Editor’s note: The theme of Gohan Lab is to help people make simple, tasty “gohan” (meals).

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This week's recipe for salmon with vinegar sauce takes full advantage of vinegar's extra capacity to provide "umami" derived from the ingredients in a dish and its complex aroma, which comes from the maturation process.

 All you need to whip it together are a few familiar ingredients and a frying pan.

 "Vinegar gives an edge to the rich and sweet flavor created by onion sauteed in butter, and brings together the whole dish," says chef Kuniaki Arima, who supervised the recipe's cooking aspect.

Whereas wine vinegar would have been the go-to choice in Italian cuisine, Arima went with rice vinegar with a few drops of soy sauce. The dish goes great with rice as well as wine.

When the salmon’s skin heats from grilling, the gelatinous part and fat, which have distinctive flavors, melt and the skin turns crisp. To brown the surface quickly and add a roasted flavor, sprinkle a small amount of sugar on the fish along with the salt.

The recipe's arranged version introduces a wine vinegar sauce. To give the green asparagus a more Italian aroma, use anchovies instead of soy sauce.



Balsamic vinegar, which originated in Italy, offers a rich flavor and gentle sourness. Traditionally, it was produced by concentrating grape juice and aged for a long time, making it a rare product.

The vinegar is thick and robust and its taste resembles dried grapes or prunes. Popular brands with modest price tags are made by mixing wine vinegar with concentrated juice so that both the consistency and flavor feel lighter.

Balsamic vinegar can be poured in small amounts on cooked fish or chicken as a sauce or used in a dressing. Mix salt, pepper, one part of balsamic vinegar to two or three parts of olive oil to make a dressing.

It's also a good match with rocket roquette and other green vegetables and seared "katsuo no tataki," skipjack tuna sashimi.


(Supervised by Kuniaki Arima in the cooking aspect and Takuya Yorozu in the cookery science aspect)

* Ingredients (Serves one)

100 grams salmon, bit of salt, bit of sugar, 1/2 (100 grams) newly harvested onion, 1/2 clove garlic, 1 Tbsp vinegar, 1/2 tsp soy sauce, 5 Tbsp water, 15 grams butter, some Italian parsley (1 to 2 stalks)

About 400 kcal and 1.4 grams salt per portion

1. Crush garlic. Cut onion into 7- to 8-mm-thick wedges. Chop parsley. Sprinkle bit of salt and sugar on skin side of salmon.

2. Place frying pan with 5 grams butter on low heat. Add garlic. When it starts to sizzle, lower heat further and heat until brown.

3. Cook salmon from skin side (PHOTO A). Heat over medium heat without moving it. Once skin browns and becomes crispy, turn the sides and cover with lid. After roasting for about 3 minutes, remove salmon and let it cook with residual heat.

4. Spread onion in frying pan after removing fish. Cook over low heat, occasionally stirring. When slices turn transparent, add soy sauce, vinegar, water and raise to medium heat (PHOTO B). Boil down till liquid is reduced to a third, add 10 grams butter and melt by moving pan in circular motion (PHOTO C). Check taste and add salt if needed. Add parsley, turn off heat and pour the liquid onto the salmon.


Kuniaki Arima is the owner-chef of Passo a Passo, an Italian restaurant in Tokyo's Fukagawa.

Takuya Yorozu works at the menu communication section at Mizkan.


Asparagus with vinegar sauce

Peel hard ends of a bunch of asparagus and boil in hot water with salt concentration of 1 percent (10 grams of salt in 1 liter water). Add 1 tsp olive oil and 1/2 clove garlic to frying pan and let aroma rise. Add 1 tsp chopped anchovies, 1 Tbsp wine vinegar, two pinches sugar and 5 Tbsp water. Boil down till water is reduced to a third, melt 10 grams butter. Add some chopped parsley and pour over asparagus. Sprinkle chopped boiled egg if preferred.


Vinegar is said to enhance the salty taste felt in a dish.

We did an experiment that taste-tested consomme, dried skipjack tuna stock and chicken-bone stock with a salt concentration of 0.8 percent with a stock of 0.7 percent plus a bit of vinegar. There wasn’t much difference in saltiness between the stocks.

When less salt offers the same saltiness, it is called a salt-reduction effect.