A selection of irresistible, mouth-watering recipes

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A selection of irresistible, mouth-watering recipes

The Gaijin Cookbook: Japanese Recipes from a Chef, Father, Eater, and Lifelong Outsider by Ivan Orkin and Chris Ying, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Rux Martin, US $30.00, Pp 256, September 2019 ISBN 1328954350
Binging with Babish: 100 Recipes Recreated from… by Andrew Rea, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, US $30.00, Pp 328, October 2019, ISBN 978-1328589897

Japanese cuisine is considered fine dining across the world. It is not just the diners who consider it chic to go to Japanese restaurants, even the chefs including the American chefs are overawed with the Japanese chefs. It is not just the fancy sushi and kaiseki chefs. In The Gaijin Cookbook, Ivan Orkin and Chris Ying say that the American chefs are equally enamored of the street-level vendors and ramen shop owners, who have a proficiency in their work that seems far out of sync with the small amount of money they’re charging. Much of their skill derives from the notion of shokunin — a word that translates roughly as “craftsmanship” but really implies mastery and a singular dedication to doing one thing really well. Ivan Orkin says that Japanese food often gets treated with over-the-top reverence in English-language books. It does a lot of disservice to Japanese cuisine. Japanese food is not all precious, high-flying stuff. He writes, “A Japanese life encompasses the same range of situation as an American one. There are busy weeknights and weekends when you feel ambitious, picky kids, special occasions, dreary winters, sweltering summers, picnics, potlucks parties, and hangovers. And there is food for every occasion.” Like most professional chefs, Ivan Orkin considers Japanese food to be the pinnacle of cuisine. It’s what we want to eat all the time. We make pilgrimages to Japan to witnesses traditional Japanese cuisine and simultaneously marvel at the way Japanese cooks absorb ad incorporate foreign influences. The Japanese own sushi, ramen, soba, udon, tempura, yakitori, kaiseki, kappo, and iakaya, but they also bake amazing pastries and produce some of the world’s French and Italian dining. The Japanese culture is commonly thought of as guarded, bordering on impenetrable. This is because Japan officially closed itself off from the rest of the world for centuries in history, but Ivan Orkin says that such reputation is misguided and overstated. He writes, “The reason I was able to make a name for myself as a ramen chef is that Japanese cuisine can actually be incredibly receptive to foreign inspiration. There is a whole genre of Japanese “Western food” yoshoku) that is born directly from outside influence.” Ivan Orkin’s delicious recipes range from “Sushi Rice to “Kimchi Pork Belly (Buta Kimchi) to “Pork and Root Vegetable Stew with shirataki Noodles” to “Rice Balls.” To say that the recipes are delicious, scrumptious and mouth-watering is understating these fantastic recipes. It is nothing short of brilliant. Finally, we have a book that makes Japanese cuisine accessible.

*****

Andrew Rea wears several hats – he is a chef, filmmaker, and a YouTuber – millions of foodies and chefs watch his YouTube show “Binging with Babish.” But the truth is that he never wanted to become a YouTuber. He was torn between food and film. “Binging with Babish” shows that. It took him fifteen years to put film and food together. Babish was an ancillary from eight total episodes of the NBC classic “The West Wing,” Oliver Babish, he used as a joke. With time, it has become his brand professional identity. Andrew Rea is a gifted storyteller. Andrew Rea says that his YouTube show “Binging with Babish” is more than just a cooking show. It’s been “the means to express myself creatively.” Jon Favreau writes about him, “I was taken in by how meticulously he created recipes from movies and how he, like I, appreciated the impact food could have in the right story.” The delicious and scrumptious recipes range from “Timpano” to “The moist maker Sandwich” to “Freddy’s Ribs” to “Palestinian Chicken” to “Beef Wellington.” In addition to being delicious and scrumptious, the recipes are accessible. There are detailed tips so that a new cook can also make them with ease. Andrew Rea is a genius in the kitchen. He takes his incredible culinary smarts and gives you finger-licking dishes to delight your taste buds, and those of your family and guests.

 

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