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

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Miso can also play a part in Western-style dishes. To cap the series on miso, Kuniaki Arima, chef of Italian cuisine, introduces “chicken simmered in tomato sauce.”

The umami and sweetness of miso generated through the fermentation and aging process blend with the dish and give a depth that salt alone cannot provide.

Use any miso available at home.

“The difference in the miso comes out as the flavor of each family,” says Arima.

A key is to slowly grill the chicken from the skin side until it turns golden and aromatic. Before adding the tomato, the chicken is simmered in water and wine to concentrate the umami of chicken, onion and mushrooms. If wine is not available, it can be replaced by sake, beer or shochu distilled spirit.

The arranged version is creamy pasta with salmon. The lumberjack-style boscaiola sauce that contains mushrooms is prepared with fresh cream and miso. When the cream is boiled properly and reduced, it becomes less fatty and the sauce will acquire a nice edge.


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

* Ingredients (Serves two)

1 chicken thigh (300 grams), 100 grams onion, 100 grams maitake mushroom, 100 grams eryngii, 1/2 clove garlic, 300 grams canned tomato, 100 ml water, 100 ml white wine, 1 Tbsp miso, bit of sugar, salt and pepper, 1 tsp olive oil, chili pepper pod (about the size of the tip of the little finger)

About 450 kcal and 2.6 grams salt per portion.

1. Crush garlic, cut onion into 5 mm-thick slices. Cut eryngii and pull apart maitake into appropriate sizes. Cut chicken into large bite-size pieces and season with sugar, salt and pepper.

PHOTO A: The skin should be cooked thoroughly to generate fat and aroma. The flavor will transfer to the soup when water, wine and tomato are added for simmering. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

2. Pour olive oil in frying pan, add garlic and turn on heat. Cook on low heat until aroma rises. Cook chicken from skin side on low heat (PHOTO A). When it turns golden, turn and push to far end of frying pan. Turn up to medium heat and sautee onion, then mushrooms in the empty space (PHOTO B).

PHOTO B: The mushrooms are cooked in the fat of chicken. Accordingly, the amount of olive oil added before cooking the chicken can be kept small. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

3. Add wine and water and bring to a boil. Heat until liquid is reduced to 1/3. Add miso and dissolve. Add tomato and mix. Place lid with a little opening and simmer on low heat until liquid is reduced to about a half (PHOTO C). Add chili pepper as a final touch. The dish is done when the sauce thickens and acquires a glaze.

PHOTO C: Be careful of the heat level as the content is more likely to burn once the sauce thickens. Keep the sauce bubbling lightly instead of strongly. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)
Be careful of the heat level as the content is more likely to burn once the sauce thickens. Keep the sauce bubbling lightly instead of strongly. (Video by Masahiro Goda)

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

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


Creamy pasta with salmon (Serves two)

Creamy pasta with salmon (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

Finely slice 100 grams onion. Remove hard end from 100 grams shimeji mushroom and separate. Chop 1/4 of a salted salmon (“shio-zake”) fillet. Pour 1 Tbsp olive oil in frying pan and place on heat. Add 1/2 clove garlic, onion and shimeji and cook.

Add salmon, 200 ml fresh cream and 1 tsp miso and bring to a boil. Cook until sauce is reduced to 1/4. Cook 200 grams short pasta in boiling water with 1 percent salinity. When done, mix with sauce. If available, add some Italian parsley and mix.


The amino acids and sugar in miso react even in storage and generate brown pigments. Since the reaction progresses faster if the miso is stored at room temperature in the heat of summer, it is better to keep it in the fridge even before opening. After the miso is opened, the surface should be covered with plastic wrap to prevent exposure to air.

The Asahi Shimbun

43 select articles compiled into a book

“Chorikagaku-de Motto Oishiku Teiban-ryori 1”

The Gohan Lab articles have been compiled into a book.

It includes 43 recipes and arranged dishes such as fluffy shaomai made with grated pork and tofu as well as fair and crispy vinegared lotus root.

The book comes with a bonus that gives readers access to five videos of popular recipes including spaghetti carbonara.

The book in Japanese and titled “Chorikagaku-de Motto Oishiku Teiban-ryori 1” (Staple dishes made tastier with cooking science 1) is in A4 size and has 100 pages.

Priced at 980 yen ($8.6) including tax, it is available at bookstores and ASA (Asahi-Shimbun Service Anchor) delivery outlets nationwide.

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From The Asahi Shimbun’s Gohan Lab column