Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Mimsy Review: Japanese Country Cookbook

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, January 25, 1997

Review of Japanese Country Cookbook, with a recipe for Chicken Teriyaki with Sesame.

AuthorRuss Rudzinski
PublisherNitty Gritty Books
Length200 pages
Book Rating5

Japanese Country Cookbook is one of the “nitty gritty” books. I’ve also got The Jewish Gourmet, and I’ve seen The Christmas Cookbook, and haven’t been particularly impressed. The Christmas Cookbook has the way cool typo telling you to take some eggs and “heat well”. The previous owner had—no doubt after an embarrassing mistake—crossed out the “h” in “heat” and replaced it with a b…

The Japanese Country nitty gritty book is different; right from opening it, you can see that it is more finely crafted. It’s the same odd wider-than-tall shape, and from the outside looks like any of the other nitty gritties. Inside, however, the paper is textured brown, a bit harder to read but very beautiful. The illustrations are tastefully done, in what the author claims is a “traditional” style.

These are not recipes for the highly stylized, ritualistic meals generally associated with Japanese eating. This is “peasant” food: country cooking, and both easier to prepare and less imposing to the eye. “Those who are without servants and have little leisure time cannot admire every carrot slice.”

He starts out with the “standards”: sukiyaki, tempura, teriyaki. He then branches into vegetables uses: daikon, cucumber, kim chee; there are a lot of soups, made with fish, or rice, or eggs; egg dishes, tofu, noodles. One chapter describes simple sushi rolls and how to make them—I had impressive cucumber rolls the first time, and had great compliments at the office Christmas party.

Everything includes cultural background and stories. Koge, for example, is the crisp brown rice that gets stuck on the bottom of the pan if you forget about your rice for a few minutes. Form it into balls, mixed perhaps with toasted sesame, or seaweed, and dipped into shoyu. Unfortunately, “the electric rice cooker is creeping into even the most remote reaches of the rural areas of Japan, and these gadgets unfortunately turn out perfectly cooked rice very time and leave no koge.”

The glossary in the back describes Japanese cooking terms, and, when appropriate, suggests alternatives for use in recipes.

Chicken Teriyaki with Sesame

  • 1 pound chicken breast or thighs in bite-size pieces,
  • 6 tblsp shoyu soy sauce,
  • 6 tblsp sake,
  • 6 tblsp sesame oil,
  • 1 clove crushed garlic,
  • 2 tsp minced ginger,
  • 6 tblsp pan toasted sesame seeds.
  1. Combine all except sesame seeds, marinate an hour (or more, turning a few times).
  2. Drain, skewer on a bambook pick.
  3. Boil for 5-6 minutes, turning once.
  4. Roll in sesame seeds and serve hot.

Japanese Country Cookbook

Russ Rudzinski

My cost: $4.50

Recommendation: Worth reading

If you enjoyed Japanese Country Cookbook…

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For more about Japanese, you might also be interested in Tampopo, The Seven Samurai, and Tokyo Drifter.

For more about Nitty Gritty Books, you might also be interested in The Wok: a chinese cook book.