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

* * *

A classic dish that is often whipped up for the staff at restaurants caps the string of Italian fare introduced in the series on popular dishes.

The refreshing dish is prepared with garlic (“aglio”), oil (“olio”) and some chili pepper (“pepperoncino”).

A key is to boil the spaghetti in hot water with 1 percent salinity. The flavor of the dish depends on this step.

Heat the oil slowly on low heat and when the savory aroma of garlic rises, raise the heat a little and add salt and parsley to the frying pan. When you hear the sizzle, add the spaghetti, combine the ingredients quickly and serve right away. Speed is crucial when making this dish.

Chef Kuniaki Arima, who supervised the cooking aspect of the recipe, says it is “a dish where you cannot cut corners all the more for its simplicity.” Following the procedure is important, but in the end “you should believe in yourself.” Try cooking it many times so that it becomes your prized recipe.

“Eating is one of the joys of life. You will feel happier if you can cook tasty dishes,” Arima said.


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

* Ingredients (Serves one)
100 grams spaghetti (those 1.6 mm in diameter work well), 4 to 5 garlic slices, 3 stalks Italian parsley, bit of chili pepper, 1 and 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

About 555 kcal and 3.1 grams salt per portion

1. Finely slice garlic against fiber. Chop Italian parsley. Tear chili pepper by hand (PHOTO A).

PHOTO A: Slice the garlic into the same thickness as much as possible. By tearing the chili pepper with the hands, the cut sections expand, and the pungency is accentuated. (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

2. Bring generous amount of water to a boil in pot. Add 1 percent of salt to boiling water. If 1.5 liters of water is being boiled, add 15 grams. Add spaghetti after salt has dissolved (PHOTO B). When all noodles are immersed, separate them so they do not stick together while being cooked.

3. About 5 minutes before spaghetti is cooked, add oil, garlic and chili pepper to frying pan and place on low heat. When garlic turns light brown, raise heat and wait for 3 seconds. Turn off heat, add a pinch of salt and Italian parsley (PHOTO C). Drain cooked spaghetti and add to sauce in frying pan with some hot water dripping. Mix all ingredients and the dish is done.


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

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


Spaghetti aglio e olio with field mustard (Serves one)

Spaghetti aglio e olio with field mustard (Photo by Masahiro Goda)

Boil 100 grams spaghetti. About 5 minutes before it is cooked, add 1 and 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, 4 to 5 garlic slices and a bit of chili pepper to a frying pan and start cooking on low heat. One minute before the spaghetti is cooked, add 1/2 bunch of young shoots of field mustard (“nanohana”) each cut into three equal parts to the hot water. Add a pinch of salt, spaghetti and field mustard in frying pan and mix. The dish will capture the feel of spring if you mix in boiled egg yolk that has been strained.


The Asahi Shimbun

The cut section of garlic turns sticky since the cells break and the main sugar component scorodose (oligosaccharide in fructose) emerges. When garlic is stir-fried, both the caramelization of the sugar and the aminocarbonyl reaction caused by the added action of amino acid occur and it is likely to burn. Whole garlics are less prone to burn since the sugar does not emerge.

* * *

From The Asahi Shimbun’s Gohan Lab column