When I first moved back to the states from Japan, I missed the food something awful.
But my Japansickness wasn’t limited to edible pleasures. I also missed all of my beloved Japanese (and Canadian, etc.) friends, and I was shocked by how much I missed speaking and listening to Japanese.
When you’re a language nerd like I am, and you’ve immersed yourself in hours and hours of language study– only to suddenly be removed from the context of being able to use any of that knowledge– you feel a little out of place and a little useless.
Then something perfect came along. Something that allowed me to put that Japanese knowledge to use, while thinking, listening, reading, and translating about food all day long…
A Cook’s Journey to Japan: Fish Tales and Rice Paddies.
100 Homestyle Recipes from Japanese Kitchens
I was contacted by Sarah Marx Feldner, the baker behind Treat Bake Shop, to help with some translations for her upcoming Japanese cookbook.
And not just any Japanese cookbook, but a straightforward and mouth-watering collection of Japanese homestyle recipes; a cookbook to be treasured.
I’m a little embarrassed that it’s taken me so long to share my love of this cookbook (and my small role* in its creation) here with you.
I’ve used it quite a bit. Besides the Soy-Glazed Chicken Wings and the Quick Japanese Pickles that I’ve shared with you below, I’ve enjoyed Sarah’s recipes for her Sesame Salad Dressing, Get-Well-Soon Udon Soup, and Ginger-Simmered Chicken (Chikuzenni). Now that I have an ice-cream maker, I am tempted to try out her recipe for Green Tea Ice Cream with Black Sugar Syrup as well.
It’s my favorite kind of cookbook: bursting with beautiful photographs (including step-by-step photos for many of the recipes). Sarah includes a clear introduction to simple Japanese cooking techniques and a handful of personal anecdotes about how she first encountered many of the dishes in Japan, as she set off in search of the tastiest of everyday classic and regional recipes to add to her cookbook.
In her cookbook adventures/research, Sarah traveled from the southern tip of Kyushu to the northern tip of Honshu. Across Japan, Sarah was invited into the homes and kitchens of friends and welcoming strangers alike, who were happy to share the methods for their favorite Japanese home-cooked recipes.
The book features favorite Japanese classics, like Barazushi (Sushi Rice with Toppings), Tonkatsu (Breaded Pork Cutlets), and Japanese Curry Rice (Kare Raisu), as well as regional specialties like Scallops with Miso and Eggs (from Aomori Prefecture), Oyaki Vegetable-Stuffed Rolls (from Nagano Prefecture), and “Katsuo no Tataki” Fried Eggplant Salad (from Kochi Prefecture).
I could go on about this cookbook for a while, but instead I’ll just say that Sarah has brought together a collection of recipes, many of which are for dishes that you most likely couldn’t find in a Japanese restaurant– in the U.S. at least– even if you tried… They represent the regional, everyday home-cooking of Japan at its best: simple, affordable, comfort food recipes to keep coming back to.
~~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY [Now CLOSED] ~~~~~~~
I am thrilled that Sarah has generously offered to give away one copy of her cookbook, A Cook’s Journey to Japan, to one lucky giveaway winner!
Since publishing her Japanese cookbook, Sarah has gone on to create Treat Bake Shop, where she is busy roasting her popular gourmet candied spiced pecans, so I’m delighted that she’s taking the time to participate in this giveaway.
(NOTE: This giveaway is open to those with a U.S. mailing address, only.)
FOLLOW TWO STEPS TO ENTER:
1. “Like” both Spontaneous Tomato and Treat Bake Shop on Facebook.
2. Leave a comment on this post (to let me know that you’ve liked both pages and that you’re entering).
If you’d like, you can also tell me the Japanese dish that you’d most like to learn how to make! (…or just your favorite one to eat.)
This giveaway is open through Midnight (U.S. PST) on Sunday, Oct. 21st, and the winner will be chosen by random number generator– and notified via e-mail (the address you use to comment)– during the day on Monday, Oct. 22nd.
Best of luck!
The recipes I’m sharing with you below both come from A Cook’s Journey to Japan, though with Sarah’s Soy-Glazed Chicken Wings recipe, I couldn’t resist the Korean cuisine-influenced impulses to spice up half of the chicken wings with kochugaru (chili powder) and to serve the chicken with pickles and beer.
This is the kind of meal that takes me back. I think you’ll find that it’s also simple to make. Enjoy!
* Some of my work for Sarah involved translating from photocopied Japanese recipes or hand-written notes, which she then tested and adapted. But a good chunk of it also involved translating a stack of CDs of extended home cooking sessions that Sarah had recorded in various kitchens of northern Japan. Most of the audio recordings I translated featured older Japanese women moving about their kitchens and explaining (to Sarah) that “now you pour in this much soy sauce, then add about this much salt,” or “then you shape the rice like this.” (So it’s a good thing that Sarah was there for the visuals and took good notes!)
Print both recipes.
Soy-Glazed Chicken Wings
Barely adapted from A Cook’s Journey to Japan by Sarah Marx Feldner.
(Serves 2 as an entrée; 6 as an appetizer)
~ 1½ – 2 lbs chicken wings
~ ¼ cup soy sauce
~ 2 Tbsp. grated garlic, or to taste
~ 2 Tbsp. grated ginger, or to taste
~ 2 Tbsp. sake
~ 1½ Tbsp. sugar
~ 1-2 tsp. kochukaru (Korean chili powder), I used 1 tsp. for half of the chicken
How to make it:
1. Prepare the chicken wings: Use a sharp knife to cut off the wing tip and discard. Then cut into the skin between the two larger sections of the wing until you hit the joint. Bend the sections apart to pop and break the joint, then cut through the skin and flesh to completely separate the two sections (the wing and the drumette) of each wing.
2. Make the marinade: use a large resealable plastic bag– or two small bags, if you’re dividing the chicken in half to make one batch spicy. Shake together the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sake, sugar, and optionally the kochukaru in the plastic bag(s) until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Add the prepared wings and drumettes to the bag(s), seal, and refrigerate. Marinate for half a day to overnight, tossing occasionally.
4. Bring the chicken to room temperature for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange an oven rack only 3-5 inches from the top of the oven, and set the oven broiler to high.
5. Place the marinated chicken on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Broil for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp and browned, but not burnt. (There’s no need to flip the wings over, but you may want to rotate the baking sheet halfway through cooking.) Serve warm (with Japanese pickles and beer!).
Print these recipes!
Quick and Easy Pickles (Tsukemono)
From A Cook’s Journey to Japan by Sarah Marx Feldner.
(Serves 4-6 as a side dish or snack)
~ 2-3 Japanese cucumbers, thinly sliced on the diagonal
~ ½ tsp. salt (or a dash or two more, to taste)
How to make it:
Combine the sliced cucumber and salt in a small, resealable plastic bag, and shake gently to coat the cucumber in the salt. Let stand about 15 minutes– shaking gently once or twice– before serving.
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Related recipe posts:
> Zaru Soumen for a Summer Night
> Ochazuke (Rice with Green Tea)
> Easy Korean Broiled Bulgogi Chicken