La Varenne Pratique by Anne Willan [pdf, epub, ISBN: B00I9GEAYY]

  • Full Title : La Varenne Pratique: Part 1, The Basics
  • Autor: Anne Willan
  • Print Length: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Anne Willan, Inc.; 1 edition
  • Publication Date: September 16, 1989
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: B00I9GEAYY
  • ISBN-13: 
  • Download File Format: pdf, epub


Still innovative in scope and clarity La Varenne Pratique is the essential culinary reference book for novice and expert cooks alike, bringing together a practical understanding of cooking techniques, ingredients and equipment in an unrivaled guide. The ebook edition is divided into four parts: Part 1, The Basics covers Herbs, Spices, Flavorings, Stocks & Soups, Sauces, Milk, Cheese & Eggs and Fats & Oils; Part 2, Meat, Poultry & Fish covers Fish, Shellfish, Poultry & Game Birds, and Meat & Charcuterie; Part 3, Vegetables, Pasta & Grains covers Vegetables, Mushrooms, Grains & Legumes and Pasta; and Part 4, Baking, Preserving & Desserts covers Flour, Breads & Batters, Pastry & Cookies, Cakes & Icings, Sugar & Chocolate, Cold Desserts & Ice Creams, and Fruit & Nuts as well as Preserving & Freezing. Every chapter offers an overview of the food covered and explains how to choose, prepare, store, cook and present it. Recipes are included wherever an important cooking technique requires a specific example – carefully chosen not only to illustrate a particular dish but to illuminate a way of cooking. Included in each part is a guide to cooking equipment, a glossary of culinary terms and the original reference bibliography. The print edition’s original, extensive food grouping and step-by-step groundbreaking photography has been digitized and continues to clearly illustrate the topics and techniques covered in the text. Comprehensive, authoritative and practical, La Varenne Pratique, Part 1, The Basics, is a complete primer on the fundamentals of good cooking including detailed recipes.




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ns, wheat, salt and water. Although there are many different types in Japan, there are three types that are available outside Japan. These are: dark, light and tamari. The dark all-purpose soy sauce is used for most of the recipes in this book unless specified otherwise. If you or anyone in your family suffers from wheat intolerance, use tamari, which should not contain wheat. However, as manufacturers often use the term loosely, always read the label carefully before buying. Slightly thicker and less salty than the other soy sauces, tamari is also used for dipping. Light soy sauce is much saltier than the dark variety and is used in cooking when dark soy sauce would discolour the food. Buy a small bottle of dark soy sauce if you prefer to keep only one type.

Available in glass or toughened plastic bottles, soy sauce is best kept tightly capped in a cool, dark kitchen cupboard or, better still, in the refrigerator, if you have room. Its subtle aroma does fade after several weeks so buy it in small quantities. You may find that small sodium crystals have begun to form around the cap during storage. These are not harmful – just wipe the bottle clean and continue to use it.

In response to recent concerns about daily salt intake, some reduced-sodium soy sauces are now available, but the flavour can be disappointing. If you want to reduce your salt intake choose recipes that require little or no salt, or dilute regular dark soy sauce with water or dashi (see pages 16–17). However, you will find that the recipes in this book use surprisingly little salt.


Alongside soy sauce, miso is one of the most important seasonings in Japanese cooking and, like soy sauce, is made from fermented soybeans. It is an exceptionally healthy food, packed with vitamin E and minerals. During fermentation its soy protein is converted into an easily digestible form of amino acids. Miso lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, and is said to help ward off cancer.

Miso is available in different colours and textures, ranging from pale cream, called ‘white’, through to a light peanut butter and milk chocolate colour to a steely dark brown. The texture of different misos can also vary, from a soft cream cheese consistency to grainy, then dry and hard. In general, the darker the colour the harder and saltier the miso. A good all-purpose miso to use is a medium-brown, milk chocolate-coloured paste with a texture similar to cream cheese. You will probably find that you choose the most popular variety of rice miso, which is fermented by adding rice to cooked soybean mash. Others, however, are made from wheat, barley or soybeans alone.

Sold in plastic packaging or containers, miso is best transferred to an airtight container once opened. It will keep well for up to six months stored in the refrigerator.


Every culinary culture has its own favourite vinegar and in Japan this is rice vinegar, which is a light golden colour with a mild and fragrant flavour. Throughout this book, use Japanese rice vinegar unless specified otherwise.

There are many brands of rice vinegar and each manufacturer produces several different grades. The grading of rice vinegar is quite similar to that of olive oil. Junmai-su, which means ‘pure rice vinegar’, is the highest quality – the equivalent of extra virgin olive oil – and is made from the first pressing of polished white Japanese rice. The next in order of quality and purity is kome-su, meaning ‘rice vinegar’. Lower-quality vinegars contain added alcohol and are made from other grains. In general, price is a good indication of quality – buy the best quality you can afford for the finest flavour.

As vinegar darkens with age and through exposure to light, it should be stored in tightly capped glass bottles in a cool, dark kitchen cupboard. Its gentle aroma can begin to fade after the bottle has been open for several weeks, so it is best to buy a small quantity at a time and to use it as quickly as possible.


Sake is Japan’s traditional alcoholic drink and it has a long and intriguing history. It is distilled from steamed and fermented rice, is clear in appearance and has as many as 400 flavour components. Sake is assessed according to five basic qualities: dryness, sweetness, bitterness, acidity and astringency, or tartness. There are thousands of sake brewers across Japan and each manufacturer has its own unique combination of those five qualities. The brand of sake you choose is a matter of personal preference.

Although in recent years beer and wine have become the Japanese nation’s favourite drinks, sake’s cultural and culinary importance remains unchallenged. In the kitchen, sake performs many functions. It adds flavour and depth to dishes, is used as a cooking liquor and as a base for marinades and preserves, and to neutralise the strong smell of fish and meat. Table-quality dry sake is the most versatile – avoid ‘cooking sake’, which often has a strong artificial smell and is usually of an inferior grade that contains additives. Store sake tightly capped in a cool, dark kitchen cupboard and use within eight weeks of opening.


A sweet sake, mirin is used only for cooking. The best-quality mirin is made from rice in a process similar to that used for brewing sake. With a clear, amber-coloured, syrupy liquid and a faint aroma of sake, mirin is used as a sweetener and glazing agent to give food an attractive shine. Three teaspoons of mirin is the equivalent in sweetness of one teaspoon of sugar. Mirin has a relatively long shelf life, although its aroma fades soon after opening. It should be stored in a cool, dark kitchen cupboard until it is needed and stored in the refrigerator once opened. Use within eight weeks of opening.

basic ingredients – the YO! Sushi pantry

Listed below are basic ingredients that are used in many of the recipes in this book. Some of these may look strange and smell odd if you are not used to them, but they are easy to cook with and turn ordinary dishes into something special.

black and white sesame seeds Toasting sesame seeds gives them a rich flavour. You can buy them ready toasted, but if unavailable use raw sesame seeds, which are flatter in shape and lighter in colour, to toast yourself. Put them in dry frying pan over medium heat, and shake the pan frequently, for 5–7 minutes or until lightly toasted. Toasted sesame seeds will store for three months in a sealed container in a dark cupboard. If you are using them after one month it is best to retoast them to revive their flavour.

bonito fish flakes The dried shavings or flakes of the bonito, or skipjack tuna, are used to flavour dashi stock (see pages 16–17). Traditionally, bonito fish flakes were sold in solid lumps to be shaved at home, but today, especially outside Japan, they are sold ready shaved. Do not buy too large a quantity at a time, as the distinctive smoky flavour fades quickly. Once opened, keep in an airtight bag and store in a dark, dry kitchen cupboard and use within eight weeks.

dashinomoto This is an instant dashi stock powder that makes a useful stand-by for making dashi stock – the basic stock that is used in many Japanese recipes (see pages 16–17).

konbu (dried kelp seaweed) This dark green seaweed imparts a subtle flavour and is used for making dashi stock, the base for many Japanese dishes. Konbu grows up to 10m (33ft) long in the cold seas around the northern island of Hokkaido. It is sold dried, either ready-cut or in long strips. Once opened store in an airtight bag in a dark, dry kitchen cupboard and use within three months.

mushrooms You will find several varieties of Japanese mushrooms, especially shiitake (see below), used in the recipes for their individual qualities: shimeji for their distinct nutty flavour and aroma, enoki for their beautiful and delicate appearance and texture, and maitake for their lace-like appearance and fine taste. It has become increasingly easy to buy them fresh from supermarkets. dried shiitake mushrooms are used for their strong flavour. They first need to be reconstituted. Soak in warm water for 5–10 minutes then cut off and discard the stalks. The soaking liquid can be used in recipes to add richness.

noodles The noodles most frequently used in the recipes are: soba (thin, dark noodles made from buckwheat flour and therefore gluten-free), somen (a thin white noodle) and udon (a wheat-flour noodle that is thicker than the soba noodle). Other noodles include yakisoba noodles (soft semi-cooked Chinese-style egg noodles), sold in vacuum packs in supermarkets and often labelled ‘stir-fry noodles’, and harusame noodles (made from mung bean or potato starch).

nori This marine algae is formed into paper-like sheets and is an essential ingredient for making rolled sushi, such as maki rolls, hand rolls and inside-out rolls.

panko Also known as Japanese breadcrumbs, panko are coarse white breadcrumbs used to give a light and crunchy coating to fried food.

pickled sushi ginger is thinly sliced root ginger macerated in sweetened vinegar. It is served with sushi as a palate cleanser and digestive aid.

rice The short-grain Japanese rice, which supermarkets often sell as ‘sushi rice’, has a soft and sticky texture when cooked. (See pages 18–21 for instructions on how to cook rice and prepare sushi rice.)

sansho pepper This Japanese white pepper is made from the ground seedpods of the Japanese prickly ash and is used as a seasoning. It has a refreshing aroma of mint and basil with a touch of liquorice, similar to that of Sichuan pepper. It is often used with grilled oily fish and chicken.

shichimi togarashi Also known as Japanese seven-spice chilli powder, this seasoning is a blend of chilli, black and white sesame seeds, dried citrus peels and seaweeds. It is a traditional seasoning for noodles and yakitori.

tofu, or soybean curd, is a nutritious protein food made from soybeans. There are two main types: firm and silken. Firm tofu can be cut into slices or cubes, whereas silken tofu is a soft form of tofu rather like yogurt in consistency. Before using firm tofu, drain the liquid it has been stored in and rinse under cold running water. Then wrap it in kitchen paper and allow to stand for 15–20 minutes.

wakame This green, silky seaweed wakame is satin-like in texture and rich in vitamin A, calcium, minerals and fibre. A healthy food, it also lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. Wakame is often sold in dried form and once rehydrated is used in soups and salads.

wasabi is made from an aquatic plant that grows in Japan and has a distinct, strong flavour similar to horseradish. It is available in a powder or paste form. The powder form is more economical and keeps longer; to use, mix it with water until it forms a thick paste.

yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that looks like a yellow tangerine. It is used both for its peel and for its juice. Outside Japan the juice is sold in bottles. The juice is relatively expensive, as it comes from a very slow-growing plant. Once opened, yuzu juice should be stored in the refrigerator and used within eight weeks.

basic techniques

This section covers the basic techniques used in Japanese cooking. Preparing dashi stock and sushi rice are quick and easy to learn, and are the building blocks which will enable you to make countless dishes. Cutting sashimi as well as rolling and forming various kinds of sushi take time and practice but you will find it enjoyable to experiment with them as you learn. Even imperfectly cut sashimi and oddly shaped rolled sushi will taste great, and you will soon find your skills improving.

dashi stock

Dashi stock is the basis of many dishes, so it is often the first item to be prepared in the Japanese kitchen, but, unlike western stocks, it takes only minutes to make. There are several types of dashi to suit different purposes. The three that follow are easy to make and versatile. A subtly aromatic, clear broth, dashi stock enhances and intensifies the flavour of foods it is cooked or blended with. However, it is more than just a stock: it gives a delicate base note to soups, salads, dipping sauces, rice and noodles as well as all kinds of simmered, steamed and stewed foods.

number 1 dashi

This is the most popular variety of dashi, which is made from konbu and bonito fish flakes. A good dashi is delicious enough to eat on its own but requires the best-quality ingredients for a full flavour. This recipe makes 1 litre (1 3/4 pints).

1 postcard-size piece of konbu

1 litre (1 3/4 pints) water

20g (3/4oz) dried bonito flakes

Wipe off any pieces of dirt from the konbu with damp kitchen paper, then make small tears in it to encourage the maximum release of flavour. Place in a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil over a low heat. Remove the konbu when it begins to float to the surface, just before the water reaches boiling point – do not boil the konbu as it will discolour the dashi and make it taste bitter.

Add the bonito flakes and bring the water back to the boil, then remove from the heat. Allow the flakes to settle to the bottom of the pan, then strain the stock using a fine-meshed sieve lined with kitchen paper or a coffee filter.

The delicate flavour and taste of dashi is lost if it is frozen, so it is best to make the stock fresh each time and use it the same day.

vegetarian dashi

In the traditional Japanese kitchen, vegetarian dashi is made from konbu and dried shiitake mushrooms, which give it a subtle smoky flavour. Makes I litre (1 3/4 pints).

2 postcard-size pieces of konbu

3 dried shiitake mushrooms

1 litre (1 3/4 pints) water

Wipe the konbu clean with damp kitchen paper and make some tears in it to help it to infuse and for the maximum release of flavour. Place the konbu and the mushrooms in a saucepan with the water and leave to soak for at least 1 hour or overnight. Bring slowly to the boil over a low heat.

Remove the konbu when it begins to float to the surface, just before the water reaches boiling point. Turn up the heat and boil rapidly for 2 minutes, then set aside to cool to room temperature. Remove the mushrooms.

As with the number 1 dashi stock, this vegetarian dashi also loses its delicate flavour and aroma if frozen. It is therefore best to make a fresh batch each time you need it and to use it the same day.

water dashi

This flavoursome dashi is the easiest version to prepare; it is not cooked but left to infuse overnight, ready to use the next day. Makes I litre (1 3/4 pints).

1 postcard-size piece of konbu

3 dried shiitake mushrooms

7g (1/4 oz) dried bonito flakes

1 litre (1 3/4 pints) water (boiled tap water or bottled spring water)

Wipe the konbu clean with damp kitchen paper and make some tears in it to help it to infuse and for the maximum release of flavour. Put all the dry ingredients in a glass jug with a lid or sealable plastic container and add the water. Chill in the refrigerator overnight and strain before use. The dashi will keep up for up to three days in the refrigerator.

how to cook rice

Rice is the staple of the Japanese diet, and no matter how elaborate a meal may be, the main course always includes a bowl of rice. Although domestic production and consumption have been on the decline for some decades due to the ever-increasing westernisation of Japanese life, this humble grain still holds centre stage in the Japanese kitchen. American-grown, Japanese-style, short-grain rice is widely available outside Japan and is the closest substitute for home-grown rice. Typically sold in 1kg (2 1/4lb) or 2.5kg (5 1/2lb) packages, it is usually labelled ‘Japanese-style’ or ‘sushi’ rice.

Today, nearly all Japanese households have automatic electric or gas rice cookers complete with electric timers, a choice of programmes, thermal control and options such as delayed start, and they are used at least once a day for preparing family meals. An electric rice cooker is a labour-saving, fail-safe piece of kitchen equipment, and will deliver consistently good results – if you often eat rice it is well worth buying one. But you can also cook perfect Japanese rice without an automatic rice cooker.

For rice with a subtly sweet taste, which is plump, glossy and slightly sticky (so that it is easy to eat with chopsticks), you need to wash off the starch that coats the surface of the raw grain before you begin cooking.

Below you will find two methods for cooking and preparing ‘Japanese style’ rice: the first method is for making rice that is to be eaten on its own, to be fried or to accompany other dishes (such as donburi or curry); the second method is for making rice for sushi (such as maki, nigiri, hand rolls, and inside-out rolls).

cooking rice for non-sushi dishes

Measure the rice into a large bowl and add plenty of cold water. Stir vigorously, then drain the milky water through a fine-meshed sieve. Return the rinsed rice to the bowl and repeat until the water runs clear. The rice will need between 3 and 5 washes before the rinsing water runs clear and will become slightly opaque as it begins to absorb moisture. Leave the rice in the sieve to continue draining for at least 1 hour before cooking. If you are short of time you can leave the rice to soak in the saucepan with the water for cooking (see below) for 10–15 minutes before you turn on the heat. A saucepan with a thick base (preferably curved rather than flat) and a tight-fitting, solid lid is ideal.

To cook rice, you will need about 20 per cent more water by volume than dry rice. To serve four people use 300–400g (10–14oz) dry rice and 360–480ml (13–17fl oz) water. Put the washed and drained rice with the measured water into a saucepan over a medium to high heat and bring to the boil. Try to resist the temptation to lift the lid to see how it is cooking, as you want to keep all the steam inside – listen for boiling sounds instead. Depending on the amount of rice you are cooking, it should take between 5 and 7 minutes to reach a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for a further 5–7 minutes before turning off the heat. Do not lift the lid but let the rice stand for 10 minutes to cook in its own steam.

With a moistened spatula, turn the cooked rice over from the bottom to fluff it up, and place a tea towel under the lid to absorb the steam and prevent it cooking further while you are waiting to serve.

YO! Sushi tips

A golden-coloured crust sometimes forms on the bottom of cooked rice. This is the equivalent of the crusty heel of a loaf and it can be broken up and distributed through the white rice or set aside to eat later with a sprinkling of salt.

Rice is an annual plant typically harvested in the autumn in the northern hemisphere. In Japan, newly harvested rice – shin mai –comes on to the market from September to November. The American equivalent is often labelled as ?new harvest rice?, distinguishing it from previous years’ rice crops. Newly harvested rice is sweet and contains more moisture, so it needs less water to cook.

cooking and preparing sushi rice

Good sushi begins with good sushi rice. Of course, the quality and freshness of the fish is paramount, but the importance of the sushi rice is often overlooked. At sushi restaurants, su-meshi, (literally, vinegar-flavoured rice) is called shari – an esoteric reference to the bones of Buddha, which reflects the importance of sushi rice in Japanese food culture.

To prepare sushi rice, you need less water than when cooking normal, plain-boiled rice because vinegar is added after cooking. The ratio of rice to water


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