by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez / Friday, April 6, 2012
50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #42 Harumi Kurihara - Lettuce-Wrapped Fried Chicken
This is my introduction to Harumi Kurihara. And I can see why she is referred to as the Japanese Martha Stewart -- she has a pretty amazing little empire going on. Yet, she still considers herself a housewife ("shufu"). Born in 1947, she married a TV newscaster in 1973 and had two children. Often, they had visitors from the television industry in their home and of course Harumi would serve them home cooking. Harumi was asked to work as an assistant on a cooking show.
Six years after she started working on the cooking show, she published her first cookbook (1989). In the years that followed, she managed to publish a cookbook a year. In '92 she published a new style of cookbook, Gociososama ga Kikitakute, in which she featured her family's favorite recipes. It was based on everyday home cooking and she used her own personal serving dishes, bowls, and utensils in the photographs. She hit it off big with this one, especially with the housewives and it became a bestseller, as did her follow-up Moichido Godhisosama ga Kikitakute. More than 10,000 copies of these two books are still reprinted each year with the total printed number of the two books now reaching more than two and a quarter million! In '96 she began publishing a quarterly recipe magazine entitled Suteki Recipe. It was the first personal magazine in Japan and it introduced her lifestyle as well as her cooking, gardening, and other creative things (enter the Martha moniker...she even has a book called Everyday Harumi). Her first English cookbook, Harumi's Japanese Cooking, was published in '05 and was named the best in World Asian Cuisine 2004 and Best Cookbook 2004 in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards (the Oscars of Cookbooks).
But that's not all. She has hosted various television shows, currently "Your Japanese Kitchen" which started in '07 in which she introduces Japanese home-cooked dishes in English as well as a cooking corner called "Harumi Kitchen" every Thursday on a weekday morning program.
She still considers herself (and likes being) a housewife. In this manner, she's always tried to introduce her recipes. Perhaps using leftover food in the fridge or ingredients that everyone has in their kitchen. But she adds unique twists to her cooking, giving birth to innovative original recipes. She takes the same approach (that of a housewife) in designing her products and goods, focusing on function and usability. She has a very popular apron line with more than 600 designs. She enjoys life and this is reflected in her wide range of products.
The only book I was actually able to get my hands on locally (library) was Harumi's Japanese Cooking. But that didn't post a problem. I had numerous sticky tabs popping out to mark things that I wanted to try. I wound up going for Japanese-style deep-fried chicken pieces. And am I ever happy that I did. The whole family loved it! The flavor that the marinade imparted on the chicken was fabulous. Wrapping the crispy, flavorful chicken in lettuce with herbs added a cool element. And I added some dipping sauces for good measure. It was a meal that will be repeated in our home.
- 3 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- ¾ c. potato starch or cornstach
- ½ c. all-purpose flour
- oil, for frying
- 3 Tbs. soy sauce
- 1½ Tbs. rice wine vinegar
- 4 fat cloves garlic, minced
- fresh cilantro, mint, and chives
- lettuce (like Romaine or butter), for wrapping
- 1 avocado
- ~3 oz. homemade tofu (or use soft/silken store-bought tofu)
- juice of ½ a lemon
- freshly ground pepper
I am sharing this post with:
Michiana-based food, drink, and travel writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, single malt Scotch, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.