If you are typical, you sometimes eat Japanese food. Maybe sushi, maybe not. Suzi and I have a divided marriage: she is sushi, I am tonkatsu.

Making Japanese food at home? Ah, we rarely do that. You probably rarely do, too. There is just this “something” that seems to block us. Intimidation about the ingredients, no wok in our kitchen, and surely fear that what we cook can never be as beautiful as those artful restaurant presentations.

Adam Law, accomplished Australian chef and author and even attorney, gives us a path forward in The Zen Kitchen. The subtitle here is Easy Japanese Recipes for Home Cooks. These are easy recipes, but oh so beautiful to behold and oh so authentic.

A Japanese meal often begins with that great salad covered in Ginger Dressing. The fast recipe here features grated ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and olive oil. It’s sure to be a bright way to serve your opening salad, no matter the specific lettuce or veggies you include.

No wok in your kitchen? No problem. Adam has you stir-frying in a, surprise, frying pan. Here’s his Bacon and Spinach Stir-Fry:


There are playful ideas here. You are a little sushi-shy? How about dipping your toe in with a Sushi Sandwich:


And, if sandwiches are to be considered, then why not for dessert. Here are the Fruit Sandwiches with cream and fruit:

The chapters here follow the path you need for follow for Japanese cuisine:

  • Pickles, Stocks and Seasonings
  • Japanese Breakfasts
  • Rice and Noodles
  • Soup and Nabemono
  • Japanese Salads
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Mainly Vegetables
  • Semi-Sweets

Yes, the Fruit Sandwiches are classified as a semi-sweet. The traditional and the Adam-inspired recipes you will find in The Zen Kitchen include:

Brown Vinegar Pickles

Brown Butter, Salmon Flake and Shiitake toast

Salmon Sushi Balls

Potato and Shiitake Clear Soup

Chicken, Daikon and Cucumber Salad

Braised Tuna

Steamed Pork with Sesame Sauce

Soy-Flavored Eggs

Eggplant with Capsicum and Miso

Pumpkin Pudding

As you can see, these are “home” recipes. They have the authentic flavors you love but happily ones you can achieve at home. Where to begin? I’m a big fan of Japanese pickles, so distinct, and as you will see so very easy to prepare. And quick. Many of the recipe here can be knocked off in just a few minutes. So, if you have a Japanese craving, and no takeout nearby, this book and few ingredients will have you satisfied in a flash. Pickles and a beer is a nourishing meal.

This book has been packaged with great care. Superior paper lets the brilliant photos almost pop off the page. The fonts and white space have been selected for maximum readability. You pick up The Zen Kitchen  and discover it is so easy to read and understand. Perfect cookbooks are rare. This is one.