Basics: tomato sauce

tomato sauce

I've been posting some of the basic building blocks of Japanese cooking, and I thought I would add some other basics too. While I like to experiment with a new recipes sometimes, for everyday cooking this isn't too practical. So I rely on a few basic recipes that I have more or less memorized, and vary them to produce different results.

This tomato sauce is one of them. It's very easy, and can be frozen if you make it in bulk. It's best made with fresh tomato pulp from really ripe tomatoes in the summer, but can be made with half tomato pulp and half canned crushed tomatoes, or just canned tomatoes. I don't add any spices or herbs to the basic sauce - these can always be added later.

To skin tomatoes, dunk them for 30 seconds in a pot of boiling water. To de-seed them, cut in half and squeeze each half so the seeds pop out. You can be tidy and chop up the tomato pulp with a knife or in the food processor, or - just smoosh them up with your hands.

Basic tomato sauce

  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes, or about 4 cups of peeled, seeded tomato pulp, or a mix of half fresh tomatoes and half canned
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Salt to taste

Sauté the onion in the olive oil until golden. Add the garlic and sauté a bit more. Add the tomato and the bay leaf. Let simmer for about 30 minutes. You can add other flavorings and herbs such as thyme, oregano, saffron etc. but I prefer to keep it fairly plain and add herbs later as needed. This produces a fairly thick tomato sauce that is great over plain pasta or as a pizza topping. It can also form the basis for many other sauces.

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Basics: tomato sauce

i like tomato sauce

boris | 23 November, 2004 - 00:42

total beginner...

you have a wonderful site here, so much to learn…
i was just wondering though.. what does it mean to “Sauté” ?

anon. | 16 July, 2007 - 03:30

sauteing

To sauté means to heat up a frying pan or a ‘stir-fry pan’, add a bit of oil or butter, add the ingredients and stir around with a spatula or something until the ingredients are cooked to the stage specified - in this case until the onion is a light brown. Hope that helps!

maki | 16 July, 2007 - 20:57

Re: Basics: tomato sauce

Great site Makiko. I am just sticking my toe into Asian cooking, as a recently converted vegan I have to learn how to cook with a different frame of mind.

I have a question about tomato sauce in general.Why peel and seed the tomatoes? I understand that the skins can be unattractive and a bit of a nuisance in mouth feel when using big pieces of tomato, but I have found if the tomatoes are diced finely and cooked down (as in sauce) the skins aren't really an issue.

I've never understood seeding, I guess I'm a fiber and rustic kind of cook. Anyway, my questions are more curious thoughts about techniques than a should/shouldn't do suggestion.

Thanks for your blog!

Julie | 9 October, 2011 - 22:49

Re: Basics: tomato sauce

Removing the skins makes the sauce a whole lot smoother. I once made a big batch of tomato sauce for canning without taking the skins off, and later found myself sieving out the little nasty rolled up bits of skin! It didn't help that these tomatoes had very tough skins either. It's all a matter of personal preference of course though!

maki | 10 October, 2011 - 18:17

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