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National Diet Library Newsletter

No. 199, April 2015

Small exhibition in the Kansai-kan (17) "Tomorrow's dinner will be a full-course meal: Find the recipe you want to cook"

From January 22 to March 17, 2015, the Kansai-kan of the National Diet Library (NDL) held a small exhibition entitled "Tomorrow's dinner will be a full-course meal: Find the recipe you want to cook." The exhibition introduced approximately 570 recipe books for various kinds of dishes such as a family's culinary repertoire, traditional and local dishes, world's cuisines, sweets, healthy dishes, and easy cooking. It included valuable materials published in the Meiji period and recipe books for Asian dishes from the holdings of the Asian Resources Room of the Kansai-kan.

This article shows two recipe books from the Meiji and Taisho period, and a dish based on a re-created recipe in the Edo period. Please enjoy the world of recipe books through reading, cooking and eating!

Shokupan no seiho oyobi eiseigashi no koshiraekata (How to make breads and western sweets) published by Hino Saburo in 1906 [NDL Call no.: Toku 26-785]

<<Shokupan no seiho oyobi eiseigashi no koshiraekata>>

This is a compilation of words of the shop owner of the bakery Kimuraya which is famous for "anpan," a Japanese sweet roll filled with beans It introduces in his colloquial style how to bake bread, make sandwiches with eggs or jam, and make "eisei-kashi" (western sweets, e.g. biscuits, western-kuzumochi (a pudding made from boiled milk and "kuzuko," a starch powder produced from the root of the kuzu plant) and ice cream). The recipe for bread seems to require much time and effort for an ordinary family, as it starts with making yeast from hops.

Shiroto ni dekiru shina ryori (Chinese recipe book for non-professional people) published by Fujin no tomo sha in 1926 [NDL Call no.: 547-112]

<<Shiroto ni dekiru shina ryori>>

Recipe books for Chinese dishes started to be published later than those for western dishes, which were actively published from the beginning of the Meiji period. It was in the 1920s when Chinese dishes, which put more value on taste than appearance, became rapidly popular, due to price escalation at the time. This book introduces familiar dishes today like "gyoza" (dumpling) and "chahan" (fried rice).

Kanpon ooedo ryoricho (Recipe book in Edo period) published by Shinchosha Publishing in 2006 [NDL Call no.: EF27-H683]

One of the exhibition staff members tried to make "tofu-men" (tofu noodles), which is said to be a dish in the Edo period, based on the following recipe in this book.

How to make Tofu-men

somen (thin white noodles), momen dofu (firm tofu), komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach), sesame oil, soy sauce

Spread sesame oil on a heated Chinese wok. Add well-drained momen dofu torn into small pieces, and minced komatsuna. Season with soy sauce. Finally, add boiled somen and cook over a high heat.


<<Tofu-men with chili and sesame>>

How about the taste? "Well, the flavor of sesame oil sharpens my appetite and the delicate hot flavor of komatsuna adds a fresh accent. This is seasoned only with soy sauce, so it might be a good idea to add ginger or shichimi (Japanese spice mixture containing coarsely ground red pepper and six other ingredients) if you prefer." The picture on the right shows the addition of very hot red pepper and spicy black sesame.

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