i first learned about eric gower's "the breakaway japanese kitchen" cookbook from the fandabidozy she who eats, and, although so many recipes were intriguing, i didn't get around to buying it until last week (honestly, i could never remember the name of it--takeaway kitchen? breakdown kitchen? brokedown palace?). now that i have it, i'm probably going to go all 2004 on you, and do a lot of the recipes that chika's already posted; however, we both have a tendency to stray from printed recipes, so hopefully it won't be stale for you.
i haven't been eating much pasta these days, but i've always had a fondness for chewy, springy udon noodles, and i wanted a sauce that was just as chewy and springy as they are, so i modified gower's recipe for edamame (soy bean) mint pesto for the ingredients i had on hand and made a rough pesto of boiled edamame, smoked almonds, garlic, olive oil, and a generous fistful of mint, cilantro, and flat leafed parsley. i just chucked everything into a blender, and the sauce was done by the time the udon had heated through.
as i was eating this, i was marvelling over the recipe and wondering about the inspiration for it. was it the beautiful greeny tones of the soybeans, herbs, and olive oil? was it the smoky richness of the nuts against the fruity richness of the olive oil? personally, i'd like to think mr. gower was inspired by a round of upscale beer snacks: smoked almonds and edamame--hey, they're good with saketinis, they might be good with something else.
now if he could only come up with something with peanuts and pickled onions....