I saw the sour plums on the cover of Preserving the Japanese Way calling out to me from the highest bookshelf at teeny-tiny Moon Palace Bookstore, Minneapolis. As the Master Food Preserver for my county, I’m a sucker for beautiful books on food preservation. Angela, the owner, clapped and oohed as I plunked it down. “I love this book. I can’t cook, but this book makes me want to eat!”
I’m authorized by the State of Wisconsin to teach the safest scientifically proven methods of food preservation. In my teaching, I’ve heard lovely stories of immigrant grandmothers and their favorite recipes and the joy keeping these traditions alive brings to people. This connectivity to our shared and adopted cultures is one of the most compelling aspects to Preserving the Japanese Way. Nancy Singleton Hachisu is a wonderfully opinionated ex-pat who embraced rural Japanese culture with her marriage to a Hokkaido farmer nearly thirty years ago. Her notes and recommendations are informed by her American “keep trying” attitude, coupled with the Japanese concept of perfecting a singular thing.
Hachisu follows her insatiable curiosity in discovering the old ways. Her vignettes of meetings with artisanal makers are entertaining and informative. Her explanations and definitions of very specific Japanese ingredients are profoundly useful; for the first time ever I understood the nuances of soy sauces. She also acknowledges that artisanally made food is expensive. She recognizes that not everyone has the monetary luxury of purchasing small-batch regional soy sauces and offers accessible and easily available substitutes.
I’ve taught classes in making Tsukemono (Japanese-style quick pickles) and am familiar with both the techniques and concepts on why preservation food-science works. Hachisu doesn’t dwell on the science of Why, which might be off-putting to both food scientists and beginners. Beginning food preservers will want to take a basics class or contact their local Master Food Preserver to give you the rules for fermentation. That being said, if you have interest in Japanese cuisine and culture, not to mention food preservation, Preserving the Japanese Way is book that you will return to many times.
– Christina Ward
Perserving the Japanese Way: Traditions of Salting, Fermenting and Pickling for the Modern Kitchen
Preserving the Japanese Way: Traditions of Salting, Fermenting, and Pickling for the Modern Kitchen
by Nancy Singlton Hachisu
Andrews McMeel Publishing
2015, 400 pages, 8.2 x 9.9 x 1.5 inches