Even now, there are still a lot of mysteries about sushi despite its worldwide popularity, which is why books are highly recommended to understand this Japanese dish better.
What are the best sushi books out there? At the top of the list would be “The Complete Book of Sushi” by Hideo Dekura, Ryuichi Yoshii, and Brigid Treloar. Then we have “The Connoisseur’s Guide to Sushi” by Dave Lowry, “SUSHI (PIE International Books)”, “Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy” by Jiro Ono, and “The Sushi Bible: Delicious Sushi Recipes Made Quick and Easy” by Akaya Watanabe.
It’s worth pointing out that you should not be looking for a recipe book when making sushi since this could give you the wrong idea about how to approach the dish. This guide will help you there.
What to Look for in Sushi Books?
If you are going to look for a sushi book, don’t look for a cookbook. I am not saying that there are no useful sushi cookbooks or that cookbooks are bad, in general, but they are not that good of a fit with sushi. What you need, instead, are books that are going to teach you critical insights with regards to principles behind the preparation and appreciation of sushi.
To that end, we are presenting you with a list of books today that we have found to be the most suitable for learning about sushi in all the aspects that matter. We chose these reading materials by taking into consideration the criteria included in the table below:
|Quality of information||The details presented in the book must be credible, accurate, and useful.|
|Technical level||How easy or difficult the information presented is to comprehend.|
|Instructive images||If there are photos, tables, charts, indexes, or illustrations.|
|Unbiased presentation||If there is no overt bias towards one product, establishment, or individual.|
|Author Credibility||If the author or authors have the credibility to speak on such matters.|
You will notice that I didn’t include anything about the validity of the recipes discussed because that is not the point of these books. Sure, some of them do discuss ingredients and certain ways to make specific types of sushi, but they are not the main topics for this guide.
What we want to focus on is the broader perspective with regards to sushi and specifics regarding the reasoning for why certain things are done the way they are. The books that we have chosen to include in this list basically talk about such things as:
· The concepts and meanings behind sushi practices
· The idea behind sushi and its ingredients
· The purpose of each stage of the process
· The personal philosophies of sushi chefs
· How sushi is enjoyed and is intended to be enjoyed
Sushi can be seen in one of two ways. It is either this mysterious, mystical cooking practice hailing from wondrous Japan or it can be this luxury food item enjoyed by affluent members of society. Through the books that we will be talking about today, you can easily see that this is just not the case.
By and large, those who make the sushi see it as a way of life and a part of their national identity. It is one of the things that the Japanese take pride in and work very hard to preserve despite the onslaught of western, capitalist perceptions being forced on the dish.
This applies not only to the concept of the dish itself and the practices surrounding it but also with regards to the ingredients. What is authentic and what is not? Does it even matter or is there a deeper meaning to why the greatest sushi chefs chose to use the ingredients that they did?
Questions like those are answered by these books thoroughly and with a satisfying level of detail. For those who are interested, the personal thoughts and philosophies of the chefs working on sushi are also included in these books. Some of them go on deeper levels of detail than others, but the discussion is there, nonetheless.
Of course, there is also the topic of how sushi is perceived and enjoyed all over the world compared to what it was supposed to be when it first came about. For a dish that has been around for hundreds of years but has only gained prominence in the last century on a global scale, sushi is as fascinating as it is delicious.
Quality of Information – There are many so-called books in the market that hardly provide you with information that is worth your time. The books that are included here have been praised for the quality of the details that they contain, as well as in how even complex topics are presented.
You will have no trouble having your sushi questions answered by the books that will be listed here, from the most superficial to the most profound. You will also find some surprising items that you might not have been expecting, so you might want to get all five if you don’t want to miss out on anything.
Technical level – Believe it or not, a fair amount of technical skill goes into cooking and this even more so in making sushi. There are so many aspects to take into consideration and so many steps that you need to get right. This is why conveying the information through these books in a manner that would be easy to understand was so important.
This is another reason why these books have gained as much acclaim as they have. They are easy to read, understand, and the details can be applied without much effort. Ultimately, this is the goal of any good book and the titles on this list have done exactly that.
Images – Since we are talking about food here, we would naturally need to take images into consideration when choosing books. Now, it’s worth pointing out that this is not a deal-breaker when it comes to making my decision since the other criteria are more important. It simply helps when you have high-quality images to look at.
Not only can pictures and illustrations help with the understanding and appreciation of the sushi, but it will also provide more visual appeal. When you know what sushi can look like when made by a master, you would, of course, want to replicate that experience when you can.
Bias – It’s no secret that there are going to be superior products, superior establishments, and superior chefs compared to others of their kind. However, there is no need to show overt bias with regard to these things when it comes to books. This is why we love the titles that we are including on this list because you can feel the sincerity when it comes to the discussion of sushi.
The details only cover the merits of the dish, pure and simple. You learn about this food item and everything about it, without particular agendas being pushed your way. Isn’t that quite the refreshing change of pace compared to how things normally are in the age of spin?
Credibility – Finally, while anyone can make sushi if they tried, not everyone has the credibility to write books about it that you can then trust. Remember that this is a traditional food in Japan that is steeped in culture, traditions, and even spiritual connotations. You cannot just fabricate information about it and put it all in a book.
As such, we have chosen books by authors who actually know what they are talking about and who have opinions that are worth hearing out. With that being the case, we can now move on to actually discussing these books.
The Best Sushi Books You Need to Read
With all of that out of the way, it’s not time to talk about the best books that you can read about sushi that are available right now. Keep in mind that this list is only about the books that have been released, so far. There might be better ones released after this guide is published.
On that note, here are the titles that are worthy of your consideration:
· The Complete Book of Sushi
· The Connoisseur’s Guide to Sushi
· SUSHI (PIE International Books)
· JIRO – Jiro Gastronomy
· The Sushi Bible: Delicious Sushi Recipes Made Quick and Easy
This list is not ranked in any order, so it’s not as if one is better than the other. These books were chosen because they had merits on their own and when you purchase them together, you would have a more complete perspective on sushi.
The Complete Book of Sushi
Although it does contain a lot of recipes for sushi and plenty of instructions on how to make gorgeous pieces of the dish, The Complete Book of Sushi can be treated like a guide more than anything else. Here, you will find examples of how sushi should look like, given by people who actually know what they are talking about.
I highly recommend this book because it is so easy to use for beginners and provides insights into the world of sushi that is easy to understand and comprehend. Everything from the simplest of nigiri to the most complicated of maki is unpacked and explained in a concise and cohesive manner. The title is not an exaggeration when it claims to be complete.
This neat bundle of information even offers insights into both new and old recipes, which is something that the uninitiated might know nothing about. Getting this book is a great way to become more familiar with what sushi is actually supposed to be and what it is not. If you feel like there is something you don’t understand about the dish, this is the book to get.
The Connoisseur’s Guide to Sushi
Sushi is something that can be consumed as regular food or as a delicacy that needs to be savored. You can learn about the difference between both when you take a look at what The Connoisseur’s Guide to Sushi by Dave Lowry is all about. Now, it’s worth pointing out that this can be a controversial book due to the fact that it seems to promote snobbery.
Indeed, a lot of what you will find in this title are personal opinions of a food enthusiast who seems to really want the best versions of everything he is going to put in his mouth. This book not only talks about sushi but also the items and beverages that accompany it, making it fairly comprehensive.
If you are going to get this book, look at it as if it is a collection of someone’s thoughts on sushi rather than as a textbook instructing you about sushi. These pages can only give you Lowry’s perspective on what he believes is worth your attention when eating. You can feel free to ignore them or you can incorporate them into your own personal philosophies.
SUSHI (PIE International Books)
With appearance being such a huge part of sushi, taking a look at SUSHI by PIE International Books is certainly worth doing because of all the exquisite, high-quality photos of the dish included. These are carefully made, attentively arranged, and presented in the best manner possible.
If you believe that sushi is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the mouth and stomach, like so many sushi enthusiasts do, then you are going to be plenty satisfied with this book. The sushi is made by Kazuo Nagayama, a famous sushi chef who has made a name for himself in producing the fresh dish.
It would be no exaggeration to say that this seems more like an art book than it is a book about food. Then again, considering just how beautiful sushi can be, is there really much of a difference at this point? If you like looking at good food, this is the book for you.
Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy
Enjoying sushi can be quite the ordinary experience but with the help of Sushi: Jiro Gastronomy by renowned sushi chef Jiro Ono, it can become extraordinary. This is a guide that will basically teach you everything you need to know about sushi and how you can enjoy it to the fullest.
Unlike Lowry’s books, which can be considered quite elitist, this can be treated more like a textbook attempt at giving people information on a dish that has been largely misunderstood. While the book does focus a lot on dishes that are served at the Sukiyabashi Jiro, it mostly focuses on the dishes themselves.
You will learn how to eat sushi and its accompanying items from someone who actually makes them. You will also understand the various intricacies that come with consuming sushi in such a way as it is more comprehensible to ordinary people. There is not really that many of them, so don’t worry about having to memorize a bunch of etiquettes.
The Sushi Bible: Delicious Sushi Recipes Made Quick and Easy
Then we come to the actual recipe book on the list and I am including this simply because it is the easiest item of the bunch for beginners to understand. Even if you ignore the other four books on this list, this one by Akaya Watanabe offers quite a concise look into the world of sushi making.
Full of tips and guides about making sushi for both beginners and veterans, you really don’t need another recipe book if you are serious about making sushi. Although, this is a bit limited in terms of the deeper meanings behind the dish.
If you are not that interested in the cultural and culinary significance of sushi, and just want to a delicious plate of it that also happens to look good then you can just go with this one. It also makes for a great gift in case you know someone who loves making sushi.
Why You Need to Read Sushi Books
Now that you have a good grasp of the books that I recommend for reading, it’s time to understand the reasons why you would want to read these books, in the first place. To begin with, books are valuable sources of knowledge, understanding, perspective, and most importantly, appreciation for the subject of sushi.
If you truly want to understand the value of sushi, both in terms of the food industry, Japanese culture, and health, then you need to read the books that were listed here and many more like them. For other reasons, go ahead and take a look at the following:
· For expanding your mind
· For truly appreciating sushi
· For enhancing your sushi experience
· For learning how to make sushi
One of the biggest reasons for wanting to read sushi books is to expand your mind, which basically means not having such a narrow point of view with regards to the dish. A lot of people think of them as nothing more than sustenance, not understanding that there is so much more than that, which goes into making each and every piece.
The consumption of sushi also goes beyond mere materialism, though, it can certainly be treated as luxury goods. It represents a deeper understanding of the minds of the people who made it and the reasons for which it was made, in the first place.
Reading sushi books is also a good way for you to appreciate sushi better. That is to say, you can look at sushi in a framework beyond what you usually see in your local restaurants. Sushi can take on many forms and it can have many flavors. The ingredients used, the accompaniments that you get, and the way it is eaten, there are so many variables that you might not understand yet.
When you get one of all of the books listed here, you are much more likely to understand just what sushi can be instead of the commercialized item that it has become. If you are a food lover, this is something that you want.
Then, of course, comes your sushi experience. It really makes a world of difference when you actually understand the food that you are eating right down to its core. You will be able to notice the smallest details in terms of the appearance, the texture, and the taste. Doing so will allow you to find what you are looking for and confirm that you are indeed having an authentic sushi experience.
You will be able to get so much more satisfaction from the money that you spend, which is not something that everyone can say after eating sushi. After all, it is the kind of dish that you actually need to actively get to know. Once you understand it, you can appreciate it so much more than before.
Finally, there is the matter of you learning how to make actual sushi instead of the imitation that you might have thought of as sushi before. This is incredibly important since you might end up serving a sushi enthusiast a dish that you claim is sushi but is actually not. Can you just imagine the embarrassment of that kind of situation?
More than that, it is generally accepted that authentic sushi is better than the alternative. With this being the case, you can easily appreciate the reasons why you would want to read these books and internalize what they are trying to teach you.
Do You Need Recipes for Making Sushi?
If you have a reasonably sensitive palate and you have a basic understanding of cooking, then no, you do not necessarily need sushi. All you need is a list of ingredients and then you can proceed to mess around as you like. Of course, relying on recipes is not a bad thing, either.
Are Sushi Cookbooks Necessary?
For those who have absolutely no skills in cooking, then yes, cookbooks might just be needed. The ones that contain specific details on the steps necessary for making sushi would be best. If you already know how to cook, though, then a cookbook is not that important.
Are Sushi Cook Books Worth It?
Depending on what cookbook you get that instructs you on how you can make sushi, they could be worth your money or you might want to spend your money on sushi ingredients. Something that a lot of people don’t really understand about sushi is that it is not like your typical fish, in which specific measurements and portioning are important.
The best kinds of cookbooks that you can get are those that instruct you on the principles instead of simply giving you figures and measurements that would only trap you. A cookbook is supposed to teach you how to cook. It is not supposed to teach you how to follow a recipe.
If you are going to invest in a cookbook, it is best to remember this point because too many of them are only meant to promote this idea of being reliant on others. The book you should get should basically make you independent and should encourage you to be as creative as possible with regard to the kinds of dishes that you can make.
Obviously, if you already know how to cook, you can just make adjustments to the recipes provided by these cookbooks, but this is not always the case with those who want to try making sushi. Besides, if you already understand the principles, why would you need the cookbook in the first place?
Why You Don’t Need Sushi Recipes
The very best thing that you can do when you are making sushi is to not rely on recipes because it does not require them. Sure, you should know how much vinegar you should put in rice and what ingredients you can use for them, but you don’t need a recipe for that.
In the case of the sushi rice, you can basically just add the flavorings little by little until you arrive at the flavor that you want. This gives you the freedom to make the taste as mild or as intense as you want. The choice is ultimately yours.
As for the ingredients, you can literally use anything that you want. There is no limit with regards to the kinds of vegetables, fruits, fish, or cooked items that you get for the fillings or toppings. This is one of the best aspects of sushi that too many people don’t seem to understand.
The most compelling reason for why you don’t need recipes, however, is the fact that recipes can trap you into a narrow point of view with regards to what is sushi and what is not. If you are used to one or a few recipes that you have used before, it might be difficult to accept ingredients that you have not worked with yet.
Freeing yourself from such restrictions is one of the most enjoyable things about making sushi. Why would you want to handicap yourself like that when you can literally make this dish your canvas for creativity?