The 10 best Japanese cookbooks, whether you want to master sushi, ramen or noodles
The Japanese will tell you their food is very simple. Which I guess it is, in that they use relatively few ingredients compared to many countries. The complexity comes in the mastery of getting the most out of those ingredients and precision in cooking. Here are our recommendations for the best Japanese cookbooks to help you master the artistry and joy of Japanese cuisine.
This really is more of a bible than a mere cookbook when it comes to Japanese cooking. It is a very in-depth guide, covering everything from utensils, cooking equipment, the correct way to slice various fish, and even creating your own dashi. Not for the beginner. But if you want to really dig into Japanese cuisine then this is the book for you. We use this book regularly as a reference tool.
This book is perfect if you’re just getting into Japanese food and want some easy recipes to expand your repertoire. It is a much more modern take with recipes on everything from burgers to ramen. There’s a few more in-depth recipes for food geeks but it’s a very accessible book for everyone with some truly joyous recipes.
A Japanese cookbook that does exactly what it says on the cover. It’s designed for cooking Japanese food in a Western kitchen without the need for too many specialist ingredients and makes cooking Japanese cuisine easy for everyone to create. It’s not just great for beginners but also confident home cooks who just want some easy delicious recipes.
If you want to master sushi, and I mean really master sushi, there is no one on the planet better to learn from than Sukiyabashi Jiro. Owner of his 3 Michelin starred sushi restaurant and star of the film “Jiro dreams of sushi”, he is one of the world’s finest sushi chefs and possesses an incredible passion for detail and precision. This book is incredibly detailed and goes through every single step to creating phenomenal sushi at home. This book is completely worth buying even if only to get an insight into the mind of, arguably, the best sushi chef in the world!
Noodles are one of Katie’s favourite things in the world, in all their glorious forms. Takashi’s noodles combines Japanese techniques with shortcuts and French influence to bring incredible noodles into your home. Filled with dried and fresh noodle recipes, even with some for kids, this is a great book for beginners though not ideal if you’re looking for something more traditionally focused.
If you only have space for one Japanese Cookbook, this one covers almost all your bases. From delicate little kaiseki dishes, to sushi, to hearty ramen and noodles, this comprehensive book has it all. At almost 400 pages it’s a bit of a brute and not ideal for those looking for a quick Japanese themed dinner. But the extra time and effort will be well rewarded with stunning dishes and in-depth explanations of Japanese cuisine.
A list of the best Japanese cookbooks wouldn’t be complete without one about ramen. Ramen is amazing, really amazing. Not that dried packet stuff we all ate when we had no money but the intense broth with noodles and whatever you want in it. In true Japanese spirit, a life spent mastering this dish would be a life well spent. Written by a man who did the unthinkable, opened a ramen shop in Tokyo as a foreigner and then gained the respect of the local ramen elite. Making your own broth is a real labour of love but you can get loads out of this book even without doing that. Narrow focus, as the name suggests, but a great addition if you’re looking to master every facet of Japanese cuisine.
A more modern take on the food of Tokyo with new favourites from a more globalised Japan. A nice blend of simple recipes and more involved dishes this isn’t “traditional Japanese food” in the way most people think of it. But food culture is ever evolving and there are some really cool new interpretations in this that are fun to make. I like to use this one for faster or more simple Japanese dinners.
More of a Japanese/Korean/Western fusion book by one of the world’s most exciting chefs. The recipes are exciting and certainly very original. You do need to have a pretty good Asian supermarket nearby or order some things online to get the most out this book and it’s not ideal for beginners. There are some great ideas that can be utilised in other dishes, and wonderful photos and stories from a very exciting chef.
Our final pick in the best Japanese cookbooks is a slightly different style of Japanese cuisine. A more modern Japanese cookbook focusing on the slightly less healthy, but certainly no less delicious, street food of Japan’s capital. Probably not an everyday book but for comfort food, hangover food or because you-just-feel-like-it food, it’s great. Nothing too complex and big smiles are guaranteed no matter what you make from this book.
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The Plate Unknown is an educational food blog. Here we share information about world food culture, the origin of dishes from around the world, and tips for taking a food-focused trip.