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New Onion and Spring Cabbage Salad

After a teasing taste of warmer weather in March, the seemingly never-ending winter is finally gone and spring is well and truly upon us. April means sakura season, and as the craze sweeps across the nation, it turns everything in its path pink and sakura flavoured or scented.

Although welcomed with less fanfare, April also brings with it a bounty of fresh new vegetables. Vegetables such as shin-tamanegi (new onions), shin-jaga (new potatoes) and haru-kyabetsu (spring cabbage) are milder and tenderer versions of their year-round equivalents and are best prepared using simple recipes that bring out their delicate flavours. Like all seasonal things in Japan though, they are only available for a brief period of time so enjoy them while you can.

This month’s recipe is a super simple cabbage salad with marinated onions that is surprisingly moreish. For those of you who don’t like raw cabbage or don’t see it as a valid substitute for lettuce in salads, this might just change your mind. The tender, sweet leaves of the haru-kyabetsu pair well with the light, tangy shin-tamanegi dressing and has a slightly nostalgic, izakaya taste to it.

Prep and cooking time: Under 10 minutes

Serves 2



½ shin-tamanegi

½ teaspoon salt

A dash of pepper

1 Tbsp. vinegar (I used rice vinegar but any white vinegar will do)

1 Tbsp. olive oil

A dash of sesame oil

¼ haru-kyabetsu



  1. Trim the ends of the onion, remove the skin and slice finely lengthwise.
  2. Place the onion slices in a large bowl and add the salt. Mix with fingers until soft. The salt should have dissolved and the mixture should be sticky.
  3. Add the vinegar and mix. Add the olive oil and sesame oil and mix again. Add the pepper.
  4. Rinse the cabbage, remove the hard core and tear or cut into large pieces. Mix gently with the onion dressing. If possible, refrigerate (or just leave to marinate) for at least 30 minutes.


Helen Yuan



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