It’s so ironic. Japanese tourists would drop hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars gobbling up American goods when they’re visiting the states on a holiday, while we Japanese living in the states would spend three times as much to get Japan-made products online or at local Japanese stores!
I love Japanese book and I can spend hours browsing through Amazon Japan to check out fun cookbooks and craft books. I usually resist the urge to purchase anything since it’s more expensive to buy it here and the shipping fee is pretty ridiculous, but once in a while, especially when I’m tired and lacking the willpower, I push the “click to purchase” button, which immediately follows by a buyer’s remorse. But most Japanese books are so well written and practical, I’m always glad to have ordered them when they arrive at my doorstep three to five business days later.
My latest purchase was this baking book titled, “Mainichi Tabetai Gohan no Youna Kukki to Bisuketto no Hon,” (まいにち食べたい“ごはんのような”クッキーとビスケットの本), which translates loosely to, “Book of cookies and biscuits you want to eat every day like a meal.” The author, Shiho Nakashima, cleverly and quite accurately titled the book as such, because all the recipes included here are so healthy (maple syrup instead of white sugar; a tiny bit of canola oil instead of butter, and no eggs, for example), one won’t experience an ounce of guilt even after eating these baked snacks every day.
The basic, and perhaps the most popular among the cult followers (Nakashima has published several more books on this “every day” series, including everyday muffins, crackers, and chiffon cakes, which are equally impressive), is the Smile Biscuit, which you see here. It’s made out of the combination of whole wheat and cake flours, maple syrup, and canola oil. I was pretty hesitant at first (how can something with virtually nothing in it possibly taste good?) but I was surprised when I took the first bite of the super dense biscuit. It was absolutely sensational! It was so simple but not plain, and so gentle but not flavorless. It reminded me of snacks I grew up eating in Japan in the early 80s, before all the artificial sweets began filling up the grocery store shelves.
You can’t really think of this as a substitute for a regular, butter and sugar cookie but think of this rather as something completely new to our taste buds. Sure, it tastes nothing like the cookies that we’re accustomed to, but it brings a wonderful, fresh flavor and texture (and so much comfort) that would sure to satisfy any adventurous and open-minded cookie lovers out there. I am absolutely in love with these cookies / biscuits and I will, in fact, bake them and eat them every day as part of my daily dining ritual. (Confession: I received this book a week ago and I already made four batches of it.)
Here’s the video of the author making the Smile Biscuit!
I love Japanese everything. I used to watch Nippon television when I was younger, hoping one day to go to Japan. The game shows seemed like so much fun, even though I didn’t know who was winning and who was losing. Now I watch NHK television. I’m in love with the show “Design Talks”. The title of that book is hilarious. I love it. I would definitely buy that book if I could read it. I also love the fact that the recipes are more healthy too. I no longer buy sugar or white flour, so it’s always good to find recipes that don’t require them. I only use olive oil and coconut oil. I wonder if that would work for these cookies? Those smile biscuits are making me want to make cookies now. Lol!! 😄
It’s so wonderful to hear that you love the Japanese culture and TV shows! My parents have TV Japan and watch the Japanese shows on NHK all the time. I love visiting so I can watch them too! Have you seen the show, “Cool Japan”? It features all the quirky Japanese cultural things that are so different from the states. It’s really good — and it’s in English! I’ve got to check out “Design Talks”!
I use olive oil and coconut oil too. I think the olive oil will work on the recipe, although it may give a strong flavor (which can actually be good). Coconut oil might give a different texture and flavor.
I guess it’s worth a try making them with the coconut oil. We’ll see. Design Talks is about all different types of Japanese design. I’ve never seen the show Cool Japan, but I just looked it up on my cable and set it to record on my DVR. I’m excited to see what it’s all about. Thanks for the recommendation.
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