Monday, 16 April 2007

Sake Steamed Clams - あさり の 酒蒸し

Steamed Clams

These asari no sakamushi were amazing, and all thanks to the recipe and cleaning instructions posted by Amy on Blue Lotus. Since I was only cooking for one, I just added the barest dab of butter. Even so, the leftover cooking liquid was still so rich and delicious I couldn't bear to throw it away, so I poured the leftovers over some rice and sprinkled with more negi. Mmmmm. It's like a Japanese moules mariniere without all the homesickness for the dirt cheap fresh mussels of Australian markets.

Unlike the travesty that is*, I've found some truly excellent recipes and meal ideas on food blogs lately. I find myself preferring them over my cookbooks for everyday cooking, probably because they're also written by real people with other jobs who don't have 3 hours to work on a weeknight dinner for one or two, who sometimes have to make ingredient substitutions and occasionally use packet stock. I like that readers can ask questions and get clarification about parts they didn't understand, or comment about their own attempts and variations they made. It also helps that the writer is free to be honest about the process 'this part was difficult', 'this is a pain in the ass and you could probably leave it out', 'I think I overcooked this, but next time I'd do X instead'. It's a sort of continual, communal process of refinement.

I've also been a little disappointed with the quality of the few Japanese cookbooks I own and their obvious lack of thorough proofreading or testing - ingredients listed and then never used in the cooking instructions, processes omitted, the same cooking time or temperature given differently in 3 places. I think it's time to do some research on better hardcopy references. If you have a recommendation, could you please leave a comment or send me an email? (よろしく おねがいします!). Otherwise, check back in a few weeks for the results.

*Where every second chocolate cake recipe requires 'one box of chocolate cake mix'.


K & S said...

can you read japanese? if so, I have one title that I use a lot--Orange Page's Orange Table #5 Obachan no Aji. It is good because they have pictures along with the directions. This is where I got the nikujaga recipe from. The Orange Page series seems to be good, you can find back copies at Junkudo. Good luck in your search for a good cookbook!

Cass said...

Thanks! My kanji still isn't great, but it might be good practice. I'll have a look next time I'm at the bookstore.

Anonymous said...

It's pricey, but I often use Elizabeth Andoh's 'Washoku'. I've had no problem with any of the recipes so far, though she advocates making dashi etc. from scratch, and due to time constraints I occasionally cheat and use instant. If you google her, you'll see that she also runs food shopping and cooking classes in Tokyo.

Another English standard (and much cheaper!) is Emi Kazuko's Japanese Food and Cooking. There seem to be different editions around, varying greatly in price. An Amazon search should yield results.

Lastly, re: Japanese language texts, I agree with the previous commenter on the Orange Page series. My old housemate had this book, and it was a great reference for me: 基本の和食 (大型本) ISBN-10: 4873030900. There's a Part 2 as well.


Cass said...

Thanks for the advice. It looks like I'll have to pick up one of the Orange Page books and sweet talk my tutor if it all gets too hard. I'd like to have a look at Washoku too, even if I am a big instant dashi cheat.