Book of the week

JUNK FOOD JA­PAN: AD­DIC­TIVE FOOD FROM KUROBUTA SCOTT HALLSWORTH BLOOMS­BURY, $53

The Dominion Post - Your Weekend (Dominion Post) - - Books -

Re­viewed by Janan Jay

Hav­ing pre­vi­ously spent al­most three years liv­ing in Tokyo, when Hallsworth’s first Kurobuta pop-up came to my na­tive Lon­don it quickly be­came my favourite post­pay­day haunt – its in­stantly recog­nis­able, au­then­tic Ja­panese com­fort food has a bold, brazen twist.

Here the Aus­tralian chef, for­merly of Nobu, con­tin­ues to show­case his en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge of the cui­sine and pen­chant for bend­ing the rules. A clas­sic curry calls for ribs in­stead of poul­try; the hum­ble chicken katsu is ex­trav­a­gantly topped with an umamiover­loaded French but­ter; raw tuna meets truf­fle oil and tor­tilla in his fa­mous sashimi pizza.

Every­thing about this book is pas­sion­ate, play­ful and in­tense, with an in-depth four-page in­tro­duc­tion; im­per­fect print punk aes­thetic; and vi­brant pho­tog­ra­phy from award­win­ning David Lof­tus for ev­ery dish. Laugh-out-loud anec­dotes and ed­u­ca­tional facts head­line each recipe (of­ten ac­com­pa­nied with a lib­eral sprin­kling of the f-word).

How­ever, this is a book that de­mands com­mit­ment. Many of the recipes – while de­li­cious – are quite time­con­sum­ing and, from my own per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of at­tempt­ing sushi and dashi stock from no­to­ri­ously volatile bonito flakes in my tiny Shibuya apart­ment, re­quire a cer­tain de­gree of skill.

Be pre­pared to make a lot of condi­ments (there’s a whole chap­ter at the back) and re­mem­ber that get­ting hold of ex­otic in­gre­di­ents, while easy if you live in Ja­pan, Lon­don, or Mel­bourne, might prove trick­ier in New Zealand. There’s a sup­plier list pro­vided but, be­ing UK fo­cused, it’s pretty re­dun­dant. A list of es­sen­tial sta­ples (mirin, cook­ing sake, kombu) for novices might have proved far more use­ful.

It’s also pretty pricey at around fifty bucks but, for ad­ven­tur­ous Ja­panese fu­sion afi­ciona­dos, it’s to­tally worth it.

QUIZ AN­SWERS

York; move­ment. rights gay The 5. Jerusalem; 4. New 3. Dead; Grate­ful The 2. Rider; Easy 1.

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