The essential guide to Japanese home cooking—the ingredients, techniques, and over 100 recipes—for seasoned cooks and beginners who are craving authentic Japanese flavors.
Using high-quality, seasonal ingredients in simple preparations, Sonoko Sakai offers recipes with a gentle voice and a passion for authentic Japanese cooking. Beginning with the pantry, the flavors of this cuisine are explored alongside fundamental recipes, such as dashi and pickles, and traditional techniques, like making noodles and properly cooking rice. Use these building blocks to cook an abundance of everyday recipes with dishes like Grilled Onigiri (rice balls) and Japanese Chicken Curry.
From there, the book expands into an exploration of dishes organized by breakfast; vegetables and grains; meat; fish; noodles, dumplings, and savory pancakes; and sweets and beverages. With classic dishes like Kenchin-jiru (Hearty Vegetable Soup with Sobagaki Buckwheat Dumplings), Temaki Zushi (Sushi Hand Rolls), and Oden (Vegetable, Seafood, and Meat Hot Pot) to more inventive dishes like Mochi Waffles with Tatsuta (Fried Chicken) and Maple Yuzu Kosho, First Garden Soba Salad with Lemon-White Miso Vinaigrette, and Amazake (Fermented Rice Drink) Ice Pops with Pickled Cherry Blossoms this is a rich guide to Japanese home cooking. Featuring stunning photographs by Rick Poon, the book also includes stories of food purveyors in California and Japan. This is a generous and authoritative book that will appeal to home cooks of all levels.
About the Author
SONOKO SAKAI's cooking reflects her rich cultural upbringing. Born in New York and raised by Japanese parents, she lived in many places as a child, including San Francisco, Kamakura, Mexico City, and Tokyo. She is the author of two books, Rice Craft (Chronicle, 2016) and The Poetical Pursuit of Food (Potter, 1986). She has worked as a recipe developer, producer, creative director, cooking teacher, and lecturer. She is also a grain activist. Sonoko currently lives in Los Angeles and Tehachapi, California, with her sculptor husband, Katsuhisa Sakai.
“A beautifully photographed, clearly written introduction to Japanese cuisine, from a California-based Japanese-American teacher and recipe developer.”—Christine Muhlke, The New York Times
“Heartfelt, poetic. . . . Sakai is particularly good at describing the purity and beauty of Japanese cooking.”—Tara Duggan, The San Francisco Chronicle
“Informative, beautiful, and full of recipes for everyone from the novice chef to the seasoned Japanese home cook.”—Lauren Joseph, Epicurious
“It’s been more than 30 years since Japanese cooking expert Sonoko Sakai’s first cookbook detailing the cooking of her heritage for American audiences. Her follow-up, Japanese Home Cooking: Simple Meals, Authentic Flavors, is worth the wait. Her teachings demystify the art of making soba noodles, and she transforms often ordinary-looking onigiri into beautiful rice spheres wrapped in seaweed and dried flowers. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of simple dishes like chawanmushi and fresh pickles to try out first before diving into more ambitious projects.”—Los Angeles Times
“Sonoko Sakai has long been a champion of Japanese homestyle cooking, and the LA-based author and cooking teacher has written the essential book for favorites like soba, ochazuke, and oden.”—Eater LA
“This book is a treasure trove for anyone hoping to master a few everyday Japanese recipes, yes. But where Sakai really excels is in the digestible lessons on stocking a pantry and understanding the building blocks of Japanese home cooking; she guides you through the five basic seasonings and the practice of noodle making, for example. A teacher and cookbook author, Sakai has approached her work in food with a holistic approach, dedicating herself to the preservation of both Japanese culture and cuisine through cookbooks, classes, and recently, a grain restoration project with Anson Mills.”—Epicurious
“A gentle introduction to the flavors and techniques of Japanese cooking courtesy of Sonoko Sakai, an LA-based teacher and food author. From pantry staples like dashi to Japanese breakfast, learn the fundamentals of home cooking the Japanese way.”—Sunset
“A comprehensive, approachable guide to Japanese cooking at home.”—Remodelista
“Expand a home chef’s borders with Sonoko Sakai’s essential guide to Japanese home cooking.”—Martha Stewart Living
“California-based author-teacher Sakai (The Poetical Pursuit of Food, 1986) delivers, quite simply, everything home chefs need to know to master Japanese home cooking…. The 160 recipes include explicit directions, ingredient notes, and the necessary how-tos, along with color photographs: Grilled rice balls, homemade granola with lucky bean, fish bone soup, spicy duck soba noodles in hot broth, just to name a few….An exhaustive course that will take up no small amount of time and patience—and yield welcome results.”—Booklist (starred review)
"From her home kitchen in Los Angeles, Sakai (The Poetical Pursuit of Food) renders Japanese flavors for the Western cook with exquisite care. She creates basics more often purchased at the supermarket, fermenting miso (for at least six months), kneading soba dough '(Wax on! Wax off!),' and pressing fresh tofu ('one of the tastiest foods in the world'). All of this yields rich rewards in dishes like a spicy soup of crisp-skinned duck and delicate soba noodles, or a simple broth with mushrooms, tofu, and yuzu peel. Throughout, Sakai brings readers along as she explores the ingredients and traditions she and her family carried with them from Japan. Readers are transported to the 300-year-old Tokyo shop where Sakai’s childhood friend had a job shaving woodlike blocks of preserved fish called katsuobushi, which is used to make a dashi broth. A bento box filled with inari zushi (fried tofu filled with sushi rice) and crab cream croquettes evokes Sakai’s schoolgirl days. But, as Sakai says, '[t]he goal is not to stress yourself out but to enjoy the creative process. People will appreciate your labor of love.' Home cooks wanting to dive into Japanese cooking will find Sakai to be a delightful and encouraging guide." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This is a beautiful love letter to the simple, soulful foods that bring together family and tradition, seasonality and sustainability. Sonoko Sakai presents the elements of a home-cooked Japanese meal with thoughtfulness and clarity, honoring the deep culinary heritage of Japan and celebrating the provenance of her local ingredients.”—Alice Waters
"Sonoko Sakai’s passion for the Japanese kitchen is matched only by her generosity as a teacher, and I am so glad to have this book to learn from for the rest of my life."—Francis Lam, Host, The Splendid Table
"Sonoko Sakai’s generous book walks us through the nuance and heritage of Japanese cooking in a comprehensive, useful, and soulful way. Japanese Home Cooking makes it so we can achieve amazing results with ease—even when making homemade soba noodles. This book is a must read for any cook looking to tap into the depth of the Japanese culinary tradition."—Travis Lett, author of Gjelina and chef/owner of MTN
“For anyone interested in Japanese home cooking, you could ask for no better teacher than Sonoko Sakai. Her approach is assured, thoughtful, and flexible, all at once. Her clear-as-a-bell recipes, enhanced always with stories from her singularly interesting life, lead to the most remarkable and delicious results. You need this book!”—Rachel Khong, author of Goodbye, Vitamin