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

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Capping off our series on canned food are beans, which we tend to eat less of than the official target for daily consumption. Granted, incorporating dried beans in cooking takes time, even days, as they must be rehydrated and then simmered. But precooked canned beans are fail-proof and easy to handle.

This time, we'll simmer them with meatballs to offer a combination of chewy and tender textures.

This week's recipe is based on a dish from Tuscany, Italy, where raw sausage known as salsiccia is simmered with beans.

"By cooking in the liquid full of the richness and flavor of meat, the dish requires little additional seasoning. I even recommend it to people who don't like the dry texture of beans," says chef Kuniaki Arima, who oversaw the cooking aspect of the recipe.

The "mixed bean salad" is bulkier than the usual salad and turns into a fancier dish. Using tuna instead of prosciutto also works well.


One plus of canned food is it maintains a sealed microbe-free state. As long as cans are sealed, the food inside won't spoil. But if minute holes form due to the corrosion of the can or distortion caused by dropping, there is a risk of microbes entering with water or air.

The Japan Canners Association cautions consumers to look out for changes in the appearance of cans, especially those past the best before date. Be careful if the rim of the lid is bent or dented, the can is bulging, or the lid yields to pressure when pressed.

Canned food should be kept in a place with little temperature fluctuation and away from direct sunlight, high temperature and humidity, according to the association.


(Supervised by Kuniaki Arima in the cooking aspect and Midori Kasai in the cookery science aspect)

* Ingredients (Serves two)
1 can of soybeans (plain "mizuni" type) (300 grams including liquid), 200 grams mixture of ground beef and pork (aibiki-niku), 10 grams miso, bit of chili powder, 1/2 clove garlic grated, 100 ml sake, 80 grams onion, 4 cherry tomatoes, olive oil, 200 ml water

About 595 kcal and 1.9 grams salt per portion

1. Cut onion into thin wedges. Slice cherry tomatoes in half.

2. Add ground meat, miso, chili powder and garlic into bowl, knead by gripping mixture (PHOTO A).

3. Pour 1 Tbsp olive oil into pot and place on medium heat. Cook onion and when it turns soft and transparent, lower heat. Add sake and cherry tomatoes.

4. When pot comes to a boil, add liquid from soybeans can and water (PHOTO B). When it comes to a boil again, drop in meat mixture in bite-size balls (PHOTO C). Leave for about a minute, mix lightly when meat becomes firm, and add soybeans. Maintain slightly boiling state and cook until liquid is reduced to a half to a third. Add bit of salt to taste, pour in 1 Tbsp olive oil in a circular motion and mix in ingredients using a large motion.


Kuniaki Arima is the owner-chef of Passo a Passo, an Italian restaurant in Tokyo's Fukagawa.
Midori Kasai is a professor at Ochanomizu University and chairwoman of the Japan Society of Cookery Science.


Mixed bean salad

Slice 1/4 of red onion, sprinkle and knead in salt and drain. Boil 2 okras and chop. Quarter 2 cherry tomatoes. Remove seeds from 1/4 bell pepper ("papurika" type) and slice. Place all ingredients with 3 to 4 garlic slices in bowl, add 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt and mix. Add 2 to 3 prosciutto slices cut into bite-size pieces and a can of mixed beans (100 grams without liquid) as well as 1 Tbsp wine vinegar, and mix. Add some salt to taste. Sprinkle on parsley if available.


Canned soybeans are usually cooked under pressure during the manufacturing process. Soybeans taste sweeter when they are pressurized than boiled in a regular pot. Since the boiling point rises when pressurized, the time required for the beans to reach the same level of softness shortens. It is believed that less sugar flows out into the cooking liquid and more remains in the beans.

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This column, translated from The Asahi Shimbun's Gohan Lab column, will next appear on Sept. 9.