Behind Monaco, Japan ranks 2nd on the list of countries with the highest life expectancy. To put that ranking in relatively more meaningful terms, the United States ranks 43rd. Quite the disparity if you ask us. Say what you will about grass-fed this and organic that. The numbers don’t lie. And why? Because the Japanese are well known for their diets consisting of fresh fish, wholesome grains, and lightly prepared meals overall — street food not included. And with the popularity of said street foods on the rise (here’s to you, ramen) we figured a little insight into traditional Japanese cooking could do us all some good. Not only to enhance our longevity here on Earth but to facilitate some added creativity in the kitchen outside of the traditional fare.
From here, it’s worth noting that there’s so much more to Japanese cuisine than sticky rice, meaty broths, and raw fish. All it takes is a little research and willingness to gracefully step into the culture behind the dishes themselves. Because, at its core, that’s what food is all about; a fingerprint of a landscape, history, and culture of a people within a specific region on our planet. So, if transporting across the Pacific to the Land of the Rising Sun is desired, dive into any one of these fantastic Japanese cookbooks below and get acquainted with a civilization that predates ours by over 1,000 years.
Anyone who’s even vaguely familiar with the culinary arts has heard of David Chang. A master of his craft, the writer/chef has introduced a series of award-winning restaurants in the greater NYC area — Momofuku included. Here, with this elegant cookbook, authors David Chang and Peter Meehan offer up stunning recipes from the acclaimed restaurant alongside humorous yet insight anecdotes and storytelling. You’ll have a hard time topping this New York Times bestseller.
Japanese Soul Cooking
Yet another homage to the anti-sushi street food lifestyle of Japan, this meaty cookbook replaces fresh fish with gyoza, sashimi with tonkatsu, and steamed rice with furai. It’s a great time to be a home cook in the States —especially if hearty meals are of the utmost importance. Here, authors Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat offer up flavorful and crave-worthy dishes accompanied by rich photography to capture the essence of these recipes in everyday life.
Trust us, there’s more to Japanese noodle recipes than just ramen. For proof of that notion, allow James Beard Award-winning chef Takashi Yagilhashi to help expand your mind into the world of traditional Japanese noodle dishes. Aptly named Takashi’s Noodles, this cookbook hosts upwards of 75 different recipes from the chef himself — all ranging from quick eats to elegantly sophisticated dishes. It’s a wonderfully aesthetic experience for the interested home cook.
Over the past few years, Ramen has taken the American restaurant scene by storm. But what about its origins and authentic eateries in Japan that served the dish long before we started posting top-down photos of the presentation across social media? Ivan Ramen is a must-have look into one of Tokyo’s most iconic and loved ramen restaurants of the same name. In addition to key recipes for crafting the dish at home, this narrative is an expository piece of artwork that profiles Ivan Orkin’s traditional take on ramen as well as an inspiration piece for crafting your own dishes.
For food that’s hearty, good for the soul, and just downright perfect for cold winter days, Naban knocks it out of the park with all the essential eats that warm your heart. Ramen, fried chicken, gyoza, udon, and pork belly buns are among the handful of stick-to-your-ribs dishes outlined in this cookbook. You’ll probably recognize most of the dishes in this piece as well — thanks in part to the surge in popularity this cuisine has enjoyed in recent years. Ideal for any lover of Japanese food.
It wasn’t until 1975 that Americans were even exposed to Japanese cuisine. However, we can thank Elizabeth Andoh — a graduate of the Yanagihara School of Classical Cuisine in Tokyo — for her write-up in Gourmet Magazine for our initial exposure decades ago. Now, the famed author has released this thought-provoking tribute to one of the world’s most distinctive cuisines. Recipes for soups, rice dishes, noodles, meat, poultry, seafood, and desserts are all present in spades — along with rich storytelling.
As one of Japan’s most popular food writers, Harumi Kurihara offers up more than 60 homestyle recipes specifically for Westerners looking to break into the Japanese food scene. And when we say homestyle, we mean exactly that: recipes for delicious home eats and plates to share with friends and family. Not only that, but the overall simplicity of Harumi’s recipes demonstrate how easy it is to cook Japanese food on a regular basis. Here, we find recipes for soups, starters, snacks, party dishes, family feasts, and main courses that you can make right from the comfort of your home.
Over 25 years old, this is one Japanese cookbook that’s stood the test of time, staring down fleeting trends and gimmicks only to prove that iconic dishes are here to stay. Now updated with a new forward by Gourmet Editor-in-Chief Ruth Reichl, Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art harnesses all that is to be admired about the culinary art of traditional meals that are now within reach of Western household cooks.
Japan: The Cookbook
More of a culinary anthology than a traditional cookbook, this elegant tome of eats hosts over 400 recipes by revered food writer Nancy Singleton Hachisu. The entire book is conveniently organized by course alongside stunning imagery and helpful notes to coincide with the more complex recipes. Hachisu leaves no stone unturned either — serving up delicious soups, noodles, rice dishes, pickles, one-pots, vegetables, and sweets for the taking. This one is certainly worth adding to the cookbook collection.
Mastering the Art Of Japanese Home Cooking
Masaharu Morimoto not only knows how to make flavorful Japanese fare but he is also expertly skilled in expediting his culinary prowess in stunning presentations. Thankfully, the chef and author has graciously shared his secrets in this artistically-driven cookbook. In this instance, more than 150 color photos complement the carefully-crafted selection of premier recipes to bring the elegant culinary experience of Japanese fine dining to your dinner table.
The 30 Best Kitchen Gadgets For The Home Chef
You’ve got the guide, now it’s time to get the tools. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered with this hefty roundup of the best kitchen gadgets for the home chef. Now, there’s no recipe you can’t conquer.