Total calories (approx): 400 (how calories are calculated) 
Time needed: 15-20 minutes in the morning, 5 the night before
Type: Japanese, sushi
Chirashizushi is just a bed of sushi rice with toppings of your choice. Here I have used peeled frozen shrimp that is steam-cooked with a little salt and sake in a dry pan, half of a chikuwa (a fish paste produce that looks like a bamboo branch), plus cucumber, edamame and carrots. If you cut the carrots in decorative shapes, allow a little more time. It will be pretty anyway with the colorful toppings. Since the protein components of this bento are quite low fat and low calorie, the whole bento is under 400 calories. This bento was inspired by one in Yaseru Obento Recipes .
Here’s the guy version of the same bento - it has more rice (about 1 1/2 cups) and more topping, but is otherwise the same. It’s around 600 calories.
Add about 2 tsp. of sushi vinegar per cup of hot rice and mix well. Put in bento box and leave to cool. (The rice should be hot so the vinegar seasoning can penetrate it well.)
Boil some water in an electric kettle, or heat up a cup of premade dashi stock. (I ran out of dashi stock so I just used some dashi granules.)
Cut the carrot into thin slices, then cut out some decorative shapes if you want. Or just chop it up fairly roughly. Put in the dashi and cook for about 5 minutes.
In the meantime, cut up the cucumber (de-seed if necessary) an sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp. instant tsukemono mix, or a little sea salt. (You can find instant tsukemono powder at a well-stocked Japanese grocery store, or try this homemade no-additive recipe . Plain salt will be ok too.)
Peel the frozen edamame (yes you can peel them while still frozen). Cut up the chikuwa. Add both to the pot where the carrots are cooking.
Put the shrimp in a small frying pan. Sprinkle with a little salt, and about 2 Tbs. of sake (you can just use plain water, or leftover white wine). Put on a lid and allow to steam-cook for about 5 minutes.
Drain the cooking vegetables, and squeeze out the cucumber. Arrange everything attractively on the bed of sushi rice. Allow to cool before putting the lid on.
The only thing you have to do is to wash the rice and set the timer the night before. If you use frozen rice, be sure to heat it up so that the sushi vinegar will penetrate better.
Sushi rice has greater keeping qualities than unseasoned rice because of the vinegar and salt in the seasonings. But raw fish doesn’t keep well, especially at room temperature. So, just use cooked ingredients or vegetables. Chirashizushi is a quick and easy way to assemble a sushi meal without going to the trouble of making rolls and such. Plus, since the rice is not compressed, you pack less of it, saving you some calories!
This is the 20th bento presented on Just Bento since the site started in late October! It takes me some time to write up each bento, since I try to always include recipes, steps and a timeline, so I can’t post every bento I actually make. I hope you’ve enjoyed them so far in any case! If you are new to the site, take a look at all the bentos here so far .