The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen, released in October 2003 by Kodansha International, is my modernist/contemporary interpretation of Japanese food. The dishes in the book are the result of a passion for good home-cooked food and experimentation that went on for about 15 years in several almost comically under-equipped kitchens in Japan (though those houses, it must be said, had plenty of other virtues). If I could make these dishes under those conditions, there is no doubt that you can, too, no matter what skill level you currently have.
I like "big" flavors that showcase the freshness of locally grown ingredients. Judicious use of citrus zests and juices, fresh herbs of every kind, both hearty and subtle vinegars, ginger, shallots, and plenty of good salt and good, coarsely ground black pepper allow a home chef to coax the maximum flavor and brightness from organic meats, fish, and produce. This approach has the added though largely unintentional benefit of creating wonderful food without excessive calories, as the use of butter and cream is essentially shunned.
I prefer a minimalist presentation, ideally on handmade Japanese pottery that is a pleasure to hold, use, and wash. I take a playful, free, and joyous approach to making food, and rarely make the same dish in the same way each time I prepare it. The emphasis is on maximal creativity and learning for yourself, over time, what turns you on about food and how it is prepared.
And because I like to drink wine with my meals, most of these dishes were created to go well with wine. I include plenty of specific varietal suggestions in the recipes, in the hope that other wine lovers will be inspired to incorporate a whole new repertoire of dishes to serve with their favorite wines.