This year has been fabulous for Asian cookbooks. I am not just talking about Asian Tofu! It’s in fine company with an outstanding group of 2013 publications. While I’ve checked out Tracey Lister and Andreas Pohl’s Vietnamese Street Food and Charles Phan’s Vietnamese Home Cooking, I hadn’t had the chance to dive into the non-Vietnamese ones, until now. This fall, I was out of town for five weeks total. Phew, I’m back home working on the banh mi cookbook. In between, I’m trying out recipes from autumn Asian cookbook releases that caught my eye.
The first one is Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s Japanese Farm Food, a work that takes a non-fussy, matter-of-fact approach to Japanese cooking. Nancy lives in Japan, where she teaches home cooking and is married to an organic farmer. Their life is filled with straightforward food, much of which is detailed in the cookbook. It’s a highly personal work, not meant to be strict and authoritative, but casual and inviting. You can tell that Nancy put a lot of love into her book. Some recipes require a trip to a Japanese market but others, like this fried ginger chicken recipe (tori no kara age) are a doable with supermarket ingredients. Plug in where you want and can. Sometimes the instruction are opaque and a little finesse is required. For example, when the oil temperature for frying the chicken wasn't specified, I clipped on a thermometer. The recipe had charming cues but I wanted a little more accuracy.
I chose this recipe because frankly, I never get enough kara age when I order it at Japanese restaurants. My husband and I politely divide up however much there is on the plate. Making it at home was a fine workaround. We both got our fill.