Friday, October 03, 2014

ishoku dogen

At the end of August, I was approached by Jo of Tuttle Publishing to review a book on traditional Japanese objects.

Feeling that this topic wasn't too relevant with our blog, I asked if I could review a book that was focused on food or travel in Japan.

She checked and I was able to request "Japanese Foods That Heal" by John and Jan Belleme.

With all that has been happening in the past couple of years, my interest in foods that help fight cancer and other diseases have definitely increased.

One of the things the authors talk about is "Ishoku Dogen", a Japanese saying which literally translates to "Food is Medicine".

This book is written in detail but still very simply so that anyone who is new to Japanese cuisine will be able to understand it.

Even though I am of Japanese ancestry, it was interesting to learn more about how certain Japanese foods/ingredients are made.

There are 18 chapters, one for each of the healing foods/ingredients that they promote.

I especially liked how they had a "Shopping for" section, which gave details as to what to look for on the labels when you buy these foods/ingredients.

In each chapter, the authors share several recipes using the healing foods/ingredients they promote.

It was also interesting to see most ingredients used in "Western" style dishes.

One recipe that I tried was their "Glazed Acorn Squash".

Not having seen acorn squash in the markets, I used kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) instead.

The authors say "A perfect side dish for a holiday meal, this golden colored treat can be enjoyed any day of the week."

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it too:

Glazed Acorn Squash : serves 4
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

1 small acorn squash, quartered, seeded, peeled and cut crosswise into 3/8-inch (1 cm) wide slices
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
4 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
1/2 cinnamon stick
3 or 4 whole cloves
Pinch of sea salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and gently simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until squash is tender. With a sloted spoon, immediately transfer squash to a warmed serving dish and keep warm in a 170F (75C) oven.

2. Strain the cooking liquid and return it to the saucepan. Boil down the liquid rapidly to half its volume--you should have about 3 tablespoons. Check frequently to avoid burning.

3. Pour glaze over squash and serve.

NOTES: I was a little scared that it would taste very clove-y and cinnamon-y, but the results were nice. Not overpowering, just a light spice taste. My cooking time was less than 25 minutes and this was so easy, I'd definitely make this again.

This was my first book review and I am grateful for being given this opportunity...Thank you!

Disclaimer: A review copy of "Japanese Foods That Heal" was provided to me by the publisher in return for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review and the thoughts and opinions written here are my own.


jalna said...

Very, very cool!

Rowena said...

I wouldn't mind seeing more book reviews by you -- this was a nice a surprise and a change of pace for your blog ^-^

K said...

Looks like a very informative book!

KirkK said...

Interesting Kat.

K and S said...

it was Jalna :)

Thanks Rowena :)

it is K!

Thanks Kirk :)

Take care everyone!

Deb in Hawaii said...

Great review Kat! The book sounds interesting and I like the sound of that squash recipe especially with the mirin combined with the cinnamon and clove. Yum!

I hope you do more reviews too! ;-)

K and S said...

I appreciate your help Deb :)

Take care.