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

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You have hankering for vegetables in season, but hesitate, wondering whether you will be able to eat them all.

It's at times like this that recipes centered on a generous amount of a single vegetable or leftovers come in handy.

This column will introduce such recipes in three installments, along with tips on basic cooking procedures, such as cutting, boiling and more.

The first installment focuses on coleslaw made with only in-season spring cabbage. You will get to enjoy its succulent and sweet nature in an uncomplicated way and even on the following day. Stuff some in a bun with a boiled sausage and you get a special hotdog.

Cutting the cabbage into fine strips may seem daunting, but it will taste good anyway if you chomp. So, there may be an ideal but there is never a failure when it comes to cutting. The width that feels moist in the mouth is 3-4 millimeters, much wider than the 1-2 mm for the shredded cabbage that accompanies “tonkatsu” (breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet).

The key to developing cutting skills is not to worry about the speed, but to check and see how the ingredient is being cut.

The mayonnaise-based seasoning is spiced with vinegar, plus a dash of sugar for a rounded effect.


(Supervised by Akiko Watanabe in the cooking aspect and Midori Kasai in the cookery science aspect)

* Ingredients and cooking utensils (Serves four)

300 grams ( to of a head) cabbage, tsp salt, 3 Tbsp mayonnaise, 2 tsp vinegar, tsp sugar, bit of pepper, cloth, kitchen knife and cutting board, bowl, colander and long chopsticks for cooking

1. Before cutting cabbage, wet cloth and tightly squeeze out water. Spread cloth on counter and place cutting board on top. This way, the board will not slip and remain stable. Face the cutting board straight, turn the toe on the side you are holding the knife slightly out and draw back that foot (PHOTO A).

2. Remove white core of cabbage. Arrange layers of leaves by hand and stack to height of 3 to 4 centimeters. Cut broadly into widths of about 5 cm. Hold one stack and place sideways, cut off loose parts on ends, tuck in under stack. This way, you can start cutting from the straight end. Place blade 3 mm from end, form an impression of the width you wish to cut and start cutting (PHOTO B). If a thick core emerges, cut it off and put aside. When the cutting is done, cut core into fine strips and mix with rest.

3. Place cabbage strips in bowl, sprinkle salt broadly and mix. Leave for about 15 minutes until cabbage softens. Place in colander and let water drip by itself.

4. Mix mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and pepper in bowl to make dressing. Add cabbage, mix thoroughly (PHOTO C).

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Akiko Watanabe is a cooking expert specializing in Japanese cuisine.

Midori Kasai is a professor at Ochanomizu University and chairperson of the Japan Society of Cookery Science.


<With ham>

This is a recipe with ham that goes well with cabbage but seasoned without mayonnaise. The preparation of the cabbage is the same as the basic method. Cut 20 grams of carrot into fine 5-cm-long strips and finely slice 30 grams of onion along fiber. Mix each separately with a dash of salt, leave until they soften. Squeeze out water. Cut 2 slices ham into 4-cm-long strips. Mix 1 Tbsp vinegar, tsp sugar, 1/6 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp French mustard, bit of pepper in a bowl, then add 1 Tbsp oil. Add cut ingredients and mix.


Vegetables turn soft when sprinkled with salt. It is because water that remains after the vegetable is washed mixes with the salt to become highly concentrated saltwater, and the water inside the vegetable passes out through the cell membrane. The membrane of fresh vegetables is semipermeable and lets only water through. But the membrane gradually breaks, letting salt and seasoned liquid into the cells. The coleslaw will become fully flavored by “sprinkling salt first.”

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A reader asked a question about eggs, which were featured in previous installments.

Question: Can eggs be frozen?

Answer (By Seiji Nobuoka): From the standpoint of hygiene, it is not advisable to freeze raw eggs at home. Recipes highlighting the texture of frozen and thawed egg yolk that has lost water is available online. But the risk of salmonella and other food-poisoning bacteria entering through the cracked shell while the egg is being frozen and proliferating during the thawing process cannot be eliminated. The same goes for cases where the yolk and egg white are frozen separately. Professional-use frozen egg mixture is marketed but it is produced in an environment where, unlike private kitchens, the hygiene of ingredients and production process is controlled.

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Seiji Nobuoka is an adviser to the Japan Poultry Association.

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From The Asahi Shimbun’s Gohan Lab column