beginners but also to those who have a little more experience.
Although I mentioned that Reiko demonstrated sushi on the “John Torode Show”, she also presented cooked dishes. Sushi and sashimi are common in the UK these days and many people assume that’s all the Japanese eat. In truth there is a large and tempting array of dishes that are healthy and delicious, and the ingredients are available in supermarkets or online.
Hashi – A Japanese cookery course is a big, bold and brilliant book with a chunky square format. Black-edged pages and heavy title type make this a striking volume. Plenty of photography to give a bit of inspiration to the novice home cook, and the majority of the recipes are surprisingly short.
The recipes here are broad-based and do constitute a cookery course. Those unfamiliar with Japanese dishes can hone their skills on the simple dishes before progressing to those which are a little more demanding, although there is nothing here that would terrify the Western home cook.
My favourite recipe is that for Donburi. This is a bowl of hot rice with a topping – a real dinner dish. The author offers several versions of this popular meal but my pick-of-the-bunch is Oyako-Donburi. It’s chicken cooked in dashi, mirin, sugar and saké and then beaten egg is added. Mild and comforting and a hot meal that even the kids will request. That’s gotta be a reason to buy this book.
Hashi – A Japanese cookery course is one of the most accessible Japanese cookbooks around. Reiko lives in London so she is aware of available ingredients and the tastes of the local population. Her experience as a teacher allows her to engage with the reader and encourage them to have a go. A lovely gift for any Japanese food aficionado.
Hashi – A Japanese cookery course
Author: Reiko Hashimoto
Published by: Absolute Press
Asian cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018