Traditional recipes

5 Essential Japanese Dishes to Know

5 Essential Japanese Dishes to Know

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Japanese cuisine has become extremely popular here in the United States, as it is known for its refined, simple flavors, and ingredient-driven focus. Sure, it's easy enough these days to pop into the local sushi joint for a quick and delicious meal or pick up the phone and order some Japanese takeout, but why not save some money and try making Japanese cuisine at home? It's easier than one might think at first, and if you're equipped with the right pantry ingredients and a few simple recipes, Japanese cuisine can become accessible enough to incorporate into the weeknight meal routine.

So we spoke with Namiko Chen, author of the popular and critically acclaimed food blog Just One Cookbook, who offered a great deal of helpful insight into the essentials, including what dishes to try first, what ingredients to have on hand, what special techniques are needed, as well as some shortcuts. So without further ado, here's some great advice from Chen.

For someone who is new to Japanese cuisine, what five dishes would you suggest cooking?

Since this is for someone new to Japanese food, I picked five dishes that are popular and fairly easy to cook:

Teriyaki chicken is one of the most popular Japanese dishes in the U.S. Ready-made "teriyaki sauce" is usually available in nearby supermarkets. Interestingly, teriyaki is actually a cooking technique, not the name of the sauce: teri means "luster," in reference to the sweet soy sauce marinade and yaki means "grilling." The Japanese cook all kinds of meat, seafood, and vegetables with this cooking method. Since the taste is sweet and savory, these dishes are usually a hit with children as well.

Gyoza was derived from Chinese pot stickers, but the skin is thinner and they're usually smaller in size. Nowadays you can buy packages of frozen gyoza from supermarkets, but it’s actually more fun to make your own with family and friends. Also, it can be pretty versatile, as you can put your own leftover ingredients from the fridge or you can make it with just veggies (usually it has pork in it). For a snack or appetizer, you can use leftover gyoza skins to make cheese wraps as well.

The California roll is probably one of the most well-known sushi rolls served in Japanese restaurants around the world. The ingredients are easy to find since you just need crabmeat (real or artificial), Japanese mayonnaise, dried seaweed, and sushi rice. Sushi rolls (makimono) are fairly easy to make and they can be a great finger food, appetizer, or party food.

Donburi (rice bowl dish) is an economical, fulfilling, and quick and easy meal. It is my go-to menu item when I don’t have much time to prepare a full meal for my family. The most common donburi include gyudon (beef donburi), oyakodon (chicken and egg donburi), katsudon (deep-fried cutlet and egg donburi), unadon (grilled eel donburi), and more.

Lastly, when you serve a bowl of rice in Japan, you must accompany it with miso soup. Here in the U.S., Japanese restaurants serve miso soup at the beginning of the meal, but in Japan it’s usually served with the meal. Miso soup in the U.S. only contains green onion and a few pieces tofu or seaweed, but in Japan there are a variety of miso soups with different kinds of miso and ingredients (pork, clam, seafood, etc.).

Click here to see the Adzuki Bean-Miso Soup Recipe.

Japanese Potato Salad Is the Only Side You Need for Labor Day

Welcome to Chow with Me, where Chowhound’s executive editor Hana Asbrink shares all of the irresistible things she’s cooking, eating, reading, buying, and more. Today: The best Japanese potato salad for summer and beyond.

I know the start of summer heralds hot dogs, watermelon, and potato salad and Labor Day marks the end of their seasonal heyday but in my mind, potato salad is something to be enjoyed year-round. Maybe it’s because our house favorite potato salad is a Japanese potato salad whose perfect balance of creaminess, tartness, and yes, even a touch of sweetness, is so delicious, I often eat it on its own, without any meaty or grilled companions.

The best recipe for Japanese potato salad comes from Shirley Karasawa of the now-defunct blog, Lovely Lanvin (lucky for us, she’s still very active on Instagram). The fashion-loving Japanese-American home cook, who splits her time between Seattle and Tokyo, has incredible taste in all things, but especially in food. She’s one of my trusted resources for Japanese home cooking, and her potato salad recipe doesn’t disappoint.

“My recipe was inspired by my favorite yoshoku-ya (a Japanese restaurant that specializes in Western-influenced Japanese cuisine), Edoya in our Azabujuban neighborhood of Tokyo,” she tells me. “Unfortunately the owner/chef retired earlier [last] year. After years of eating his potato salad and lots of experimenting, I was able to recreate it a few years ago.”

Let’s all benefit from Shirley’s diligence. If you’re not familiar with Japanese-style potato salad, it is downright delightful. Unlike Western- or German-style potato salad (which I also love), the Japanese version looks closer to roughly mashed potatoes. It’s flavored with ample mayonnaise (try the tangier, slightly sweeter Japanese Kewpie mayo for stellar results), rice wine vinegar, and studded with refreshing cucumber and carrots. There’s also a bit of onion, which doesn’t add color, but certainly a welcome kick in this creamy, tangy potato salad.

“His Japanese potato salad was always perfect and had just the right texture with a secret ingredient that made it extra flavorful: karashi, or Japanese spicy mustard,” Shirley explains. “I think the hint of karashi and using really good potatoes (I like Yukon Gold) that you keep a little chunky, totally makes this dish.”

I have riffed on this recipe endlessly, taking liberties with hard-boiled eggs (often seen in both Japanese and Korean potato salads), corn, diced ham (which I think is more common in Korean versions), and diced apples (an addition my mother prefers). It is tasty out of the bowl, but even more delicious after spending a few quality hours in the fridge. I always make a double portion because it disappears at an alarming rate. As I mentioned earlier, it’s great on its own, but stupendous with fresh-off-the-grill chorizos, BBQ, or even in a sandwich with a thin slice of ham on soft bread (carb-on-carb action!).

Kewpie Mayonnaise, $5.99 from Target

While talking to Shirley, I became more curious about the origins of this Asian-style potato salad. Was there a German influence? After some deft searching on Japanese Google, she found a theory. “It seems the Japanese believe it was influenced from the Russian Olivier salad, which was first made by a Belgian chef in Russia. A chef in Japan first tried to make a similar version in Japan in 1896 and that’s where the Japanese potato salad came from, and eventually evolved over the years.” Interesting, indeed!

Japanese Potato Salad

Courtesy of Shirley Karasawa/Lovely Lanvin

4 to 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/3 cup Kewpie (Japanese) mayonnaise
1/2 cucumber (preferably Japanese or English) thinly sliced
1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
Extra sea salt for salting & blanching vegetables

Group A ingredients:
1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar (Japanese superfine sugar recommended, but regular sugar is fine)
1/3 teaspoon karashi, Japanese spicy mustard

1. Put the potatoes in a saucepan of cold, salted water so the water is just covering the top of the potatoes. Bring to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until a paring knife or wooden skewer poked into them goes in without resistance, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander.

2. While Potatoes are cooking prepare the other vegetables: Sprinkle both onion slices and cucumber slices lightly with sea salt, mix with your hands making sure the salt coats them evenly. Set aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes rinse off vegetables in a colander and wrap and gently squeeze vegetables in a clean dish cloth or a few paper towels to get all of the moisture out. This is a very important step and will prevent soggy potato salad.

3. Add carrot slices to a small saucepan of salted water, bring to a boil and blanch for two minutes. They should still have a slight crunch, do not overcook. Drain and set aside.

4. Place the cooked potatoes into a medium sized bowl and gently smash with a fork or potato masher making sure you leave some small chunks. In a small bowl mix together the Group A ingredients and pour over the smashed potatoes, gently tossing to evenly coat the potatoes. Add the onions, cucumber, carrots, and Kewpie Mayonnaise, and gently combine with the potato mixture until all of the ingredients are combined. Serve at room temperature or chilled in the refrigerator.

Related Video: These Easy Potato Pancakes Are Another Favorite Way to Eat Them

24 Essential Cooking & Baking Skills Your Teen Should Know

Whether a kid’s college bound, planning a gap year or diving straight into the workforce after they graduate, they all have one very important thing in common: Everybody’s gotta eat. Another thing they have in common? They’re not going to spontaneously know how to feed themselves sans Mom and Dad, drive-thru and DoorDash the moment they cross the threshold to their new place. That’s why it’s important to teach them to cook before they leave the nest.

Though I’m quite the cook now, when I went off to college, I could cook exactly one dish “from scratch.” It consisted of canned tuna, cream of mushroom soup, canned peas, milk and onions. Then, I became a vegetarian in the middle of Nowheresville, Texas, where people thought “vegetarian food” was fish, salad and side dishes (never mind that most of our side dishes have bacon). It was then that I had to learn to fend for myself. I quickly learned that not only was cooking a means to a (vegetarian) end, it was a really damn good option to avoid the freshmen 15 and, most important, one a poor college student could actually afford.

Guys, your kids have to learn to cook for themselves. They might complain now, but they’ll thank you later.

Whether you started your kids young or just began teaching your teen to get their gourmand on, make sure your bambino knows these fundamental cooking and baking skills before they graduate.

1. Grocery shopping

Goodness knows teens are more than capable of shopping (and spending), but when it comes to grocery shopping, they need to know how to budget and save, plan a (healthy!) menu and get home without too much (or too little) food.

2. Basic knife skills

It can be scary to let your kids handle knives, even (or maybe especially) if they’re teens, but learning to do so under supervision sure beats learning the hard way when your roomie isn’t home. They should learn basic cutting techniques and what each knife’s purpose is.

3. Safety & first aid

The USDA actually has training materials for all age groups. And don’t forget about knife and general kitchen safety and first aid for cuts and burns.

4. Using kitchen appliances

They don’t need to know how to use all of them, but think about what they will use. Instant Pots and slow cookers are a lifesaver for anyone who’s busy, including college students and kiddos in the workforce. And if your child is dorm-bound, don’t forget to teach them all the things you can cook if all you have is a microwave.

5. Measuring & weighing

Teach them how to properly measure out ingredients &mdash the sprinkle and scrape method for baking, the difference between liquid and dry measuring cups and how to weigh ingredients when it’s called for.

6. Reading & following directions

Your teen’s teachers will thank you for this one. It essentially involves reading the recipe carefully (twice!) and getting any questions you have answered before beginning.

7. Cutting & doubling recipes

Knowing how to cut a recipe when you’re cooking for only one or two is a handy skill to have once they strike out on their own, and doubling recipes will help them make big-batch meals that can be frozen for later.

8. Cooking mise en place

Mise en place is French for “set up.” Cooking mise en place essentially means you have everything set up and prepped before you start cooking. It’s best practice for every cook, but especially for teens who are still learning.

9. Popcorn & healthier snacks

If they know how to pop popcorn that’s not in a bag and season it with healthier flavors, they’ll be able to make healthier choices on that front. But they should also know how to make trail mix, granola &mdash even Chex mix &mdash for healthier-than-chips snacking options.

10. Making a salad

I know salads sound like a no-brainer, but knowing how to make a really great salad means they might actually do it. Some teens might also enjoy making homemade croutons.

11. Making soup

Soups are generally pretty simple and can make a healthy and filling meal. Try starting with a broth-based soup, a cream-based soup and a cheesy soup. If they can’t get enough ramen or pho, they can even learn this healthy hybrid.

12. Cooking casseroles & one-pot meals

Casseroles and one-pot meals are essentially dump or layer recipes, which couldn’t be easier. They really only need to learn three or four basic recipes to master any other recipe they could find. Try a classic casserole revamped to avoid high-sodium canned soups, a lasagna and a dump casserole or chili.

13. Cooking meats

Unless they’re vegan or vegetarian, they’ll likely want to cook up a carnivorous delight here and there. They should know how to cook up a pound of ground beef and how to make hamburgers, meatloaf and other budget eats. They should also know how to roast, grill (indoor or outdoor), braise and pan-fry so they aren’t limited to ground meat dishes and casseroles. And don’t forget about breakfast meats like sausage and bacon.

14. Cooking vegetables (& fruits!)

All vegetables are pretty much roasted the same basic way, making for a quick, easy and flavorful side with very little labor. But they should also know how to blanch, sauté and boil. They should know the difference between onions being translucent and browned and when a potato or other veggie is “fork tender.”

15. Other sides

They’re not likely to be satisfied with just roasted or steamed veggies every meal. They’ll also want the occasional mac and cheese or mashed potatoes or other home-cooked faves.

16. Cooking eggs

Rubbery, uninspiring eggs aren’t exactly going to motivate anyone to stay out of the McDonald’s drive-thru before class or work. They should know how to boil, poach, fry (sunny-side up, over easy) and scramble &mdash any preparation they’re likely to crave. They should also know how to make an omelet.

17. Cooking pasta & grains

If your teen is interested in making pasta from scratch, go for it! But we mean teaching them how to cook dry pasta, rice and other grains they like, such as quinoa.

18. Dressings & sauces

Dressings and sauces can be purchased, but not only will they be tastier and healthier (less packed with sodium, sugar and preservatives) homemade, they teach fundamental cooking skills like making an emulsion, making a roux and deglazing a pan.

For dressings, they should know how to make a vinaigrette, a creamy dressing and a Caesar dressing.

Sauce-wise, they should know how to make pan gravies for meats (and cream gravies if that’s how your teen rolls, of course) and Hollandaise sauce (to teach double-boiler skills). And don’t forget about pasta sauces. The five best pasta sauces to start with are the classics: a simple tomato sauce, a meat sauce, a pesto sauce, a garlic and olive oil sauce and a cream sauce &mdash with those basics, they can confidently make any other sauce they find a recipe for. For those of us in certain regions, a basic authentic enchilada sauce may also be a must, as it requires different skills than the other sauces (namely, roasting dried chilies).

19. Basic baking

If your teen has a sweet tooth, they should know how to make a handful of simple treats. What specific recipes they learn may be based on their preferences, but good places to start are cookies, brownies and simple frosted cakes. Pies and breads are more advanced, but teens who are likely to crave Mom’s pecan pie or Granny’s famous hot rolls when neither Mom nor Granny is around should learn those skills too.

20. Drinks

No, we’re not encouraging you to teach your kids to play bartender at your next party. We mean the basics, like tea, fresh-squeezed juices, coffee and punch.

21. Time-management

When cooking a meal, it’s vital that you know when to start various components so they all finish around the same time.

22. Storage & freezing

Proper storage of leftovers and knowing how to freeze large-batch meals like soups, chilies and lasagna is essential for anyone striking out on their own, especially if they don’t have roommates to cook for.

23. How to clean the kitchen

If they don’t learn how to clean, their kitchen will eventually get so gross they’re afraid to cook in it (and you’ll definitely be afraid to come within 100 feet of their apartment without a hazmat suit). Essential cleaning skills include cleaning as you go, disinfecting areas and dishes that came into contact with raw meat, what can and can’t go in the dishwasher and how to clean (without destroying) any appliances they’ll have with them when they move out.

24. Failure is a learning experience

By far the most important thing you can teach your teen &mdash about cooking or life in general, really &mdash is that failure is a learning experience. A lot of people get discouraged about cooking because they fail once and think they suck at it. And that’s because they probably do&hellip for now. And that’s OK. They should know that instead of fearing failure to the point of letting it stop them, they should research what they did wrong and try again. It’s all part of the learning process, and in the case of cooking, the fun part is that even your failures are (usually) pretty darn tasty.

5 Easy Korean Side Dishes

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix very well so that the gochugaru is evenly distributed. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Recipe adapted from Maangchi.

Banchan (side dishes) are an iconic part of Korean cuisine. They&rsquore served with just about every meal, and they&rsquore meant to be shared with everyone eating. They may seem insignificant at first glance compared to the rest of the meal, but they&rsquore packed with flavor.

Today I&rsquom sharing 5 of my favorite banchan that I&rsquove personally made. There are many more to choose from, but these are quite easy for the home cook to pull off.

1 - Spicy Cucumber Salad

I probably should have saved my favorite for last, but why not start off with a bang? This Spicy Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim, 오이무침) is the bomb! Crispy cucumbers, spicy pepper flakes, and nutty sesame oil&hellipit&rsquos a good combo.

Here&rsquos everything you&rsquoll need: an English cucumber, green onion, garlic, gochugaru, toasted sesame seeds, sugar, toasted sesame oil, and soy sauce.

You&rsquoll notice that many ingredients are repeated over and over in different side dish recipes. Garlic, green onions, sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil, and gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) are very common. My biggest tip for the best flavor is to make sure you buy toasted sesame oil. When I first started making Korean food I used regular sesame oil, and the flavor just wasn&rsquot there!

Also, English cucumbers aren&rsquot completely authentic, but locating an actual Korean cucumber can be difficult. English ones work well, or even regular in a pinch!

Slice up the cucumbers and green onions and mince the garlic. Put everything in a bowl.

Toss together thoroughly. Your hands work great for this job, but you could use a fork, spoon, tongs, or chopsticks instead.

A glove isn&rsquot necessary for hand mixing, but it prevents stains from the gochugaru.

2 - Cabbage Doenjang Soup

Up next we have a soup! This soup (Baechu Doenjang Guk, 배추된장국) isn&rsquot technically a side dish since diners typically get their own bowl of soup. But soup is commonly served with meals, so I wanted to include it! Any Koreans can correct me if I&rsquom wrong, but I&rsquove heard that broth soups are served in place of water.

You only need 2 &ldquospecialty&rdquo ingredients for this recipe: doenjang and gochujang. Doenjang is a salty fermented soybean paste (basically Korean miso), and gochujang is a fermented hot sauce of sorts. If you&rsquore going to be doing much Korean cooking, it&rsquos worth it to invest in these two ingredients. And they last forever in your fridge!

In addition you&rsquoll need broth, green onions, garlic, soy sauce, and Napa cabbage.

Now just bring the broth to a boil in a medium pot. Throw in the doenjang, gochujang, soy sauce, and cabbage. Boil for 10&ndash15 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender. Add the garlic and green onions and cook for another 5 minutes. And that&rsquos it!

This soup is slightly earthy from the doenjang and a bit spicy from the gochujang. You can always make it more spicy by upping the gochujang amount. I&rsquom a bit of a wimp (as are my kids), so I kept it to a minimum.

Make a pot of it and reheat it throughout the week to accompany your meals.

3 - Spicy Radish Salad

This Spicy Radish Salad (Mu Saeng Chae, 무생채) is probably my second favorite Korean side dish that I&rsquove made. I didn&rsquot think I would like it as much, but it kind of grows on you. Then you get addicted.

It would be ideal if you could find a Korean radish, but a daikon radish is a good substitute. You&rsquoll also need a green onion, garlic, salt, gochugaru, sugar, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, and fish sauce. If you don&rsquot have or can&rsquot stand fish sauce, you could always leave it out or substitute soy sauce.

First of all, shred your radish. I like using a food processor for this job.

Sprinkle a tablespoon of salt over the shredded radish and toss to coat. Set aside for 5 minutes.

When you come back to the radish, you&rsquoll notice that it has started to sweat. Squeeze it really well to extract most of the liquid. Discard.

Add the other ingredients to the bowl.

Mix well with your hands or a utensil.

Just before serving, sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top.

I wish I had a plate of this right now! Yes, I snack on it all by itself&hellip

4 - Egg Roll Omelette

Okay, this might tie for my second favorite side dish: Korean Egg Roll Omelette! There are different filling options for these rolled omelettes (Gyeran Mari, 계란말이), but this one is uncomplicated and scrumptious. My kids can&rsquot get enough of it!

You only need 3 simple ingredients: eggs, a green onion, a carrot, and salt.

Chop half of the carrot very small, and thinly slice the green onion. Beat the eggs with a pinch or two of salt.

Preheat a skillet over medium-low to low heat and grease well. Pour half of the beaten eggs into the pan.

Once the eggs start to set a bit, sprinkle the veggies over the top.

When the eggs are set enough to flip, roll the omelette over itself twice.

Slide the whole thing to one end of the pan and pour half of the remaining eggs on the other end.

Once the eggs are mostly set again, give the omelette another couple of rolls and repeat with the remaining eggs. Roll the whole thing up and remove to a plate or cutting board. Let it cool for 5 minutes before slicing and enjoying!

Here&rsquos a quick tip/hack: if you don&rsquot want to mess with adding the egg in steps, use a larger pan and pour all of the eggs in at once. Sprinkle on the veggies, wait for the eggs to be mostly set, then roll the whole thing up. Super easy!

5 - Spinach Side Dish

Lastly, we have a spinach side dish! This one (Sigeumchi Namul, 시금치나물) is a little more mild since it doesn&rsquot contain any gochugaru or gochujang, but it&rsquos still flavorful!

It has a bit of a zing from the garlic, and the toasted sesame oil is just lovely. Ideally you would use regular instead of baby spinach. I can&rsquot find any organic regular spinach, so I use baby instead. It&rsquos super convenient to get the pre-washed stuff!

Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute only. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve and run cold water over it.

Squeeze out as much of the excess water as you can.

Place in a bowl and separate the spinach leaves so they aren&rsquot all clumped together.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Just before serving, sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top.

Bonus ridiculously easy side dishes:

You can actually purchase a few pre-made side dishes that are readily available in most supermarkets.

These little toasted seaweed sheets have become very popular, and for good reason: they&rsquore yummy! They come in different flavors such as plain, sesame, and wasabi. Look for them in the Asian section.

Kimchi (fermented vegetables) is a must-have side dish. Homemade kimchi is definitely my favorite, but store-bought is also quite good! Since Korean food is trendy, more stores are carrying it. Check the produce section.

If you&rsquore feeling lazy (or tired), you can make one of the above recipes and purchase these two ingredients. And just like that you have 3 Korean side dishes!

You can store these side dishes in the refrigerator and eat them throughout the week. Serve with a bowl of steaming rice and chicken, beef, or pork and you have a complete meal!

I like to eat them with my morning eggs as well. They make my breakfast exciting!

Homemade English crumpets can easily be turned into a sweet or savory breakfast dish.

"English crumpets have been a real hit with the kids in the last few weeks," Emett said. "Once cooked and loaded with maple syrup, they are amazing."

Emett recommends using the recipe by Amano, an Italian restaurant in New Zealand, and has also included some of his own cooking tips in a saved story on his Instagram page.

While crumpets are commonly paired with jam or honey, Emett said his favorite way to eat them is with "crispy fried bacon and a couple of poached eggs."

"One thing they all require is a lot of butter," he added.

5 of 15

Puerto Rican Tostones (Fried Plantains)

"As a Puerto Rican, I know and love platanos," says Alexis Santos-Vimos. "They're an easy side dish and can take the place of other sides, like rice or potatoes. Just make sure you use the green plantains for this recipe. I don't bother with the water, just fry, smash, and re-fry."

Sandra adds a note about dipping the plantain slices in water: "The reason Puerto Ricans dip in water is because we cut them up early while making the rest of dinner. When the plantain sits in the kitchen, it will turn brown after a while,so we put them in water salt, so it so it won't oxidize. It is not necessary if you are frying soon after you cut them up.

The Best Cookbooks for Every Kitchen

I own a lot of cookbooks, and I treasure them all, from my dusty, leather-bound tomes written for 19th-century homemakers to my pocket-size Italian monograph on tripe cookery.* And, while they all feel essential to me, they're not all equally essential in a broader sense. I may own a copy of Apicius (and I may have once left fish guts to rot on a New York City rooftop for eight months in a harebrained attempt at making garum), but that doesn't mean everyone should.

*Well, I'm not sure how much I still treasure The I Love to Fart Cookbook, but cut me some slack: It was a hoot when I was a kid.

This, then, is a list of what I consider to be the most essential cookbooks—the ones every library should include. Mind you, that does not mean these are all my favorite cookbooks, though many of them are. Rather, these are the ones I turn to first when I have a question about a particular cuisine, technique, or recipe. They tend to be the most comprehensive, and they serve as a starting point before I dive into increasingly specialized works.

For example, I almost always look first to Marcella Hazan for questions about Italian cooking, whether they're about Bolognese sauce from Emilia-Romagna or the fried artichokes of the Roman Jews.

After that, I'll turn to single-subject sources to learn even more. I may end up learning more from those specialized sources, but Hazan dependably and authoritatively sets the stage. Her book is essential for anyone interested in Italian cooking the others are only for those of us who wish to go deeper.

In most cases, there's more than one book on a subject that's worthy of being celebrated as "essential," which makes assembling a list like this especially hard. Which of the multitudes of great books on French cooking should I single out? Julia Child's? Richard Olney's? Elizabeth David's? Jacques Pépin's?

Add to that the even greater difficulty in deciding which cuisines and topics to include in the first place. Sure, American, Italian, and French are on this list, as are single-subject guides to things like meat, fish, and grilling. But what else? Is it okay that I've included Chinese and Japanese cooking while skipping right over Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese? And how do I explain that I don't have a single book that covers food from anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa?

In many ways, that's because this list reflects the cuisines that have become the most popular and widespread in the US over the last several decades—not just what many of us eat when we go out but also what many of us cook for ourselves at home. That makes it inherently biased and incomplete.

Finally, note that this list does not include any baking, pastry, or sweets topics. That alone would double its length.

With that in mind, take this list as a starting point—not definitive, and not final. It will never be complete or comprehensive enough. Still, I'll stand by any of these books as deserving of a place on your shelf.

5 Ridiculously Easy Gourmet Dinner Recipes

Gourmet dinners don't have to be complicated -- in fact, sometimes simple is best!

Inspired by one of the most popular Cooking Light chicken recipes, this dish is full of flavor and and incredibly easy to prepare. The chicken is first seasoned with garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and smoked paprika and then broiled with a sweet and tangy honey glaze. GET THE RECIPE

In this easy and elegant dish, salmon fillets are dusted with a Southwestern spice rub, and then broiled and glazed with maple syrup. The spices create a delicious top crust and add a hint of heat and bitterness to balance out the sweetness of the syrup and pineapple salsa.

This is one of my go-to recipes when I have to hit the kitchen running. It takes just 20 minutes to make, I always have all of the ingredients on hand, the kids love it as much as I do, and there's barely any clean-up! I like to serve it over pasta or with a lightly toasted baguette for mopping up all of the garlic-butter sauce. It also makes a fabulous appetizer for a party -- just keep the tails on and serve with plenty of napkins. GET THE RECIPE

Flat iron steak is one of my favorite cuts of beef for home cooking. It's similar to flank or skirt steak, only much more tender -- in fact, after the tenderloin, it's the second most tender cut. Here, I've broiled it and topped it with a rich Asian-style brown sauce. With buttered rice and a steamed vegetable, it's an easy and elegant dinner that you can have on the table in under 30 minutes. GET THE RECIPE

Crab cakes are a high-priced menu item at many restaurants, but they're often loaded with filler. These Maryland-style crab cakes are made with lump crab meat and just enough filler to bind the cakes together -- and they're incredibly easy to make. GET THE RECIPE

This is an easy and incredibly flavorful way to prepare boneless skinless chicken breasts. I can't claim it's authentic, but the spices -- an aromatic blend of cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, paprika and coriander -- make it taste decidedly Moroccan, and it also goes wonderfully with couscous. The best part is that it only takes minutes to prepare, and there's barely any clean up. GET THE RECIPE

A specialty of Argentina, chimichurri is a tangy, zesty condiment traditionally served with grilled meats. Emerald in color and packed with loads of fresh herbs, olive oil, vinegar and garlic, it's like a cross between vinaigrette and pesto. This version -- made from a fragrant blend of parsley, mint and cilantro -- pairs beautifully with spice-rubbed beef tenderloin filets. It's a nice recipe for entertaining because it's impressive, yet easy to make you can have the entire dish on the table, start to finish, in about 30 minutes. GET THE RECIPE

What’s the Difference Between a Chef’s Knife and a Santoku Knife?

Besides the fact that one is western and one is eastern, the differences between a chef’s knife and a santoku knife are many. So how do you know which one is for you? Here we take a closer look.

What Is a Chef’s Knife?

AKA: Cook’s knife, French knife
Origin: Germany or France
Composition: A chef’s knife can be made of a number of materials including carbon steel and ceramic, but stainless steel is the most common.
Size: Eight inches (most used by home cooks) or 10 inches (popular with pros) are the most common lengths, but it can range from six to 14 inches.
Angle: 20 to 22 degrees.
Geometry: The tip is pointed and the cutting edge is curved.

What Is a Santoku Knife?

Translation: “Three virtues,” which refers to its ability to slice, dice, and mince.
Origin: Japan
Composition: Usually stainless steel, but can also be made of other materials, like ceramic or carbon steel.
Size: The blade is thin and light, typically between five and seven inches in length.
Angle: 12 to 15 degrees.
Geometry: The spine of the blade turns down at the tip (this is known as a sheep’s foot tip) and the cutting edge is straighter than a traditional western knife.
Special feature: Santoku knives often have a “Granton” edge — those are the dimples of scallops on the sides of the blade that keep things from sticking to the knife.

What’s the Difference Between a Chef’s Knife and a Santoku Knife?

As listed above, there are plenty of details that distinguish a chef’s knife and a santoku knife — size, angle, and geometry — but these two multi-purpose knives also have a lot in common (namely their versatility) and, for many, they are basically interchangeable.

The main difference — at least the one you’ll notice, according to Taylor Erkkinen — is the way it handles. “They hit the board differently when you use them,” explains the Brooklyn Kitchen co-owner. “With a chef’s knife you can get the back-and-forth rocking motion. The santoku is a more abrupt chop chop chop. I prefer the rolling of a chef’s knife, but many prefer the chop chop.

Kids Web Japan

Are you ready for a taste of Japan? COOKBOOK FOR KIDS has recipes for dishes that are popular with kids in Japan and are easy to prepare. If you want to know more about Japanese food, try reading our feature articles. Here are some basic recipes for Japanese dishes.

  • Okonomiyaki Boy
  • Sushi Balls
  • An Introduction to Japanese Food
  • Rice and Miso Soup
  • Favorite Dishes
  • Sushi
  • Okonomiyaki and Yakisoba
  • Soba and Udon
  • Wagashi (Japanese Sweets and Cakes)