OISHII / Melding the bittersweet flavors of spring

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Sweet and savory potatoes and beef with rape blossoms

By Kohei Aratani / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer Simmered potatoes and beef

In this column, chefs and cooking experts share recipes that are easy to prepare at home.

Cooking expert Hatsue Shigenobu proposes easy-to-make home-cooked meals. In this installment, she introduces a recipe for new potatoes and beef simmered in a sweet and savory sauce. The recipe uses various techniques to enhance the seasonal ingredients, such as stir-frying them before simmering to add a roasted aroma and reducing the sauce so the ingredients can soak up the flavors.

“New potatoes have a chewy texture, so they are good for simmering,” Shigenobu said. Since the bittersweet taste of potato skins is one of the attractions of the dish, the potatoes are cooked without peeling them. However, remove any potato eyes and do not use potatoes with skins that have turned green.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    New potatoes mixed with mayonnaise and spicy cod roe

Before stir-frying and simmering new potatoes, heat them in a microwave in advance to shorten the cooking time compared to parboiling them. To heat the potatoes evenly, place them in a circle on a heat-proof plate, leaving the center empty.

“Then heat the potatoes to a state of softness wherein a toothpick can pierce them,” Shigenobu said.

Stir-fry and simmer the ingredients in a pan. First, stir-fry the potatoes, then the beef. Stir-fry the potatoes until golden brown not only to add a roasted flavor, but also to prevent them from becoming mushy while cooking. Add unpeeled ginger slices for aroma, then add the beef to the pan.

“Please use beef that contains some fat, either in unevenly sliced pieces or thinly sliced,” Shigenobu said.

When the meat browns, simmer with soy sauce, sugar, water and cooking sake, letting the potatoes and beef soak up the mixture. Continue to reduce the sauce until the meat becomes glossy. Using a pan helps the liquid evaporate faster than using a pot.

“You can really give flavor to the ingredients in a shorter amount of time,” Shigenobu said.

Add rape blossoms when the liquid is reduced enough to see the bottom of the pan. Prepare in advance by boiling the vegetables lightly in hot water, skimming off the residue.

The bittersweet taste of potato skins goes well with the sweetness and softness of the meat accentuated with the flavor of ginger. The bittersweet rape blossoms also add to the spring feel.

“It is also good to make the dish during the day and then eat it at dinner to give the potatoes and beef more time to absorb flavor,” Shigenobu said.

Recipe for potatoes and beef with rape blossoms

Ingredients (serves 2): 

5 or 6 new potatoes (300 grams)

150 grams sliced beef

1 knob ginger

½ bunch rape blossoms (50 grams)

2 tbsp cooking sake

1½ tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sugar

¼ tsp salt

Cooking oil


1. Wash new potatoes well without peeling skins. Place on heat-proof plate in circle and heat in microwave at 600 watts for 2 minutes. Turn potatoes over and heat again for 1 minute. Cut potatoes in half.

2. Heat 1 tsp cooking oil in pan and stir-fry potatoes over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes until slightly golden brown. Add beef and thin slices of unpeeled ginger to pan and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. When meat browns, add 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of sake, 1½ tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bring to boil.

3. When liquid comes to boil, skim off residue. Simmer while stirring for 4-5 minutes until liquid is reduced and meat becomes glossy.

4. Boil 2 cups of water and ¼teaspoon of salt in pot and add rape blossoms stalk first. Boil for about 1 minute, remove from pot and cool them off in water. Remove from water, cut in half and add to pan with beef and potatoes. Warm up pan, then turn off heat, then serve.

With mayonnaise, cod roe

Shigenobu also introduced a recipe for new potatoes mixed with mayonnaise and spicy cod roe.

Heat 300 grams of unpeeled new potatoes in a microwave for 4 minutes and halve them. Cut three asparagus stalks diagonally into 1-centimeter widths and boil them. Thinly slice ¼of an onion.

Cut two slices of a lemon and mix with 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise and 30 grams of spicy cod roe in the sac that is cut into 5-millimeter widths. Add potatoes and asparagus and lightly mix all the ingredients.

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