japanese

Bento no. 15: Bacon wrapped tofu bento

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 495 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 15 minutes in the morning, 20+ minutes make-ahead

Type: Japanese, mostly make-ahead

This bento uses a lot of staples and make-ahead items. This is really the key to assembling a varied bento lunch box without having to wake up an hour early in the morning to do so! The only thing that is made from scratch in the morning is the bacon wrapped tofu, and even that can be made the night before if needed (though it’s best if you make it in the morning.) Johbisai or staples are really great: I got six total bentos out of one batch of the pepper and onion confit, and I’ll get at least 2 or 4 bentos out of the 3 remaining tea eggs.

The star of the bento though is the bacon wrapped tofu. It’s delicious hot or cold. For a bento, the salty-sweet variation is particularly good. Be sure to use an extra-firm tofu. continue reading...

Bento no. 14: Vegan bento with baked miso-tahini-nut carrots

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Bento contents:

  • Baked carrot slices with miso-nut topping (230cal)
  • 3/4 cups white rice (130cal)
  • 1 Tbs. edamame (20cal)
  • Broccoli with wasabi sauce (10cal)
  • 1/2 cup Pepper and onion confit (60cal)

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

Time needed: 30-40 minutes total (20-30 the night before or earlier, 10 in the morning)

Type: Japanese, vegan, mostly make-ahead continue reading...

Bento no. 13: Mixed-noodle pasta with pepper confit and wiener flowers

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Bento contents:

  • Mixed capellini (angel hair) and shirataki noodles, about 1 cup cappellini cooked + 1/2 cup shirataki (220 calories)
  • Sweet pepper and onion confit, about 1 cup (120 calories)
  • 1 1/2 wiener sausages (200 calories)
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste (25 calories)
  • Broccoli florets (negligible)

Total calories (approx.): 565 calories (how calories are calculated)

Type: Japanese, novelty continue reading...

Bento decoration: Gerbera-like wiener flowers

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(See the Bento Decoration master page for my general thinking on decorations.)

Japanese people love wiener sausages. They appear quite often in home cooking recipes. Wieners are the Play Doh of the bento making world since they are colorful and easy to manipulate.

I don’t like to use wieners their relatives very often, though living in a Germanic area of Europe we can get pretty good ones that aren’t dyed a bright pink and actually contain real meat. But once in a while they do appear in my bentos. continue reading...

Bento no. 12: 5 minute salmon bento

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Bento contents:

  • 1 small piece of shiozake or salted salmon (about 150 cal)
  • 1 cup brown rice (220 cal)
  • A few bibb lettuce leaves (3 cal)
  • Konnyaku no tosani, salty-sweet konnyaku with bonito flakes (about 30 cal)
  • Homemade ‘instant’ miso soup ball (see how-to) (about 30 cal)

Total calories (approx): 435 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 5 to 10 minutes

Type: Japanese continue reading...

Make your own instant miso soup balls

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In some respects I’m a typical Japanese person, since to me there’s nothing as soul-satisfying as a hot bowl of miso soup. At home we have miso soup at least a couple of times a week (see my week of miso soup series for some ideas.) Miso soup with a bento lunch is great too, especially at this time of year when you feel a bit chilly inside even if the roo is heated.

There are many kinds of convenient instant miso soup packs out there. I like to make my own ‘instant’ miso soup balls though. They are dead easy to make. All you need to do is combine about 1 to 2 teaspoonsful (for an average size miso soup bowl) with whatever ingredients you have on hand. All you need is a source of boiling water at lunchtime, which most offices have. Put the miso ball and ingredients in the bowl (or you can use a mug), add hot water, and let it sit for a few minutes while the ingredients expand and flavors amalgamate. This technique is often recommended in Japanese bento books with a healthy or macrobiotic focus, since instant miso soup mixes are often loaded with preservatives and MSG and so on. continue reading...

Bento no. 11: Gyuudon (beef bowl) bento with konnyaku

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Bento contents:

  • Gyuudon with konnyaku: Beef, onions and konnyaku on simmered in a sweet-savory sauce (220cal)
  • on 1 cup brown rice (220 cal)
  • Blanched greens (10 cal)
  • Pickled radish (5 cal)

Total calories (approx): 455 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 25 minutes total (15 the night before, 10 in the morning)

Type: Japanese

The top trick used here is setting aside some ingredients for a dinner dish to make the main part of this bento at the same time. continue reading...

Homemade furikake no. 3: Noritama

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Noritama is one of the most popular flavors of furikake available commercially. Nori means the seaweed that’s used as a sushi roll or onigiri wrapper, and tama is short for tamago, or egg. The base, which gives the most flavor to the furikake, is bonito flakes or katsuobushi.

Surprisingly perhaps, noritama is one of the more fiddly furikake to make at home, though it’s by no means difficult. But I like to make it occasionally anyway becase I find commercial noritama to be a bit too salty. This version is lower on salt, so you can pile it on your rice if you want to. Naturally it’s free of any preservatives, MSG, or what have you. It’s also a lot cheaper than the commercial versions, even if you have to pay premium prices for the bonito flakes and nori as I do. continue reading...