The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving

by Hiroshi Nagashima (Kodansha International, 2009, 112pp, ¥2,730)

801-DS-Japanese-Food-CarvingYou can tell by the decorative food carving at kaiseki restaurants that the Japanese eat with their eyes. No other book has captured this dying art in such detail.

The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving is filled with instructions and photos that give you the skills to recreate these wonders at home, as well as simple recipes and a guide to carving tools. Most impressive is the delicate and thin slices that chef Hiroshi Nagashima, of Hongan-ji temple restaurant Shisui in Tsukiji, uses to transform fruit and vegetables into edible art.

We tested a few of these techniques at home and were tickled by the successful results. Complicated as some of the shapes look, it is actually easy to make the curls and knots. The chapter on cucumber carvings in particular was a snap to recreate at home, and satisfying to the palate.