japanese

Experimenting with frozen tuna salad, plus a tuna sushi rice sandwich

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Few things are as easy to make or as tasty for lunch than a simple tuna salad sandwich. It’s one of my favorite things to make when I’m too busy or occupied for more involved cooking. But porting around tuna salad when the weather is warm can be a bit of a problem.

I’ve been experimenting with freezing tuna salad in different ways, or rather stages of development as it were, as well as different tuna salad mixes. continue reading...

Bento no. 38: Onigiri bento box in action - Okowa sticky rice onigiri

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 460 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 10-15 minutes in the morning

Type: Japanese, omnivore (chicken, egg) continue reading...

Bento no. 37: Onigiri bento box in action - salmon onigiri and vegetables

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Bento contents:

  • 2 onigiri with salted salmon filling, each onigiri with about 1/2 cup (1 cup = 220ml) white rice (300 cal)
  • 1/2 cup spicy miso marinated asparagus, 40 cal
  • 3/4 cup stir-fried red pepper, onion and zucchini with fried tofu (atsuage), 100 calories
  • A couple of slices of nori seaweed to wrap the onigiri
  • A couple of cherry tomatoes, mainly for color

Total calories (approx): 450 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 15-20 minutes in the morning

Type: Japanese, omnivore (salmon, miso, fried tofu) continue reading...

Bento filler: French green beans with carrot and ginger

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Fresh green beans are available year round, but their real season in the northern hemisphere is the summer to early fall. I count crispy green beans among one of my favorite vegetables, so I enthusiastically eat as much as possible.

There are several kinds of green beans - large and fat, flat and broad, and so on. These are skinny little haricots verts or French beans. They can be rather expensive, so I like to cook them as minimally as possible. Here they are paired with julienned fresh ginger and carrot, stir fried then steam-cooked in a frying pan. The ginger adds some heat and the carrots add sweetness. They are cooked in less than 5 minutes, though allow some extra time to cut the ginger and carrot. You can use fatter green beans if you can’t get haricot verts - allow for a couple more minutes of cooking time.

This is great hot or cold, so it’s a very good bento vegetable dish. It will hold in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, so if you buy a big bag of green beans at the market it’s worthwhile to make a batch of this. continue reading...

Bento filler: Spicy miso marinated green asparagus

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We’re nearing the end of the green asparagus season around here, so I’m trying to eat as much of it as possible. This miso marinated asparagus dish may look very spicy, but it’s only mildly so - it just looks rather hot because I used a red miso. The miso marinade does not overwhelm the asparagus flavor, but just enhances it. It is great in a bento since it’s salty, a little sweet and spicy all at once. continue reading...

Bento no. 36: Spring vegetable bento with jumping fish

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Bento contents:

  • 1 cup (1 cup = 220ml) bamboo shoot rice made with sprouted brown rice, 200 cal
  • 1 1/2 cups asparagus, bamboo shoot and snow pea stir-fry, 70 cal
  • 1 wiener cut into fish, 150 cal

Total calories (approx): 420 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 10 minutes in the morning

Type: Japanese, omnivore (wieners!) continue reading...

All natural vegetable based green, pink and orange rice

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Previously, I showed you how to make orange colored carrot rice. The make-in-a-few minutes microwave method was especially popular. So, here’s how to make pink (or purple) and green colored rice just as easily. The best thing about them is that they are colored just with vegetables - no hard to pronounce ingredients in sight.

I’ve used white rice for color clarity, but you could use regular or sprouted brown rice instead. I used leftover rice from the night before; you could also use defrosted frozen rice. continue reading...

Noriben, a true Japanese classic

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There are some dishes that are so basic to make that they barely ever get mentioned in cookbooks. Noriben (the word comes from nori and bento mashed together) is one of them. It’s a really basic bento, consisting of just 3 or 4 ingredients: rice, nori seaweed, soy sauce, and often dried bonito flakes. It’s tasty and inexpensive. It was standby for my mother when there was nothing else in the house except for a few pantry staples, and she had to make bento for two of the kids plus my father.

Whether or not you’d like noriben or not depends on whether you like the sea-taste of nori and soy sauce. It’s one of those things that Japanese people tend to think that only a Japanese person could really love. It makes most Japanese people feel very nostalgic.

For the sake of nutritional balance you might want to have other, not too salty things in your bento box with noriben, such as steamed vegetables, chicken, fried tofu, or a piece of grilled fish. continue reading...