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‘Wagohan: The ABCs of Japanese Cuisine’: Reiko Yamada’s ode to Japanese comfort food

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Food is “the most basic form of diplomacy” for cooking adviser Reiko Yamada. With this philosophy in mind, “Wagohan: The ABCs of Japanese Cuisine” aims to bridge cultures and present the “versatility and beauty of Japanese cuisine.”

Wagohan: The ABCs of Japanese Cuisine, by Reiko Yamada.
160 pages
POT PUBLISHING, Nonfiction.

The slim volume of 101 essential items of Japanese food is a helpful introduction to everyday meals and customs. It contains only four pages of recipes, but includes guides to basic dishes and beverages with straightforward, instructive photographs. The Japanese and English text is unfussy with cultural anecdotes and details.

In addition to chapters on popular meals and seasonal dishes, the book features useful information on fundamental aspects of Japanese cooking such as staple dishes, drinks and cooking tools.

The section on ingredients is particularly informative as it breaks down the components of Japanese flavors with images and short explanations. Cooking novices and experts can appreciate the types of miso specific to regions, variations of soy sauce and descriptions of herbs such as shiso (perilla), mitsuba (Japanese parsley) and myōga (Japanese ginger). The recipes for dishes such as chicken teriyaki with orange marmalade, takikomi gohan (mixed rice) and Doraemon’s favorite snack, dorayaki (red bean pancake) are also easy to follow without the supervision of an experienced cook.

This book is perfect for anyone with an epicurean curiosity or love of classic Japanese comfort foods such as dashi-maki tamago (Japanese omelet) and oyakodon (chicken and egg bowl).