Japanese Cook Book
Japanese Cook Book
Written by
Aya Kagawa, D.M.
Published by
Japan Travel Bureau

Copyright 1963
Total 207 pages

Japanese food is enjoyed the world over for its characteristically subtle flavors and various preparation techniques that bring out the character of the base ingredients. Centered around rice, fish, vegetables, beans, and the sparing use of meat, Japanese cuisine has gained a reputation for being nutritious and healthy.

Enjoy these excerpts from “Japanese Cook Book.”

Book Image

The Why of Japanese Food

The beautiful land of Japan, with its four distinct seasons and its charming natural scenery, has given the Japanese people a unique personality that in turn has produced a distinct type of cooking and food. Its long history makes its foods and their preparation different from that of other nations. The discerning visitor will note that the food of the Japanese is influenced by their love of simplicity and delicate plainness.
The basic materials required in Japanese cooking are white rice, tender fish, beautiful vegetables of varied hues, miso-soup with its fragrance, and green tea. The real esthetic value of cooking in this country is to bring out the various special flavors of the above materials. For example, if you have some fresh fish, you may prepare it without changing its natural and peculiar flavor, as in suimono (clear soups), yakimono (broiled foods), nimono (boiled foods), mushimono (steamed foods), agemono (fried foods), as sashimi (sliced raw fish), or as namasu (raw fish mixed with vegetables and flavored with vinegar). Vegetables may be treated in the same fashion, as they are available all the year round, and they may be prepared as hitashimono (boiled greens), nimono (boiled foods), in miso-soup, tsukemono (pickles), and so on, in such a way as to preserve their original, special flavor. Sometimes they are used together with other foods for flavor or fragrance.

A horoku-yoki dinner

A horoku-yoki dinner (roasted fish and vegetable).

Soy beans are used very frequently in Japanese cooking especially in the hilly regions where fish is scarce, or in vegetarian menus (prescribed by some Buddhist sects). Beans are boiled and eaten in various ways. They are made into tofu (bean curds), aburaage (fried tofu), natto (steamed and fermented beans), shoyu, miso, bean-paste used in cakes, etc. Beef, pork, chicken, eggs (though relatively dearer than fish and vegetables) are often used to raise the nutritive value and improve the taste of Japanese food.
Of the various seasonings used, miso, shoyu, sugar and vinegar are the most important. Sake (Japanese wine), mirin (a kind of sweet sake) and dashi (soup stock) are also used to give flavor to many dishes. The best dashi is made by boiling shavings of katsuobushi (dried bonito) or pieces of kombu (a kind of kelp) in water, but monosodium glutamate and shoyu added to the water may be used as a substitute. Usually, the housewife does not use dashi. Instead she boils niboshi (small dried fish) with the food to give it flavor. Ground walnuts, sesame, peanuts, etc., are used to dress vegetables; these dressings are, I believe, peculiar to the Japanese. In addition to the above, mustard, red pepper, horse-radish, the leaves and berries of the shiso (a highly flavored leaf), the leaves and berries of the sansho (Japanese pepper), Japanese leeks, myoga (myoga ginger), all of which are found growing in most kitchen gardens, are frequently used as condiments.
Last of all, the arrangement of the food to be served and the choice of the various dishes used are an important part of Japanese cuisine. A table with a delicious meal served on it reminds one of the beauty of the scenery of Japan, with its many seasonal changes. The dishes have the hues and texture suggestive of the entree. Supplemented by the various accompanying foods, they all form for the eye a picture which stimulates the palate. Thus we enjoy two pleasures at the same time.


Sukiyaki, sometimes called the “friendship dish,” is well known and enjoyed by our foreign friends. It is the most popular form of nabemono, a saucepan food (ref. page 126). The attraction of this dish is that the partakers eat it piping hot, watch it cook, and enjoy the intimacy of sitting around the saucepan as they eat.


Sukiyaki, most familiar of all Japanese dishes, is sometimes called the “friendship dish,” because it is cooked and served in the presence of guests.

BEEF (lean and fat)...2.5—3.5 oz.

SHOYU...18 T.
SUGAR...12 T.
SAKE (or mirin, or sherry, or whisky)...6 tsp.

SPINACH...9 oz.
JAPANESE LEEKS (or onions)...9 oz.
HAKUSAI (Chinese lettuce)...9 oz.
TOFU...3 pieces (1 lb. 8 oz.)
SHIRATAKI (fine vermicelli-like threads of gelatinous starch)...2 bundles


  1. Place a thick shallow saucepan on the fire, and when it is hot put a piece of fat in it.
  2. Spread the slices of the beef over the bottom of the saucepan; turn them over when they are cooked.
  3. Add the kelp soup mixed with the sugar, shoyu, sake. Gather the beef in one corner and then add the green vegetables and tofu.
  4. When these are boiling, the sukiyaki is ready. Each person helps himself picking out what he wishes on a small dish. Sukiyaki may be eaten, dipped in raw egg beaten up. (It is nice to sip hot sake while eating sukiyaki.)


(Vinegared Boiled Rice Mixed with Flavored Vegetables, Fish, etc.)
This is a food made of rice flavored with vinegar, salt and sugar, and mixed with cooked or raw fish, shellfish, eggs, vegetables, etc.

A colorful dish of chirashi-zushi

A colorful dish of chirashi-zushi (vinegared boiled rice mixed with flavored vegetables, fish, etc.) served with a clear soup and sweet boiled beans.

POLISHED (white) RICE...5 C.
WATER...5 1/2 C.
VINEGAR...1/3 C.
SALT...1 T.
SUGAR...3 T.

SALT...1/8 tsp.
SUGAR...1 tsp.

SALT...2/3 tsp.
DASHI...2 T.
SALT...1/8 tsp.

FLATFISH FLESH (or other white-fleshed fish)...3 oz.
SALT...1/2 tsp.

FLATFISH FLESH (or other white-fleshed fish)...3 oz.
SALT...1/4 tsp.
SUGAR...1 1/5 T.
COLORING...1 drop

SALT...1/4 tsp.
SHRIMPS...2 oz.
SALT...1/2 tsp.
SUGAR...2 T.

SHIRASU-BOSHI (dried baby sardines)...2 oz.

CARROTS...4 oz.
SALT...1/2 tsp.
SUGAR...2 tsp.
DASHI...4 T.

SUGAR...1 1/2 T.
SALT...2/3 tsp.

SHOYU...2 T.
SUGAR...2 T.
SALT...1 tsp.

SHOYU...1 T. & 1 tsp.
SUGAR...1 T. & 1 tsp.


1) Boil the rice (ref. page 157) and stir in the mixture of vinegar, salt, sugar and shirasu-boshi (dried baby sardines) (see No. 7).

2) Beat the eggs; flavor with dashi, salt and sugar; fry in thin sheets in a frying-pan.

3) Wash the string beans, string them and sprinkle with salt; boil for 2 minutes. Take them out of the water and put them in the cold dashi flavored with a pinch of salt.

4) Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. salt over the flesh of the flatfish and let stand for 1 hour. Then sprinkle vinegar over the flesh and let stand again for 20 or 30 minutes. Then slice.

5) Boil the flesh of the fish in water, rub it in a suribachi (earthenware mortar) adding sugar and salt. Mix until fluffy in a frying-pan over a low fire, being careful not to burn. Add a little coloring.

6) Remove head, shell and insides of shrimps. Boil in the salted water. When cool, slice in halves lengthwise and soak in the vinegar flavored with salt and sugar.

7) After washing the shirasu-boshi (dried baby sardines) lightly in hot water, take them out and put them in the flavored vinegar (prepared for mixing in the boiled rice). Mix the vinegar and fish in the rice.

8) Cut the carrots very fine and boil them with the dashi. When soft add salt and sugar and cook until the dashi boils up briskly.

9) Peel the lotus root and slice it thin. Soak the sliced pieces for a little while in water and then take out. Boil them for 2 or 3 min. over a strong fire in dashi flavored with vinegar, salt and sugar until they are white and crisp. Arrange the slices on a plate and pour the cooled broth over them.

10) Wash the gourd strips in water, then rub in the salt. Wash off the salt and cook with shoyu and sugar until they are tender.

11) Soften mushrooms in water and remove the stems. Slice in strips and cook in the shoyu and sugar.

12) Parch the seasoned laver over a very low fire and crumble. Mix the vinegared rice (1) (already mixed with the shirasu-boshi (7)) with the vinegared fish (4), the carrots
(8), dried gourd shavings (10), and dried mushrooms (11). Serve on medium-sized plates, heaped high; arrange the eggs (2), the string beans (3), the fish soboro (5), the shrimps (6) and the lotus root cut like a 5 petaled flower in 5 sections.

NIMONO (Boiled Foods)

(Vinegared Boiled Rice Mixed with Flavored Vegetables, Fish, etc.)
This is a food made of rice flavored with vinegar, salt and sugar, and mixed with cooked or raw fish, shellfish, eggs, vegetables, etc.

A breakfast tray

A breakfast tray—boiled rice, miso-soup, boiled sweet potato, small, crisp fingerlings with grated Japanese radish and pickles.


JAPANESE PUMPKIN (kabocha) (or use potatoes, sweet potatoes, or beans of some kind)…1.5 lb.
SUGAR…1/2 C.
SALT…1 tsp.

Cut the pumpkin into biteable sizes without removing the skin. Boil with water and sugar; add salt and shoyu, and boil long enough to flavor the pumpkin.
Serve in a medium-sized bowl.