The Japanese Larder: Bringing Japanese Ingredients into Your Everyday Cooking, written by Luiz Hara, features over 100 fun and innovative recipes using favorite Japanese ingredients. Highlights include Sweet Red Bean and Ricotta Swirl Rolls, Crispy Duck and Glass Noodle Salad, Chilled Edamame and White Miso Cream with Tarragon, Matcha Gin Sour, Yuzu Brioche Toasties, and Buta no Kakuni (Pork Belly Squares in Cider, Soy Sauce, and Brown Sugar). I will also be sharing his recipe for Japanese Mochi Cheesebreads following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Jacqui Small in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Luiz Hara is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, food and travel writer, and creator of The London Foodie blog. He is currently based in London, England. His work has been featured in The Independent, The Evening Standard, The Guardian, Time Out London, BBC Good Food Channel, and The Telegraph. This is his second cookbook. He is also the author of Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way.
The Japanese Larder
The Chapters are divided according to the type of ingredient: Chapter 1 (Japanese Key Seasonings), Chapter 2 (Dried, Fermented and Preserved Japanese Ingredients), Chapter 3 (Japanese Spices, Condiments, and Garnishes), Chapter 4 (Japanese Rice, Noodles and Tofu), Chapter 5 (Japanese Fruit and Vegetables), Chapter 6 (Japanese Tea and Other Beverages), and Chapter 7 (Sauces, Marinades and Garnishes).
In The Japanese Larder, Luiz focuses on notable Japanese ingredients in an effort to demystify them and show their versatility in everyday cooking. He begins with an incredibly detailed in-depth guide to the most common seasonings with a closer look at the history behind each item and their importance. The accompanying photos are particularly helpful to those who have not used these staples before. You will even find a collection of recipes for basic sauces, marinades, garnishes, and stocks to help elevate your meals.
The photography is provided by Simon Smith with food styling by Luiz Hara and prop styling by Lucy Harvey. Every single recipe is accompanied by a beautifully styled, full page photo of the finished dish. There are even a few step-by-step photos to help illustrate the proper technique for making soy milk, tofu, udon noodles, and onigirazu. Titles are written in English and Japanese when applicable (both kanji/kana and romanized). Measurements are listed in Metric and US Customary. Each recipe has a headnote with background information, tips, menu ideas, serving size, and a list of notable ingredients bolded under the title.
This book is a great pick for those looking for both unique and a few traditional recipes using Japanese ingredients. There is a diverse assortment of weeknight meals alongside more intricate recipes perfect for entertaining or date nights. Having a market specializing in Japanese ingredients nearby will be helpful for locating items such as Mirin, sake, nori, dashi powder, kinako flour, usukuchi shoyu, yukari (purple shiso seasoning), umeboshi, okara, shimeji mushrooms, miso, mentaiko, black tobiko caviar, adzuki beans, yuzu kosho, and more.
Japanese Mochi Cheesebreads
Luiz came across Japanese Mochi Cheesebreads during a recent trip to Japan. Similar to the Brazilian Pão de Queijo, but made with glutinous rice flour (mochiko or shiratamako) as opposed to tapioca flour, these little cheesy rolls have a wonderfully light and chewy texture.
The dough is fairly easy to handle. Rice flour and baking powder are mixed together with salt, then combined with the frothy egg, milk, butter, and grated cheese (both Cheddar and Parmesan) until the dough comes together. Each piece (20-30 depending on if you want them smaller or a little larger) is formed into a ball and baked until lightly golden. The Japanese Mochi Cheesebreads are best warm from the oven after cooling down just enough to not burn when taking a bite.
The balls of dough can be frozen and baked straight from the freezer (a couple of minutes may need to be added to the cooking time). Just arrange in a single layer on a lined baking sheet, then transfer to a freezer-safe bag when solid until ready to use.
Mochiko is a sweet rice flour used in Japanese cuisine. This starchy, gluten-free flour, also known as galapong in the Philippines, is made from sticky sweet rice. The most common use for mochiko is mochi (Japanese rice cake). I have been able to find Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour in the international section of larger grocery stores and Asian food markets.
I also made Oyakodon (Poached Chicken and Egg in Dashi and Soy Broth Served on White Rice), Brown Butter and Miso Linguine, Ramen Noodles, and Iced Matcha Espresso Latte.
Oyakodon is a classic homestyle dish and one of my favorite comfort foods. It comes together easily, making it perfect for a weeknight meal. Chicken pieces and lightly beaten eggs are poached in a seasoned dashi broth and served over rice with chives, nori, and sansho pepper.
The Brown Butter and Miso Linguine is another quick and easy meal packed with flavor. Al dente pasta is tossed in a buttery miso sauce and topped with toasted pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and micro parsley or basil (I added a little purple basil from my garden).
I have created dozens of different kinds of homemade pasta, but never once thought to make my own Ramen Noodles! I was so happy to come across this recipe. Baking soda is baked in the oven, then mixed with water, flour, and a little salt to form a smooth dough. After resting for an hour, the dough flattened using a pasta machine (or by hand), then cut into noodles with the spaghetti setting. The flavor was spot on and a wonderful addition to soup.
The Iced Matcha Espresso Latte has all of my favorites layered into one drink. Sweetened condensed milk is combined with whole milk and poured into the bottom of the glass. The milk is topped with matcha, then finished off with espresso (the top two layers weren’t as defined the first time I made it, but it was still quite delicious and I am starting to get better with more practice). This has since become a frequent drink at home.
Japanese Mochi Cheesebreads (Japanese Pão de Queijo) Recipe
Excerpt from The Japanese Larder
Japanese Mochi Cheesebreads
- 200 grams (7 oz, 1 3/4 cups) glutinous rice flour mochiko or shiratamako
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large egg beaten
- 50 milliliters (2 fl oz, 1/4 cup) whole milk
- 50 milliliters (2 fl oz, 1/4 cup) melted butter or sunflower oil
- 50 grams (1 3/4 oz) Parmesan cheese grated
- 150 grams (5 1/2 oz) mature Cheddar cheese grated
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4.
- Mix the rice flour and baking powder with the sea salt in a bowl until well combined.
- Break the egg into a separate bowl and beat it with a whisk until lightly frothy.
- Add the egg to the flour mix, followed by the milk, melted butter or sunflower oil and both grated cheeses. Knead the dough until all the ingredients are completely incorporated into a firm dough. Do not worry if the dough seems too dry at the start, it will take about 5 minutes of kneading for it to bind together.
- Cut the dough into 20-30 equal parts and roll them into individual balls with your hands. Place them on a baking tray (sheet) lined with baking (parchment) paper or into a non-stick muffin tin and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Transfer the cheesebreads to a cooling rack and let them cool down slightly before eating. They are best eaten while hot.