In researching and writing KIBŌ, my goal was to enable a global readership to make Tohoku fare in their own kitchens, regardless of each reader's level of culinary skill or previous experience preparing Japanese food. To help me, I recruited dozens of volunteers (for a complete list, see page 125 of KIBŌ).  My "culinary advisory council" was an enthusiastic group: geographically diverse (mostly living outside Japan, both northern and southern hemisphere), demographically diverse (all ages, both genders, many nationalities), and occupationally diverse (business, student & academia, law, medicine, culinary industry, farming & fishing etc.). I asked them to test recipes and provide me with feedback. I wanted to know: could they make unfamiliar dishes following my written directions? Did they find the food appealing? Could they find unusual ingredients? If not, what substitutes did they suggest?

This Cohorts & Collaborators page gives me an opportunity to highlight the valuable contributions made by my volunteers. Below, I share with you the work of several dedicated Advisory Council members.

New York, USA            
Hannah Goldberg
Sasa kamaboko -- fish paste, shaped like sasa or young bamboo leaves -- has a chewy-juicy texture. Its a Tohoku classic I "discovered" while working on the KIBO project. Here are several, ready to serve with a dab of wasabi and a drizzle of soy sauce.

I was drawn to KIBO because I wanted to do something useful in the wake of the March 11 disaster. The book allowed me to use my particular skill-set (as a chef and a writer) to help in a way that felt really intuitive. What better way for people around the world to relate to the people of Tohoku than through their food? So much of cooking is about compassion, and I feel it every time I recreate a recipe from KIBO.

Testing KIBŌ recipes taught me new cooking skills, especially the treatment of tōfu. I showed my tōfu-hating sister that this can be a great source of protein with lots of flavour. I used BANANA LEAVES to wrap the tōfu instead of the traditional wara straw or the dried bamboo leaves. It gives a greenish color but a great taste. I had doubts while wrapping the tōfu, but it came out great.
This is a new way of handling tōfu that is not used in my country. It gave me a huge insight on an ingredient that I love. and gave me big ideas for new dishes.
Barcelona, SPAIN
Montse
(Monteserrat Diez Rubio)
Photo by L. Frederiksen 

Montreal, CANADA             
Eric Erickson

I am a tremendous fan of Kansha (I have eaten a plant-based diet all my life), so I was excited to have an opportunity to test new recipes from Elizabeth.  I am always looking for ways to expand my culinary horizons. While participating in the Advisory Council I learned about tasty new ingredients and interesting new techniques that I happily applied to create my own dishes. Case in point: my rendition of zunda mochi. I added a touch of sweet, aged balsamic vinegar to the sauce.

I really enjoyed the fresh  édamamé flavor (I crushed my beans in a suribachi, not a food processor) and the chewy dumpling texture. I found that adding a touch of acidity suited my palate. And I played with the presentation... stacking my édamamé on top of the dumplings.

Part of my attraction to this project and to Japanese food is to experience the more authentic taste of Japan. During the time my husband and I lived near Tokyo, Elizabeth Andoh’s cooking courses enriched our experience of Japanese culture and food. When the disaster struck, and Elizabeth wanted volunteers to test recipes for a cookbook devoted to helping the Tohoku region, I begged to be a part of something hopeful. At a recent dinner party, I featured the food and saké of Tohoku. The food is enhanced by being shared.

Virginia, USA
Jocelyn Lofstrom

We LOVED Harako Meshi (above) and plan to make it often. The ikura (red salmon caviar) on top makes the final dish wonderful! We liked it with a touch of yuzu kosho (peppery citrus paste), which added a fresh, spicy note… great contrast to the rich salmon and salty-soy tastes. We easily found jars of yuzu kosho at local (Washington, D.C.) Japanese markets.