Ribbon salad リボンサラダ

japanese cake

This is an historic recipe with a story behind it.  Even though my wife had been cooking for her family since her early teens, she didn’t enjoy cooking and it showed. She herself used to say nobody would starve while she was at the stove but there were better ways to enjoy life than eating something she put on a plate. She was infamous for her gelatin based creative concoctions so much so that when she was asked what to bring to pot luck dinners, she was usually told napkins would be just find.  She claims she became a much better cook after we got married (whether my influence or not, I am pleased to say that she did).

This recipe was one of her favorites from way way back (early 1970’s?). She found it recently after going through a collection of old papers. She couldn’t remember where it came from but it was printed on an old newspaper with references to addresses in Ontario, Canada. While she was wildly enthusiastic about making this recipe for me, I remembered some of the dishes for which she achieved her previous dubious fame (I believe a type of tomato-y jello was involved) and was somewhat less enthusiastic. It was fairly complicated involving a number of steps and my wife claimed that when she first made this dish, it sorely tested her culinary skills but this time she seemed well within her comfort zone. Despite my initial hesitancy, I was quite please with how well it turned out.  Unlike other ribbon salads which use flavored and artificially colored gelatin and tend to be sweet, this one is savory and can definitely play a legitimate role in any meal. Here we just served it alone (picture above). Bottom layer looks dark but top and bottom layers are the same savory tomato flavor separated by a creamy cottage cheese based center layer. (below).

This was a weekend light lunch and I served it with my salmon salad and baguette and a wedge of tomato seasoned with salt and olive oil. 

The ribbon salad was a perfect accompaniment for this cold salad on a hot day (we were hitting 90F).

Here you can see both top and bottom layers are the same with a nice white smooth cottage cheese layer.


Red layer

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

3 1/2 cup tomato juice

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt1 tsp onion juice (we used grated onion).

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbs vinegar (we used rice vinegar).

White layer

1 envelope of unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

1 1/2 cups cottage cheese, mashed (We used small curd and pureed it with other ingredients in a blender).

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup finely diced celery

2 tbs finely chopped onion

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1 tsp lemon juice


To make red layer soak gelatin in 1/2 cup tomato juice 5 minutes. Combine remaining tomato juice with rest of ingredients and heat to boiling. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Pour half of mixture in 9 X 5 pan. Chill until set ( #1). Leave remaining half at room temperature. 

To make white layer. Soak gelatin in cold water 5 minutes then melt over hot water (we used a double boiler). Combine remaining ingredients puree in the blender. Add gelatin and chill until slightly thickened (#2). Pour over set tomato layer (#3). Chill until set (#4). Add remaining tomato mixture (#5) and chill until firm (#6). 

I first tasted the dish almost as soon as the layers had set. The Worcestershire flavor was rather assertive in the red layer. The white layer was creamy with a subtle onion and celery overtone. The next day, the flavors had a chance to meld. The red layer had calmed down quite a bit and tasted just fine. This is lots of work (mostly my wife’s) but it is a nice cool savory dish perfect for hot summer. We were glad we resurrected this “ancient” recipe. 

Comments on Facebook