Macaroni Gratin is a casserole dish with macaroni and creamy white sauce that is a popular western style dish in Japan. Piping hot Macaroni Gratin is a perfect food for warming up during a cold winter.
Gratin originated from French macaroni au gratin, but today it is eaten widely at restaurants and home in Japan. The dish has been “improved” to Japanese people’s taste over the years, and it may not be so French any longer. It is often found on the menu at old fashioned cafes that serve light food. Just like Spaghetti Neapolitan, this gratin is also a staple western style Japanese dish at those cafe restaurants. Frozen gratin is also a very popular and convenient choice in Japan. Only thing you need to do is pop it in the oven, and done.
While making Macaroni Gratin is not as easy as having the frozen one, still it is quite simple to make it at home. Baking gratin in individual dishes is the Japanese style since Japanese ovens are often pretty small. You could even bake it in a toaster oven. However, you can make it in a big dish, more of an American casserole style, if you like. The cheese they use in Japan is usually a processed melting cheese for cooking rather than natural cheese. It tastes very mild, and the closest substitute may be mozzarella cheese. We used chicken in the recipe, but you can also use shrimp. Add more vegetables if you wish.
It doesn’t contain seaweed or rice, but Macaroni Gratin is still a Japanese food Japanese people normally eat, and you should definitely give it a try!
- 5 oz (150g) macaroni
- 1/2 lb (225g) chicken thighs
- 1 brown onion
- 1 tsp oil
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 4 Tbsp flour
- 2 1/2 cup (600ml) milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- white pepper
- mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Cook macaroni in boiling water with salt according to the package.
- Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, and slice onion thinly.
- Heat oil in a frying pan at medium heat, and cook chicken until brown. Add onion and a little bit of salt and pepper. Cook further until the onion softens. Set aside.
- In a different pot, melt butter at medium heat, add flour, and cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce bubbles. Add milk and whisk well so there are no lumps. When the sauce gets thicken, season with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper.
- Set 1/3 of the sauce aside. Add chicken and drained macaroni into the 2/3 of the sauce and mix. Put it in a baking dish, and pour the remaining 1/3 of the sauce over the macaroni. Cover with mozzarella cheese, and bake in the oven on the upper rack for 13-15 minutes.