Peko Peko: A cookbook to support Japan's recovery
By design, the emblem atop the Peko Peko cookbook evokes a red teardrop. Or a drop of blood. Or perhaps a drip of water -- or the red disk at the center of Japan's national flag.
"It symbolizes all those things," said Rachael Hutchings of Corona, better known in the blogosphere as "La Fuji Mama." She co-created the cookbook along with fellow bloggers Stacie Billis ("One Hungry Mama") and Marc Matsumoto ("No Recipes") in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan. At least 25,000 are either confirmed or presumed dead.
Hutchings, like so many Americans, was going about her normal routine that day when she learned of the tragedy and immediately wondered what she could do to help. The crisis struck a personal chord as well -- Hutchings has twice lived in Japan, and her blog, which delivers world flavors to the dinner table, often includes Asian fare.
Hutchings and her co-creators reached out to prominent food writers to ask them for recipes and stories about Japan and Japanese food -- and were soon overwhelmed with replies.
"Everyone was willing to help," she said, so much so that they had to cap the number of submissions. The writers in the cookbook include Jaden Hair, Amanda Hesser, Merrill Stubbs and Helene Dujardin.
The charity cookbook is self-published, but you wouldn't suspect it based upon the sleek design and gorgeous food photography. It costs $29.95 with all the proceeds going to Global Giving, which offers micro-financing to victims and survivors. Peko Peko features over 50 "family-friendly" Japanese recipes including Japanese fried chicken, candied sweet potato wedges and miso ramen. (The title refers to the oft-heard way that little ones in Japan make it known that they are hungry and ready to eat!)
Hutchings said the organizers bandied about a few concepts for the book before settling on Japanese recipes. Sharing Japanese food -- and a grateful moment or two -- with family and friends was "one way to honor [both the victims and the survivors who are slowly rebuidling their lives] and remember them. It's a way to keep them close in our everyday lives."
Here's a look inside the cookbook, along with Hutchings' recipe for Clear Clam Soup. If you're looking for a holiday stocking stuffer, this might be it.
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