Japanese Cooking - A Simple Art By Shizuo Tsuji Close to 20 years after this book was published, it is still arguably the best English-language volume on Japanese cuisine. As the title states, Japanese cooking is an art - it's not just heating food and dumping it on a plate. Just as important as the way a dish tastes are how the food is sliced, the subtlety of preparation, how it's presented and the other dishes it's served with. That's a lot of ground to cover in 518 pages but Tsuji makes a valiant attempt. Japanese cuisine might seem easy because the presentation is so austere - the ignorant would describe tempura simply as ingredients dipped in batter and deep fried. But the techniques behind tempura - the way a prawn is carefully scored so it doesn't curl up in the hot oil; the preparation of the seafood and vegetables; the mixing of the batter and the temperature of the oil - all take years to master. There are reasons why even more home-style food - soups, stews and braises - should be prepared a specific way and in the first part of the book, Tsuji explains the logic behind the techniques. Part two of the book gives recipes, divided into cooking methods, rather than main ingredients, which makes sense if you're attempting to get a deep understanding of how to cook instead of simply learning individual dishes. So the chapter on deep-frying gives recipes on tempura as well as fried pork cutlets (tonkatsu) and the one on soups gives recipes for the basic stocks as well as ways to use them.