If I'm to be totally honest, I know hardly anything about Japanese Food. I used to work for a rare book auctioneers off Hanover Square, which was a good thing- mainly because of the numerous small Japanese restaurants in the area, and lunching at these places on a regular basis, I managed to shed several pounds off the old spare tyre.
Most Londoners assume that Japanese Food is all about sushi and sashimi. I'm very aware that it isn't, and there's much more to it than that. So, I was delighted to discover Peter and Joan Martin's Japanese Cooking, published by the Penguin Cookery Library back in 1970. It's all amazingly simple, and I'm encouraged by the fact that most of the ingredients you need are readily available over here.
In contrast, my interest in Mexican Food has hit the wall, because so many of the ingredients you need are almost impossible to find in Britain, unless you buy them in mail order.
Here's their oh-so-simple recipe for sauteed broad beans. First you shell the beans. Next you heat up your trusty wok (an authentic one from Chinatown please, NOT the non-stick version), and pour in some oil. Cook the broad beans on a high heat, tossing them with a spatula, until they start turning brown. Add a splash of soy sauce, a tablespoon of sugar, and a dash of sake. When the beans are tender, serve.
Oh, and I forgot to mention- the Martins' recommend that you add a pinch of monsodium glutamate. Before you all bombard me with outraged emails, I have a suspicion that MSG was (is even) a regular component of authentic Japanese cooking. If you google "MSG" you will find that that this sinister substance is actually a natural product made "by fermenting certain strands of bacteria, and is found naturally in both molasses, and tomatoes". Hmmm...