Unconventional first lady writes Japanese cookery book

Apparently not satisfied with the duties attached to being First Lady of Japan, designing home interiors and her role as a "life composer," selecting people's clothes and food, Miyuki Hatoyama has spilled the beans on the prime minister's favorite food in a new cooking book.

Home Cooking with Japan's First Lady: Family Dishes from the Hatoyama Kitchen is the latest escapade by the notoriously unconventional Mrs. Hatoyama, a former member of the all-female Takarazuka Review musical troupe and a regular on Japan's television chat show circuit, she is comfortable discussing everything from politics to religion and cooking.

Her book also taps into the apparently insatiable appetite for cookbooks in Japan, many with tie-ins with celebrities. Nobu Miami: The Party Cookbook, by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, is still selling well globally, while Madonna penned the preface to Mayumi's Kitchen: Macrobiotic Cooking for Body and Soul, the new book by her chef Mayumi Nishimura, stating, "Your amazing food helped me to be a happier, healthier person, balanced in body and mind."   

Mrs. Hatoyama's recipes range from family favourites such as chicken wings with soy sauce and seasoning salt through stir-fried squid and kimchi, Korean seafood hotpot and yellowtail shabu-shabu, to some simple appetizers - baked buttered clams and crispy, whisky-battered seafood. She also includes some of her personal favorites, spareribs in marmalade and soy sauce and pork tenderloin poached in black tea with balsamic vinegar.

Mrs. Hatoyama says her use of ingredients from around the world is a result of the time she spent overseas as a child and when she met her future husband in California, where he was studying at Stanford University.

"My recipes are products of my experience; more than simply instructions for preparing food, they are infused with the time, place, occasion and people who helped create the memories," she writes in the introduction. She also reveals the secret of the "Hatoyama dressing" for salads and her own recipe for Japanese "dashi" soup stock.

Home Cooking with Japan's First Lady: Family Dishes from the Hatoyama Kitchen, y Miyuki Hatoyama. Published by Kodansha International. Y2,000 in Japan and $19.95 in the U.S., where it goes on sale in May.

JR

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