Cook and serve spring cabbage in a donabe pot that goes from stove to table

JAPAN - (THE JAPAN NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) Preparing a meal for oneself often comes with many complaints such as, "Cooking [just for me] is annoying," and "I don't know if I can eat everything by myself." In this new series, cooking researchers share tips for making delicious meals just for you.

In the first instalment, Seiko Tanishima introduces cooking equipment that can help.

I have lived by myself for about 20 years since my sons left home. After my mother died five years ago, I moved to my current apartment. I am working to make it a place that suits the lifestyle of one person.

One benefit in just cooking for yourself is the freedom you have to make whatever you feel like.

  • SPRING CABBAGE IN THE STYLE OF SAUERKRAUT

  • INGREDIENTS

    1 whole cabbage
    50g bacon
    2 sausages
    1 tbsp unsalted butter
    100ml water
    5 tbsps vinegar
    Pinch of salt, pepper
    1¼ lemon
    Mustard, if desired

    METHOD

    1. Remove the core from the cabbage and roughly chop it into 3 to 4cm pieces. Chop up the bacon into small, bite-sized pieces.
    2. In a donabe pot, melt the butter and fry the bacon. Add as much of the cabbage as possible and mix it with the bacon. Pour 50 milliliters of water into the pot.
    3. With the lid on, braise the dish over a medium low heat. When the volume of the cabbage has decreased, add more cabbage, stirring it in. If all the cabbage is too much for the pot, add it in several batches.
    4. Add 50ml of water, a pinch of salt and pepper, 5 tbsps of vinegar and juice from ¼ lemon, and place the sausages on top. Simmer for about 10 minutes with the lid on.
    5. Season with a little more salt. Serve with mustard, if desired.

People who cook for family members can also change things a bit.

For example, you can serve food directly from pots or frying pans instead of putting it on dishes and plates, which reduces the number of dishes to be washed.

Donabe earthenware pots, frying pans and grill plates make great tableware.

Even a dish with few ingredients looks great on such cookware. With pots or pans, meals can be served while they still sizzle from being freshly taken off the stove.

I recommend pots and frying pans slightly larger than individual-sized plates because it is difficult to cook in small ones. Frying pans that are about 20 centimeters in diameter are nice. A pan whose handle can be removed also comes in handy as it can be put in the oven.

Donabe pots are excellent cooking utensils that can be used for simmered or steamed dishes, rice cooked with soup stock and various ingredients, and noodles. It is also possible to grill or fry ingredients in a type of donabe that can be heated with no water in it.

Something similar to roast beef can be made by browning a block of meat and then steaming it. As donabe preserve the heat, food can be kept hot for a relatively long time.

I frequently use a donabe pot that's about 20 centimeters in diameter in the shape of a shallow bowl for one or two people. It is the Iga-yaki brand, priced at about ¥3,000 (S$34). The pot makes my food look even better.

A donabe lid can be used as a dish for rice after cooking.

There are types of donabe pot that can be used on electric ranges, too. As one's arms weaken with age, in purchasing a donabe, it is better to choose one at a store that can be effortlessly handled. Donabe are great to use all year round.