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Japanese Pure and Simple: over 100 health-giving recipes    by Kimiko Barber order for
Japanese Pure and Simple
by Kimiko Barber
Order:  USA  Can
Raincoast, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Kimiko Barber, who grew up in Japan, knows that 'healthy eating starts at home.' She feels that a nation's cuisine 'has a profound effect on the nation's health' and tells us that Japanese cooking 'is delicious, healthy, and surprisingly easy.' Jan Baldwin's colorful photos (of dishes and, in some cases, preparation techniques) enhance the cookbook.

Barber explains the philosophy of Japanese cooking, and its ties to seasonal cycles. She covers the contents of a Japanese pantry, essential seasonings and utensils, and how to make Dashi stock (from seaweed and dried fish flakes). Recipes (most of which are designed to serve four people) are presented under: Soups; Vegetables; Fresh from the Sea; Poultry and Eggs; Meat; Tofu and Beans; Rice and Sushi; Noodles; Hotpots; Sweets; Sauces and Dressings. At the back of the cookbook are sections on serving and presentation, etiquette, menu composition, and even one on 'How to make a perfect cup of green tea'.

Soups range from clear broths to Roast pumpkin soup with lime and coriander pesto, just the thing for a Fall meal. Most recipes look simple and fast to make. Many include tofu. I especially like the look of a Stir-fry of mangetout and scallops with ginger, Cucumber and steamed chicken salad with sesame ginger dressing, Seared tuna steak with daikon dressing, Crispy duck breast with tangerine sauce on watercress, and Pan-roasted loin of pork soused in soy. I love Japanese dumplings (gyoza) and will definitely try the recipe here. We've often made sushi at home but the section in this cookbook will expand our repertoire. And with cold weather moving in, the Hotpots look like perfect comfort food.

As the author mentions at the beginning, many Westerners, who enjoy eating Japanese food in restaurants, are daunted by the notion of preparing it at home. With Japanese Pure and Simple, Kimiko Barber makes it easy to get started, and to add healthy and delicious Japanese dishes to family meals.

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