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 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
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018