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The Japanese Kitchen    by Kimiko Barber order for
Japanese Kitchen
by Kimiko Barber
Order:  USA  Can
Kyle Books, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

When is a cookbook not just a cookbook? When it's also a history lesson. In The Japanese Kitchen, Barber offers a fascinating look at Japanese history, culture and more important, culinary development. Starting with the bowl of rice, a staple of just about every Japanese meal, and taking us all the way through to more complex fare such as Broiled Octopus with Sweet Miso Sauce, Barber has elevated the standard cookbook and transformed The Japanese Kitchen into a veritable journey through Japanese cuisine.

In the first 23 pages, Barber's Introduction deals with the history of Japan from its humble roots all the way to the modern kitchen, setting the tone for the recipes to follow. The Japanese Kitchen promises 'over 200 authentic recipes', and it certainly delivers a wide range of exotic meal suggestions. Organized by ingredient, the book begins with a Rice and Beans chapter and ends with Drinks & Confectionary. In between you'll find everything you need to impress your family or guests with a variety of vegetable, tofu and meat dishes. For additional flavor, Barber also offers a number of recipes that highlight the taste of Japanese seasonings and sauces, such as miso and soy sauce.

The Japanese Kitchen allows Western readers to get an authentic glimpse into the taste, preparation techniques and health benefits of Japanese cuisine. And if that weren't enough, the recipes included look surprisingly easy to make. Recipes such as Green Bean Salad with Creamy Tofu Dressing, Baked Salmon Filets Marinated in Sweet Miso, and Sweet Dumplings can all be made quickly, but be aware you may have to go out of your way to find some of the more exotic ingredients mentioned in the book. Full-color pictures on every page add an elegant appeal to the mouthwatering recipes.

The Japanese Kitchen is not just another cookbook. It's a visual guide through the exquisite and exotic cuisine of Japan.

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