Cook by the Book: Let's Cook Japanese!

My last meal on a recent trip to Japan wasn't anything fancy, it was a rice omelet, also known as "omu raisu". I enjoyed this savory and filling dish at the Tokyo Narita airport and it left me even more sorry to be heading home than I was before. Fortunately the recipe for omu raisu, a luscious and creamy omelet filled with tomatoey rice with little chunks of chicken, and many other rustic home-style meals are featured in Let's Cook Japanese Food! by Amy Kaneko.

Let's Cook Japanese Food! focuses on recipes that author Kaneko who lived in Japan, has been able to easily recreate at home in the US, using mostly supermarket ingredients. These are dishes that don't have to be part of an elaborate Japanese meal but can be one pot meals, appetizers or side dishes. Because eating dessert is not an after dinner tradition in Japan you won't find any sweets in the book.

Kaneko's light breezy style will encourage even the frying phobic to take on crunchy treats like tempura, fried marinated chicken, potato and pumpkin croquettes, and crispy fried shrimp. There are also yoshoku dishes, or Japanese-style Western dishes like Japanese style hamburger steak with sauce, creamy macaroni and cheese with shrimp and broccoli and Japanese influenced Chinese dishes like Chinese-style crab omelet with soy sauce gravy and Chinese-style spicy tofu and pork. Try a few dishes and it's likely a few will soon become part your repertoire.

Hiyayako--Cold Tofu with Ginger and Green Onions
Serves 1

4-inch square soft tofu
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon minced green onion, including tender green tops
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce, preferably light soy sauce


Place the tofu in a shallow bowl. Arrange the ginger in a mound on top of the tofu, and sprinkle with the green onion. Let the diner top with soy sauce according to his or her taste.

Recipe from Let's Cook Japanese Food! by Amy Kaneko Photographs by Deborah Ory, Chronicle Books, 2007