Emiko Davies is quite a force! The author and photographer of six books, including Cinnamon and Salt, Tortellini at Midnight and Florentine, she has, up till now, focussed on the food of Italy, where she’s been living since 2005 and now brings up her family. All her books are beautiful (she is as gifted a photographer as she is a storyteller), evocative and delicious, but I have been especially looking forward to Gohan, which draws not on Davies’s adopted culture but the culture she comes from. Or partly so, for she has a rich hinterland: born in Australia to a Japanese mother and Australian father, the family lived in China for her teens, before Davies went to America to study and thence to Italy. Gohan — which means rice in Japanese — is a return to the cooking of her childhood. It’s about her mother, her grandparents, the comforts of home cooking, and the food that formed her and and sustains her still. It’s an exquisite but refreshingly down to earth guide to everyday Japanese and Yoshoku (think East meets West) cooking, with recipes that inspire and invite. Let me just mention of a few of them to give you an idea of what’s within: Chilled Dressed Tofu; Clear Soup with Clams; Spring Onions in Miso-Vinegar Dressing; Cabbage Salad with Daikon Citrus Dressing; Pumpkin Braised in Milk; Golden Taro and Potatoes in Soy Butter; New Year’s Soba Noodles; spectacular Fried Chicken; Curry Croquettes; Japanese Milk Bread; Strawberry Mochi; and Matcha Tiramisu.
Given the book’s title, however, it seems only right that the recipe I am happily sharing with you today is the Shiitake and Chicken Rice!
GOHAN: Everyday Japanese Cooking by Emiko Davies (Smith Street Books, £26).
Photography: Yuki Sugiura.