A sushi New Year to you and yours

The New Year is the perfect time to expand one's horizons, conquer new heights and learn interesting things. When this can be accomplished in the comfort of your own kitchen, all the better.

"Sushi: Taste and Technique," by Kimiko Barber and Nobu chef Hiroki Takemura (DK Publishing; $20), takes a fascinatingly unromantic look at this still-exotic cuisine and offers usable instruction on the way of the sushi chef.

From history (raw sushi only dates back to the 1800s), to an amazing fish identification and preparation section (how to spot fresh fish and alternative, less expensive species), the book is packed with blunt-yet-respectful prose and instructive photos. The step-by-step primer of sushi styles complements the detailed kitchen-techniques section (from maki to pressed sushi) and the etiquette guide (stop putting wasabi in the soy sauce!). Read and learn.