Yoko Arimoto, arguably Japan's most popular expert on home cooking, is famous not only for her simple, healthy recipes, but for her stylish food presentation as well. The author of over 100 best-selling cookbooks in Japanese, Arimoto travels extensively and has homes in London, the Umbria region of Italy, and in both Tokyo and Nagano, Japan. From her experiences entertaining and cooking for all kinds of people, she has gained an understanding of differences in tastes and perspectives, enabling her to add an international flair to her native cuisine.
In Simply Japanese, Arimoto presents about 60 recipes divided into several sections: seafood, meat, vegetables, tofu, deep-fried foods, rice and miso soup. The recipes are designed for the home cook -- not professional chefs -- and most don't require special ingredients or multiple steps. Rather, they are for creating casual dishes typically eaten in a contemporary Japanese home. Arimoto uses basic ingredients such as soy sauce, sake and nori, all readily available in the U.S.; and emphasizes fresh vegetables and local fish and meats. To liven things up, and to challenge the more adventurous cook, she does include some dishes with more exotic ingredients such as tarako pollock roe and yuzu citrus, found at Asian grocery stores.
Methods range from simple procedures like learning to make teriyaki salmon and cornmeal shrimp tempura, to the 20-step process of making tofu from scratch. Each finished dish is shown in a beautiful photo, styled by the author using her own, everyday tableware. The key points of each method are also illustrated in detail with color photos, along with the author's helpful comments and quick tips. Arimoto provides a full explanation of the Japanese culinary style, from how many dishes are served and the kinds of plates used in the home, to the philosophy of healthy eating. Additional sections cover such topics as essential seasonings, home kitchen equipment and cooking techniques, directions for making dashi stock, and other supplemental information.