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Sushi for Dummies - Cookbook Review

Easy-to-Read, Light-Hearted Guide for Sushi Novices

by Judi Strada and Mineko Takane Moreno

(For Dummies, 2004)

Sushi for Dummies is a fun and lighthearted guide for sushi novices

 

 

If you've ever looked closely at any volume in the "For Dummies" series, you have probably been surprised to find it well-written and authoritative — if you could get over the off-putting title, that is. In fact, when "DOS For Dummies" by Dan Gookin was first published in 1991, bookstores purportedly didn't want to offer it, saying the title was insulting to their customers. Little did they know how popular the series would become.


Sushi for Dummies, too, is an easy-to-read, light-hearted but extremely useful and thorough title for people who want to learn how to make sushi at home, perhaps for a party, and for folks who've so far had no experience with raw fish. You can raise your cultured eyebrows all you want, but authors Judi Strada and Mineko Takane Moreno are no dummies. They put forth a well-researched, careful effort that pretty much covers all you need to know. Nothing fancy, no frills, but much useful information. So go ahead already, drop your preconceptions!

You will learn what kitchen tools are needed for your sushi adventure (rice cooker, rice paddle, lint-free towels, bamboo rolling mat, good knives, etc.) and what ingredients to stock in your pantry. Nori (sheets of dried seaweed), ponzu, rice vinegar, sansho (Japanese pepper), soy sauce, sesame oil, wasabi, pickled ginger, quail eggs and Japanese cucumber make up the latter list.

You'll also learn how to keep things safe and clean, sushi types and techniques, how to make perfect sticky rice, how to cut and slice and more. In Part III of the five-part book, the authors cover topics like "Creating Sushi Bar Favorites at Home," "Fast Recipes" and "Extreme Sushi," while Part IV delves into "Sushi Sidekicks," "A Smashing [...] Sushi Party," and "Demystifying the Sushi Bar Experience. The final part of the book offers "Ten Tips for Creating First-Rate Sushi at Home" and "Ten Tips for Minding Your Sushi Manners:" Don't be one of those people who obsessively rub the chopsticks together a soon as they're unwrapped!

The recipes are well balanced. You'll learn to create familiar items like caterpillar rolls, barbecued or grilled unagi (freshwater eel), spicy tuna hand rolls, shrimp tempura and California rolls. You'll also make fun offshoots, like Guacamole Battleship Sushi; Grilled Shrimp and Thai Basil Inside-Out Rolls with Spicy Lime Dipping Sauce; and Gorgonzola Cheese and Spicy Sprouts Battleship Sushi. Or try your hand at Japanese Chicken Soup, Hard-Boiled Quail Eggs with Matcha Salt, Asian Pear Salad or Cucumber and Wakame Salad. For dessert there's Crystallized Ginger Crème Brûlée and Sake Brownie Soufflés.

Beware that Sushi for Dummies lacks in the esthetics department; but that's a given and understood in this user-friendly series. It's to be treated like a tool, a reference guide and manual: no glamour, just lots of good, solid information. Even if you don't consider yourself in the target audience (that is, people daunted and mystified by the subject and looking for a quick remedy), for a sushi lover, there's still lots to enjoy.

 

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