Japanese Farm Food: A Cookbook Review

Photo: Kimi Harris .

My sister-in-law recently got married. My husband and his siblings are half American-Japanese, and there are so many things from that heritage that are beautiful and worthy to hold onto in our families. Food is one of them.

So when I was shopping for a wedding present for her and her now husband, I wanted that gift to reflect both her heritage and her interests. We landed on this beautiful cookbook, Japanese Farm Food, by Nancy Singleton Hachisu as part of her gift. What attracted me to it was the “farm food” wording as simple food is right up my alley. Far too often our ethnic food cookbooks are far from simple, as they attempt to help people cook restaurant versions of that culture's food. The question I love to see answered is, what do regular meals in a culture look like? I feel that this lovely cookbook helps do that.

These are the type of recipes you can make on a regular basis without a lot of trouble, and without a huge food budget. Examples of recipes that have caught my eye include Simmered Chicken and Miso Meatballs, Curry Rice, Soba with Walnut Dipping Sauce, Young Ginger Pickled in Plum Vinegar, and Smashed Cucumber Pickles with Garlic.

And even beyond the recipes, Nancy’s commentary throughout the book detailing some of her life on an organic Japanese farm, homeschooling, and as a leader of the slow food movement in Japan, is delightfully honest and eye-opening.

This is a cookbook that I am really looking forward to cooking from, and I can whole-heartedly recommend to others.