Sunday, September 09, 2007

Morimoto's Cookbook

One perk of owning a blog is the offers I get from publishers for preview copies of books. But I've never considered actually taking any of them up on it.

Until now.

None other than one of my food heroes, Masaharu Morimoto,has a cookbook out. And I couldn't wait to get my greedy little hands on some food porn and bits of cooking wisdom from the Emperor of the Iron Chefs.

Morimoto is a paradox of sorts; an ardent traditionalist who defies tradition. A celebrity chef who's more chef than celebrity. You can sense his reluctance at his fame -- this is a guy who rather be known for his food than just for the sake of notoriety.

And despite the fact that he now wears a ponytail and fashionable horn-rimmed glasses since his permanent move to the States (he has his own place in Philly and NYC), he's still the same intense warrior I came to revere from the original Iron Chef.

He's an honorable samurai in a land full of self-promoting hucksters -- one of which, by the name of Bobby Flay, he had a run-in early on.

Who can forget Morimoto's outrage and anger when he saw Flay, his opponent, standing on a cutting board after that cross-continental episode of Iron Chef.

For a second, it looked like Bobby Flay was going to be Bobby-Splayed-Open-With-a-deba-bocho (that's the kind of knife Morimoto uses to gut fish).

This no-nonsense tone plays into the book. Here are a few points on a page entitled "How to Eat Sushi":

Don't dunk your sushi rice-first into soy sauce.

Don't mix wasabi into your soy sauce.

But he can be playful too.

A prime example is what he does to that popular chocolate-covered Japanese kid snack, Pocky. His rendition substitutes asparagus for the cookie sticks.

The rest of the cookbook is full of gorgeous pictures, knife-sharp prose and a slew of recipes that range from the mundane (Grilled Pork Chops), the classic (Braised Black Cod), and the "what-the-f***?" (Chocolate Coated Sweetfish Liver).

Some of the more whimsical dishes he invented Johnny-on-the-spot on the battle floor. Others come from his restaurant kitchen.

But methinks a bit of wordplay was the inspiration for an iceberg salad called "Frozen Lettuce".

If you're going to use this book to cook with (not a coffee-table book as I will), it's full of useful tips. For "Pork Kakuni", he writes:

The longer you make this ahead, the better. If you're serving it on the weekend, begin preparations on Thursday.

But make no bones about it, Morimoto's recipes are involved, utilizing hard-to-find ingredients like Japanese soy lecithin (obrato) and sudachi, a citrus fruit virtually unheard of outside Japan. This isn't How to Boil Water. It is not, however, as intimidating as Thomas Keller's French Laundry Cookbook.

Thomas Keller. Now there's a worthy competitor I'd like to see pitted against Morimoto on Iron Chef America.

NOTE: If you decide to buy it, you don't have to do so from the Amazon link I provided above.

But if you did, you will be supporting the blog a little. And for that, I thank you in advance.


At 12:50 PM, Blogger Christine D. said...

ErRrr, the words "Bobby Flay" just makes my blood boil! haha.

I love Morimoto! From all the pictures I've seen, his book looks beautiful. Congrats on obtaining a preview copy!

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Chubbypanda said...

Dude! Send them my way too the next time you get some of those offers. C'mon, buddy! Where's da hookup?

At 7:15 PM, Blogger KirkK said...

Hey Elmo - Looks like a great cookbook! Too bad I didn't take them up on the offer as well.

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Wandering Chopsticks said...

Yeah, I want free cookbooks!

I totally remember that episode. Bobby Flay's arrogance. Oooh, he made a mortal enemy out of me.

At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elmo, you are one lucky SOB. But deservedly so. I had omakase at Morimoto's in Philly a few years ago, and to this day it remains the best restaurant meal of my life.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Krizia said...

wow, new type of post! I used to have a crush on Morimoto [really!].

geebers EM, you certainly continue to grow as an exceptional overall writer/critic!

At 1:29 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

First, let me say:

I love your blog. I just moved here (Tustin/Irvine) from the Right Coast, and have been looking for recommendations on restaurants. So THANK YOU. ^_^

Secondly, thanks for the review of the Morimoto book; I may have to grab it so I can try some of the dishes now.

Third, would you mind if I linked your blog from mine?


Richard "Pocky" Kim

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Professor Salt said...

Funny. I got the hookup too! I'm gonna do a compare/contrast review with another book.

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Nguyen Duong said...

great post. enjoyed reading it. i'm gonna buy the book now. the photos inspire me.

At 4:43 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Okay. So it's not just me who thinks so. Bobby Flay is indeed a d***!


You're askin' for it now! I bet if there are publishing assistants reading this, you are already listed. Some of the ones I get offered got me asking, "Why in the world would I be interested in reading this?"


I was debating whether I should, but they got me at "Morimoto".


I think Flay is fueled by delusions of his own grandeur. Funny how he tried to redeem himself on the rematch by putting the cutting board away and THEN standing on the food prep table. Good one Flay.


Au contraire! You are the lucky one. You got to eat the man's food!


Thanks! It's nice to mix it up a little. But next, I'm back eating!


Thanks for dropping by! Of course, you can link me. Expect a link from me as well.


Can't wait what book you compare it with. I'm guessing it's not "How to Boil Water"! Or maybe it should be!


It's a great read and a real conversation starter too.

At 10:13 PM, Blogger Rasa Malaysia said...

I was thinking to buy this book too when I saw it at B&N over the past weekend, but I flipped through the book and decided not to buy yet. The dishes seem familiar...somewhat to the Nobu cookbook I have. But I am sure I will buy it eventually. Hah, I remember that episode with Morimoto and really wasn't pretty. :P

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Shinae said...

Hiya elmo,

That chocolate covered sweetfish liver is intriguing...

Thanks for sharing!


At 2:00 PM, Blogger Diamond Dog said...

I can't stand celebrity chefs! They have such huge egos and think they are so important and do so much. I long for the days when chefs were never considered celebrities.

Now ask me what my "dream job: would be......A celebrity chef.

At 2:34 PM, Blogger Juliet said...

Bobby Flay is an ass!

What a lovely perk for you!
I think I'd like to get a copy of that book, but I won't be cooking from it any time soon. I'm a pretty good cook, and I try to make good meals every night, but I am also a mother of two.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger Faye said...

oh man! this looks like something i NEED on my bookshelf.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you! ^_^

I'm looking forward to more entries - I need to find more great restaurants and such out here.

(I am going to gain so much weight... >.>)

At 10:12 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Rasa Malaysia,

I also noticed similarities between Nobu Matsuhisa and Morimoto in terms of style. I guess that's understandable since Morimoto used to work for Nobu.


Intriguing, yes. But terrifying, absolutely!

Diamond Dog,

My dream job would be to be served by celebrity chefs!


HAHAHA! Man, I guess it's a commonly accepted and unanimous: Bobby Flay is an ass! But yes, I don't cook as much as I used to either. But not for the same reasons as you, of course. Just laziness. But I do love pretty pichurs!


I'd a bought it too, if they didn't just give it to me. Actually I wouldn't have had any idea that it was out until some blogger wrote about it!


More are coming! Also check out OC Weekly's Food Review page. Gustavo's Hole-in-the-Wall Life is a great resource for good/cheap eats. And the new guy they got doing the feature reviews ain't bad either! HAHAHA! *WINK!*

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

funny you should mention that... I was just popping by to tell you that I (fortunately for my tummy and unfortunately for my wallet) live about two minutes from "disneyland for foodies," this lovely review I happened to read last night. ;) can't wait to go and thank you!!

At 1:24 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Thanks! Whole Foods will fill your stomach and lighten your wallet...hey that sounds familiar!


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