I think anyone who is an anime fan will agree that the food shots are spectacular, regardless of the series you’re watching. I learned a long time ago that I cannot watch Food Wars on an empty stomach, and that whatever I have in my kitchen is woefully inadequate compared to the meals I see portrayed in my favorite shows. Well, now there is a cookbook that will help you make those mouthwatering meals (and hopefully they will come out as photogenically as they’re animated) – Cook Anime.
Cook Anime by Diana Ault contains more than 75 recipes featured in various anime. Recipes are grouped in four different categories (Main Dishes, Sides & Bento, Street Food, Drinks & Desserts), ranging from the more complex (I don’t think I will ever have the patience for tempura, even if I did like shrimp) to the simple (my sister couldn’t help but laugh when she saw that one of the recipes was green tea – “It’s tea,” she said, “how hard is that to make?”). Most of the recipes are accompanied by a “facts” section, whether it be cultural information or something about the anime in which it appears.
The index is organized by food as well as by anime, so when I originally sat down to choose recipes, I went through the index and checked all the recipes associated with my favorite shows. However, I don’t have a lot of kitchen equipment or counter space, so I ended up choosing some relatively simple ones – chahan (fried rice), aspara bacon (bacon-wrapped asparagus), and checkerboard cookies (also known as icebox cookies).
I really, really wanted to make katsudon (pork cutlet rice bowl), but I honestly didn’t think I’d have the time to make it.
There is a “main” anime at the top of each recipe, and if there is an “Anime Facts” section, it will usually be about that one. But there will also be a section listing other anime that particular food might appear in, which now has me wanting to rewatch some shows to try and spot it. It doesn’t list every anime, though! (Seriously, Food Wars could be basically on every page.)
First, for anyone who, like me, does not cook all that much, I must emphasize that it is extremely important to read over not only the list of necessary ingredients but also the recipe itself to make sure you have everything you need. Otherwise, you might, like me, be midway through cooking and realize there are absolutely no toothpicks near you.
That said, as with any recipe, some things can be modified or eliminated if necessary. For example, making the checkerboard cookies required sifting both the flour and the powdered sugar, but I do not have a sifter. I do, however, have a whisk, and Google assured me that was acceptable. The chahan recipe included seaweed-flavored chips, and I just used regular potato chips. (I thought the chips were just a garnish and therefore optional, so I didn’t get any.)
At the beginning of Cook Anime, there is a list of Japanese food items that may be required in a recipe. Depending on where you live, you may not be able to find everything in a grocery store near you, but hopefully, you can find them online. (My usual grocery store has a small Japanese section, and even then it took me an embarrassing amount of time to find mirin – and then I didn’t make that recipe anyway. But now I have it, for next time!)
I chose relatively simple recipes, but the instructions were easy to follow regardless. Making aspara bacon is basically just “wrap the bacon around the asparagus and fry it” with a few extra steps, and I am already familiar with making chahan (although this particular recipe used ingredients that I don’t normally include in mine). The most complicated and time-consuming recipe that I made was for the checkerboard cookies, and that was primarily because I had to keep chilling the dough.
Cook Anime is well worth the $19.99 price tag, especially for anime fans who might not already know how to make some of these Japanese staples. There are a lot of recipes in here that I want to try out, and the little bits of cultural information and random anime facts are really interesting. I can definitely see this having a permanent place in my kitchen.
Cook Anime by Diane Ault is published by Tiller Press and is currently available wherever books are sold.
*I was provided with a free copy of Cook Anime by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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