Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking, written by Masaharu Morimoto, is filled with traditional and yōshoku (western-style) favorites including Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Rice Balls), Katsu Don (Pork Cutlet and Egg Rice Bowl), Dango Jiru (Japanese Style Chicken and Dumpling Soup), Sakana no Sakamushi (Fish Steamed in Kombu with Spicy Soy Sauce), Buta no Kakuni (Slow-Cooked Pork Belly with Beer-Teriyaki Glaze), and Kabocha Korokke (Squash Croquettes). I will also be sharing his recipe for Hambagu (Japanese-Style Hamburger with Tangy Sauce) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for my 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.
Masaharu Morimoto was born and raised in Hiroshima, Japan. He moved to the United States and became the executive chef of Nobu in New York City before opening Morimoto in Philadelphia. He now has restaurants around the world and has starred on the Japanese television show Iron Chef and the Food Network’s Iron Chef America. Morimoto is also the author of Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking.
Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking
Chapters are divided into the following: Dashi, Gohan (Rice), Supu (Soups), Yaku (To Grill, Broil, and Sear), Musu (To Steam), Niru (To Simmer), Itame Ru (To Stir-Fry), Men (Noodles), Ageru (To Fry), Ae Ru (To Dress), and Tsukeru (To Pickle).
Morimoto begins with an insight into his life at home, the start of his career as a chef, and his introduction to homestyle cooking. He discusses the basics of a Japanese meal including the idea of ichiju sansei (“one soup and three dishes”) and how to bring together different cooking methods to complete a meal.
He also gives invaluable cooking tips and techniques. You will learn about helpful specialty tools such as the rice cooker and Otoshibuta (a wooden disc used in simmering), how to properly cook white rice (hakumai), and how to easily create the base of Japanese cuisine- Dashi (plus a recipe for Kombu Dashi for vegetarian dishes).
Measurements are listed in US Customary. The name of each dish is written in Japanese (Romanji) and English. Headnotes provide background information for each recipe along with tips and serving size. The over 150 beautifully-styled color photos are from Evan Sung. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a full page photo of the finished dish. Some of the more complicated recipes like Gyoza (Pork and Cabbage Dumplings), Shumai (Japanese Style Shrimp Dumplings), and Tamagoyaki (Japanese Omelet) also include step-by-step photos.
This book is a great pick for those with an interest in Japanese cuisine. The recipes are prepared with the home cook in mind and many are perfect for weeknight meals. The instructions are well-written and straight forward, particularly for techniques that may be new to the reader. There is a nice assortment of appetizers, soups, meats, seafood, vegetables, noodles, and rice, though you won’t find any desserts or beverages. Having a grocery store that features Japanese ingredients will be helpful to locate some items like napa cabbage, sake, gyoza wrappers, kombu, bonito flakes, usukuchi, mirin, tobanjan, umeboshi, shisho, miso, fresh seafood, wakame seaweed, shishito peppers, and pork belly.
Hambagu (Japanese-Style Hamburger with Tangy Sauce)
Hambagu (Hambāgu/ハンバーグ/Hambāgu Steak) is a part of the Yōshoku cuisine in Japan, Western-style dishes cooked with a Japanese twist. It is a delicious cross between the hamburger patty and individual-sized meatloaf. The meat mixture has a beef base (pork is also often added) with soaked panko breadcrumbs and eggs for binding. After forming into large patties, they are browned on each side, then simmered in a teriyaki sauce seasoned with ketchup and mustard. I served the Hambagu with steamed white rice.
One thing that takes this dish to the next level is the homemade teriyaki sauce (Tare no Teriyaki). It is so much better than store-bought and doesn’t take that much effort. The sauce can be made up to two weeks in advance and refrigerated until needed. I actually made a double batch so it was already on hand to make other dishes like the Supagetti no Teriyaki.
Mirin is a sweet Japanese cooking rice wine. I use hon-mirin (true mirin) in recipes calling for mirin and have been able to find it in Asian food markets and Whole Foods. Many grocery stores have aji-mirin, but be sure to check the ingredient list for additives. Other types of mirin are shio-mirin (includes salt) and shin-mirin (very little alcohol).
I also made Miso Shiru (Miso Soup with Tofu), Kinpira (Stir-Fried Parsnip and Carrot), Zaru Udon (Chilled Udon Noodles with Scallions and Ginger), and Supagetti no Teriyaki (Chicken Teriyaki Spaghetti).
Miso Shiru (Miso Soup with Tofu) is a classically simple and flavorful soup. The Dashi base is seasoned with shiro (white) miso, silken tofu, scallions, and wakame seaweed. It was easy to make and the perfect accompaniment to dinner or as a light lunch.
Kinpira is a light vegetable dish with thinly sliced parsnips, carrots, and celery. The vegetables are quickly stir-fried in a lightly sweetened soy sesame mixture until just tender. Claire especially loved this.
Zaru Udon is a light and delicious noodle dish. Chewy udon noodles are served cold topped with scallions, sesame seeds, and ginger. They are paired with a homemade dashi soy dipping sauce. Morimoto also provides step-by-step instructions on how to make your own homemade udon noodles.
Supagetti no Teriyaki was the biggest hit for the kids and Chad. It is also perfect for weeknight dinners. Spaghetti noodles and pieces of chicken are coated in a thickened teriyaki sauce and topped with basil. It is definitely a great way to use up any teriyaki sauce you may have.
Looking for more Japanese recipes?
Hambagu (Japanese-Style Hamburger with Tangy Sauce) Recipe
Excerpt from Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking
Hambagu (Japanese-Style Hamburger with Tangy Sauce)
Tare no Teriyaki (Teriyaki Sauce), Makes 1 1/2 cups, only need 1 cup:
- 1/2 cup Japanese soy sauce
- 1/2 cup mirin sweet rice wine
- 1/2 cup sake Japanese rice wine
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped yellow onion
- 5 thin round slices peeled ginger
- 2 medium garlic cloves smashed and peeled
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion very finely diced
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 pound ground beef preferably 80% lean
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- White pepper to taste
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil plus extra for your hands
- 1 cup teriyaki sauce
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
To make the teriyaki sauce:
- Combine the ingredients in a small pot, bring to a boil over high heat, and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for about
8 minutes so the aromatics have a chance to infuse their flavor into the liquid. Strain, discarding the solids.
- The sauce keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
To make the Hambagu:
- Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter, and let it melt. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and light brown at the edges, about 8 minutes. Let the onions cool. Meanwhile, combine the panko and milk in a medium bowl, stir to moisten the crumbs, and let it sit for 5 minutes or so.
- Add the onions, panko mixture, beef, salt, nutmeg, and white pepper to the bowl with the panko mixture and mix firmly with your hands until the ingredients are well distributed and the mixture is slightly sticky to the touch, about 1 minute. Add the egg and mix again, about 30 seconds more.
- Using lightly oiled hands, grab about a quarter of the meat mixture and firmly toss it back and forth between your hands for about 1 minute, or 30 seconds if you’re quick. (The goal—unlike that of most Western hamburger makers—is to get rid of most of the air hiding out in the patties.) Form 4 patties of more or less equal size (about 4 1⁄2 inches in diameter and 1⁄2 inch thick). Use your fingers to make a gently sloping dent in the center of each patty; this way, they won’t puff too much during cooking.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Add the patties, leaving a little space between each one, and cook until the undersides are deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, flip over the patties, and cook until the undersides are browned, about 3 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, stir together the teriyaki sauce, ketchup, and mustard in a small bowl and add the mixture to the skillet. Let the sauce come to a gentle simmer and cook, flipping the patties occasionally, until they are cooked to medium or medium well, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve right away.