From Japan to Iran: our favourite cookbooks for 2020

From Japan's plethora of skilled chefs and food producers to over 70 Persian-inspired recipes, these are the latest batch of books we're excited about.Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Our pick
Food Artisans of Japan, Nancy Singleton Hachisu 

In her new book, California-born Nancy Singleton Hachisu sets out on a quest to showcase the country’s array of skilled chefs and food producers. Having lived in a farmhouse in Saitama Prefecture for the past 30 years, she’s a long-time advocate of the country’s traditional recipes and ingredients, and has published three books on the subject. Singleton Hachisu’s fourth was born out of a realisation that dawned on her while researching her previous book, Japan: The Cookbook — travelling the country, meeting chefs and producers and taking thousands of photographs. “It was clear I had two books on the table,” she recalls. Food Artisans of Japan is a fascinating deep-dive into Japanese cuisine via its fundamental ingredients, from the well-known — miso, mirin (sweet rice wine) and rice wine vinegar — to the more obscure, such as kombu (dried kelp) and seri (Japanese parsley). The book jumps between profiles of chefs and producers — including a sour plum farmer, a whisky distiller and an artisan potter — to the author’s own recipes. Her dishes, which include aubergine and kabocha tempura, sashimi, and potato dumplings in a sweet red bean sauce, are a celebration of the country’s varied, distinctive and — above all — delicious food culture. £25, Hardie Grant 

If you're after the flavours of Iran...
Pardiz, Manuela Darling-Gansser 

In her new book, Manuela Darling-Gansser draws inspiration from her early childhood, which was spent in Iran. Alongside passages of memoir and travel writing, Pardiz features 70 Persian-inspired recipes, from herb-heavy vegetable fritters to mahi-e sorkh kardeh (fried fish in spicy sauce), as well as desserts including saffron ice cream and pomegranate granita. £30, Hardie Grant

If you're after something fiery...
Black Axe Mangal, Lee Tiernan 

Bold, open-fire cookery set to a backdrop of blaring music, tattoos, queues and the odd bit of heavy metal-inspired face paint: all are par for the course at chef Lee Tiernan’s London restaurant, Black Axe Mangal. And now you can recreate some of his best-loved dishes — from shrimp-encrusted pig’s tails with pickled chicory to squid ink flatbread with smoked cod’s roe — at home. £25, Phaidon

If you're after whiskey...
The Curious Bartender’s Whiskey Road Trip, Tristan Stephenson 

Drinks writer and bartender Tristan Stephenson visited 50 backwater distilleries, from Tennessee to Texas, discovering the fascinating story of American whiskey and bourbon. His richly illustrated book also features detailed tasting notes, as well as classic whiskey cocktail recipes to try. £16.99, Ryland Peters & Small 

If you're after plant-based Asian flavours...
East, Meera Sodha

Travel Asia one dish at a time in the third book by food writer Meera Sodha. Based on her popular column in The Guardian, it’s a collection of midweek-friendly, plant-based dishes inspired by Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and beyond, with a focus on seasonality. Look out for the likes of pistachio and pea-flecked soba noodles, and Vietnamese coconut pancakes. £20, Penguin  

Printed in the Jan/Feb issue of National Geographic Traveller Food. 

Follow us on social media 

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Read More