Warm up winter with rich white sauce dishes

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tomato gratin with oysters and bacon, foreground, and bread gratin with shimeji mushrooms and chopped boiled egg

As it grows colder, you may find yourself looking to eat rich meals, such as gratin and stew using white sauce. So how about making your own white sauce? Cooking specialist Kyoko Salbot stresses its versatility and recommends making more than a single serving.

“Please enjoy its creamy texture and gentle sweetness,” said Salbot.

She has shared how to make it, along with some recipes using the basic sauce. To make a glossy, milky white sauce, it is important to cook it carefully and slowly over low heat.

Basic white sauce


500 ml milk

50 grams unsalted butter

50 grams cake flour

1 bay leaf

⅓ tsp salt


1. Chop the butter into 5-millimeter cubes and melt it in a pan over low heat. When the butter has melted, add the sieved flour. Remove from heat and mix with a rubber spatula until it becomes smooth, breaking up any lumps. Removing lumps when mixing makes the finished sauce smooth.

2. Place the pan over low heat again and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula while the mixture simmers. Fully heating the flour makes the finished sauce light and smooth.

3. Heat the milk to lukewarm in a microwave. Add ⅓ of the milk along with the bay leaf to the pan, and mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula. When the mixture thickens, add the rest of the milk in two parts, stirring similarly each time. Turn off the heat, add salt, and whisk until it becomes smooth.

Adding something extra will make a satisfying dish. First, Salbot has shared an idea to make a tomato gratin with oysters and bacon. The refreshing yet rich sauce is a perfect match for oysters, and the baked orange color of the sauce can help liven up the dining table.

Tomato gratin with oysters, bacon

Ingredients (serves 2):

8 oysters for cooking

2 slices of bacon


2 florets broccoli

220 grams white sauce

18 grams concentrated tomato paste

Shredded cheese as needed

1 tsp salad oil


1. Mix the white sauce and tomato paste in a bowl.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Pinch to remove the inner portion of the bread to make a depression to prevent the sauce from spreading and spilling out over the crust.

2. Rinse the oysters under running water and drain. Cut the bacon into small pieces, the onion into thin slices, and each broccoli floret into four equally sized pieces.

3. Heat the salad oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the oysters and broccoli for about 2 minutes. When they brown, turn them over and continue cooking for about 1 minute, then add the bacon and onion. When the onion becomes soft, turn off the heat, add the white sauce mixture and mix. It is important to fully cook the ingredients at this stage.

4. Place the ingredients in a heatproof container, sprinkle with cheese, and bake in a preheated oven at 220 C for about 10 minutes.

Salbot has also shared a recipe for a filling bread gratin with shimeji mushrooms and boiled egg.

Bread gratin with mushrooms, egg

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 slices of bread, about 2 cm thick

½ pack shimeji mushrooms

⅓ minced garlic clove

1 hard-boiled egg

1 small green pepper

55 grams white sauce

A pinch of curry powder

Shredded cheese as needed

A pinch of salt


1. Pinch to remove about one centimeter or more inside the bread to make a shallow, square depression. Remove the root ends of the mushrooms and cut them into thirds of equal length. Cut the green pepper in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut crosswise into pieces 5 millimeters wide. Cut the boiled egg lengthwise into equal quarters, then turn each on its side and chop into pieces 5 millimeters wide.

2. Put the shimeji mushrooms, green pepper, and garlic in a heatproof bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and heat it in a microwave at 600 watts for 40 seconds. Add a pinch of salt, the boiled egg, and curry powder.

3. Mix with the pinched out bread pieces and white sauce. Spread the mixture in the depression of the bread slices, sprinkle with cheese, and bake in a toaster oven for 5 to 6 minutes.

The sauce lasts for three or four days in the refrigerator, and for about a month in the freezer. It can be used in various ways in other dishes, too, such as stews and pastas.

“When you are busy, it is quite useful to keep a stock of basic white sauce,” Salbot said.