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Ivan Orkin is a self-described gaijin (guy-jin), a Japanese term that means “outsider.” He has been hopelessly in love with the food of Japan since he was a teenager on Long Island. Even after living in Tokyo for decades and running two ramen shops that earned him international renown, he remained a gaijin.
Fortunately, being a lifelong outsider has made Orkin a more curious, open, and studious chef. In The Gaijin Cookbook, he condenses his experiences into approachable recipes for every occasion, including weeknights with picky kids, boozy weekends, and celebrations. Everyday dishes like Pork and Miso-Ginger Stew, Stir-Fried Udon, and Japanese Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce are what keep the Orkin family connected to Japan. For more festive dinners, he suggests a Temaki Party, where guests assemble their own sushi from cooked and fresh fillings. And recipes for Bagels with Shiso Gravlax and Tofu Coney Island (fried tofu with mushroom chili) reveal the eclectic spirit of Ivan’s cooking.