Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers

Chiba, Machiko

Published by Kodansha USA
ISBN 10: 1568365640 / ISBN 13: 9781568365640
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Synopsis: A new book that explains how to pair wine with modern Japanese food.

Much has been written about the pairing of food and wine but almost nothing that focuses on Japanese food. It could be because Japanese food is not commonly associated with wine but actually many of its flavors may be perfectly paired with red and white, dry and even sweet wines. Reflecting the increasing popularity of Japanese food in the West and the new interest in wine as an accompaniment to food in Japan, Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers seeks to explain some simple ways to enjoy this non-traditional combination.

Pairing wine goes beyond matching red wine with meat and white wine with chicken. The right match depends on personal tastes and adherence to some general guidelines intended to enhance the aromas of both the wine and the food and to prevent a clashing of flavors. In Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers, leading wine expert John Whelehan explains the elements of typical Japanese flavorings-soy sauce, ginger, saké, mirin, and sesame-as well as some of the more delicate flavors like raw fish and exotic mushrooms, and describes the best wine selections for each. He also gives descriptive recommendations for the best wines to savor with the 58 contemporary Japanese dishes created and presented in this book by best-selling cookbook author Machiko Chiba.

The dishes in this book are simple to make and represent the new wave of cookery in Japan today. Amond the 58 mouthwatering recipes are White Fish Simmered in Spicy Miso, Thin-Sliced Octopus with Citron-Flavored Sesame, Tuna Tataki with Wasabi, Beef with White Sesame and Sweet Saké, Grated Mountain Yam and Carrot, Daikon Radish Gyoza Dumplings, and Tiny Dried Fish and Pine Kernel Onigiri Rice Balls.

Beautifully illustrated and packed with innovative recipes, Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers fills a much needed place in our understanding of how to enjoy wine with today's dynamic Japanese inspired menus.

From the Publisher: [Interview with Authors]

Q: Who first taught you how to cook? When did you become interested in cooking professionally?

A. Ms.Chiba: My mother taught me how to cook. I learned many things by helping her in the kitchen and dining with her. Two years after I got married I decided to pursue my love for cooking by entering into cooking competitions. With the first try, I was awarded a Grand Prize with prize money and a trip to the United States. After that, I tried other competitions, won more prizes, and was asked to host my own TV cooking show in Japan. I've been a cooking artist ever since.

Q: How did you end up at your current position of Marketing Manager at Pieroth Japan? When did you first become interested in Japanese food and wine?

A. Mr. Whelehan: I was born into a wine family in Ireland where names such as Antinori (Italy) Mondavi (Napa), Torres (Spain) and many chateaux owners from Bordeaux were often guests.

While studying marketing in college, I decided to follow my wine heritage to the Napa Valley. I had an apprenticeship at an area winery and then began studying wine making and viticulture at Napa Valley College while working at Sequoia Grove where I was eventually appointed Cellar Master.

I met my Japanese wife in California and she introduced me to sushi and a variety of homemade dishes. We all tend to start with what the trade calls FSF (fruity, soft, "friendly") wines, and in turn, our tastes evolve in a very personal way. It was the same for me with Japanese food, starting with easy things like edamame and sushi, and eventually appreciating more exotic items

We later moved to Tokyo where my job as a wine buyer and marketing manager involved lecturing and training in wine. In addition to completing the Wine and Spirits diploma, I had the honor of elevation as a Chevalier du Tastevin at the Clos Vougeot. I make at least two annual trips to vineyards around the world.

Q: Have your annual trips to America influenced your cooking style? How so?

A. Ms. Chiba: Definitely. I have seen the importance and the difficulty of eating healthy. My family has always been very health-minded—as children we ate 'kombu' seaweed as a snack, and we continue to eat as many different types of fish and vegetables as possible in our daily diet avoiding using excess fats when cooking. People's diets have changed so much in recent years, in both Japan and in the United States. They eat much too much red meat and take in a great deal of sugar every day. Personally I know people who have gotten diabetes, dealt with obesity, and have experienced strokes. Now that I live half my time in the States, I want to expand my own personal cooking style to offer readers even more easy-to-follow, nutrient-dense and energy-boosting recipes.

Q: Most of the dishes in JAPANESE DISHES FOR WINE LOVERS are what westerners would call "appetizers" or "small plates." What made you decide to feature these dishes?

A. Ms. Chiba: Ever since I began cooking, my house became a 'salon,' where friends and business associates came and enjoyed dining. We all seemed to have the same thing in common: our desire to eat delicious and healthy food, and dishes that could be paired with cocktails and fine wines. From then on, I began to create a repertoire of recipes that are easy-to-prepare and healthy. Small dishes such as those featured in JAPANESE DISHES FOR WINE LOVERS are quite appropriate for party settings. I selected as many different vegetables as possible, and flavor the meat and fish dishes with natural ingredients. For an example, 'yuzu' was something that I used in some of the dishes—it is a citrus fruit with a fragrance somewhat close to an orange. I use its peel to create an appetizing flavor and to bring out its beautiful aroma. Olive oil is the only oil used in my recipes with a little amount at a time for health reasons. 'Delicious' is the key to all of my recipes.

Q: What are some "rules of thumb" that cooks should keep in mind when choosing a wine to pair with a particular Japanese or Japanese-inspired dish?

A. Mr. Whelehan: First examine the main ingredients: vegetables, white fish, red-meat fish (fattier), white meat (poultry, pork), red meat, etc.—then you can decide which type of wine would be the best to accompany the dish. Secondly, you must check the seasonings so you can decide whether your initial choice stays the same or if you have to move towards a white or a red. By regulating ingredients such as saké, mirin, rice vinegar or soy sauce you can create a more harmonious match. In some cases, you can even change the match if you switch the sauce. For example, if you eat Shabu Shabu with a sauce based on citrus and soy sauce, it will go well with a white. Switch to a sweet sesame sauce and it goes well with red wine that has residual sugar. Mirin and sugar are common. If these ingredients are used to the extent that it leaves a slightly sweet flavor, more than likely it goes well with a wine with residual sugar, while if soy sauce is a key element it will lean towards red.

Q: When did the Japanese first start to drink wine? What about pairing food with wine? When did they make their own wine? What was it like then? What about now?

A. Mr. Whelehan: There are records towards the end of the 15th century of Japanese drinking wine, but it wasn't until 1874 that the first wine was made domestically. They weren't very successful though. There was no room for wine to penetrate into the typical Japanese diet at that time which was mainly vegetarian due to the influence of Zen monks.

Matching food with wine prevails in Japan now through the influence of restaurants and a dramatic change of diet due to a combination of prosperity and globalization, highlighted by the fact that the average height of the Japanese as a race has increased by approximately 12cm since the early 1900's, the net result of switching to a high protein diet that also includes meat.

The first commercial winery in Japan was built in Yamanashi at the beginning of the 1900's and it's in existence today as a museum where one can still purchase their most famous product Akadama Port. In the 1960's Japan tried to make cheaper wines to compete with affordable imported wines, which was achieved by using low priced ingredients from overseas.

Despite a myriad of problems such as a climate with high humidity, inappropriate grapes and the necessity of wineries in the past to deal with a large number of smallholdings, today grapes are grown in 46 of Japan's 47 prefectures. Wines close to an international standard are starting to appear with much prominence.

Q: Give us your idea of the perfect wine tasting/food pairing menu from Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers.

A. Mr. Whelehan: Appetizers with Brut Rose Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Pressed Sushi, p.106 Harumaki, p.36

Fish with Pinot Noir Tuna Tataki with Wasabi, p.100

Fish with Pinot Noir (main Course) Pan-Fried Salmon with Lemon, Soy Sauce, and Thyme, p.72

Dessert with Dessert Wine Kabocha Salad, p.28

Q: Who do you feel is the audience for this cookbook?

A. Ms. Chiba: This cookbook is for anyone who loves to eat and drink wine. It's the perfect recipe collection for people who entertain in their home, especially those who have an international group of friends, colleagues, and business associates over on a consistent basis. I believe this book will bring much joy to cooks who are interested in exploring Japan's culinary culture.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers
Publisher: Kodansha USA
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: New

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