Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking
Iron Chef and restaurateur Masaharu Morimoto
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., Jan. 25, 2008
Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cookingby Masaharu Morimoto
DK Publishing, 272 pp., $40
From a first glimpse of Morimoto-san on the old Japanese Iron Chef series, I knew he was the emperor of Japanese fusion cuisine: He's a classically trained traditional chef with total disregard for tradition, borrowing heavily from Japanese, Chinese, and Mediterranean components paired with French technique. His recipes are playful takes on established dishes and methods, incorporating 21st century artisanal ingredients. His training in sushi and kaiseki cuisine (a perfectly balanced meal composed of many small artistic plates) has polished his creative plating technique to a fine edge. These and many more talents of the amazing Morimoto are displayed for all to learn in his new cookbook.
He sets the stage admirably, describing traditions, definitions, and common misconceptions, while techniques such as slicing, curing, pickling, and many more are gorgeously photographed step-by-step. There are detailed descriptions of ingredients such as nori, dashi, and the like, but some of these pages are printed over a blinding horizontal pattern of earth tones (the book's designer should be whipped). The numerous photographs are of the highest food-porn quality, and all 125 of the recipes are well-written, easy to follow, and logical in progression.
When you examine some of the dishes, you begin to get a real feel for Morimoto's playful brilliance: raw tuna "pizza" on a flour tortilla; tempura with a Gorgonzola sauce; chips and guacamole, but with chips made from pounded-out snapper; seafood and white miso baked in orange shell; grilled onions stuffed with pancetta-wrapped scallop. This is food that will wow your friends, and it's easy to produce with Morimoto's guidance.