It's All About the FoodChristmas Baking with SusieJ

Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat

That was the title of my birthday present from my husband.

We're still married.

This cannot be what I think it is, I thought. He's not a jerk. He's not stupid.

No-one's face could hide the you've-got-to-be-kidding-me thoughts on receiving that title as a present, and Jorj quickly explained that this book was recommended by a co-worker as the only book with recipes of the foods her native Japanese mother makes. He'd mentioned this book (without title) before, and I'd told him to track it down.

Japanese Women (and yes, author Naomi Moriyama admits the title is derived from French Women Don't Get Fat) beats you over the head with how fat Americans (and soon Europeans) are, how skinny and long-lived Japanese (especially women) are, and how it's all due to diet (not a lack of medical coverage for 30 percent of the American adult population) and lifestyle. Eating like the Japanese do at home (not at the sushi bar) will correct this.

She might have a point, but for this book to be a keeper, the recipes need to be very good and quick to prepare. Everything I tried was both good and quick. The recipe for teriyaki fish alone is almost worth the price of the book. Rather than pre-making a teriyaki sauce reduction, Moriyama quickly marinates the filets in soy and sake, sautes the filets, deglazes with soy and mirin, and finishes with quickly poaching the filets in the soy-mirin mix.

The recipes all rely on quick techniques using widely available ingredients -- if not in your grocery, check the sources list in the back of the book. I spent the most time cutting vegetables (hello food processor). The recipes I've tried -- teriyaki, soba noodles, "Tokyo" salad, beef over rice and vegetable stir fry -- are all winners and I've made them all more than once.

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