vegan

Bento filler: Blanched spinach with soy sauce or sesame sauce

spinach2.jpg

You may be used to eating spinach leaves in salads, or sautéed. In Japan spinach is rarely eaten raw. The most common way to eat spinach is to blanch it briefly. You may lose some nutrients when you do this, but it’s more than made up for I think by the fact that you can eat a whole lot more spinach than in a salad or so.

In the U.S. and Europe, it’s probably easier these days to buy ready-washed bags of the leaves only. This is a bit of a shame really, because spinach stalks and roots have a different texture which adds interest. In any case, the instructions here assume that you are dealing with the leaves only. continue reading...

Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

instantsoup-3.jpg

Previously I showed you how to make instant miso soup balls to which you just add boiling water to make a hot cup or bowl of soup. But even I don’t want miso soup all the time. Instant soup mixes are an option, but they are usually rather salty, and don’t contain a lot in terms of nutrients. So I set about experimenting with making my own instant soup concentrate. After some trial and error, here’s a formula for a Mediterranean tasting vegetable soup concentrate that works pretty well. It does take some mostly unattended time to cook down, so it’s a good project to do over the weekend to stock up for upcoming bento lunches. continue reading...

Bento no. 22: Vegan bento with lotus root mini-cakes

bento_22_450.jpg

Bento contents:

  • Savory lotus root mini-cakes (approx. 150 cal)
  • Pan-roasted red pepper and leek with peanut sauce (approx: 200 cal)
  • Sweet chili jam (30 cal)
  • Cucumber wedges (5 cal)
  • Naval orange wedge (30 cal)

Total calories (approx): 415 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 20-30 minutes total

Type: Asian-fusion, vegan, gluten-free continue reading...

Poached frozen tofu and fried frozen tofu cutlets

kouridofu_fried1.jpg

This is a very juicy and tasty way of cooking frozen tofu - and it’s not Japanese, for a change. A great vegan protein dish! continue reading...

Bento no. 16: A minimalist vegan bento for a tender tummy

bento_16a_450.jpg

(click on image for a bigger view)

Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 400 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 10 minutes in the morning, a bit of this and that previously

Type: Japanese, vegan, gluten-free continue reading...

Stewed hijiki seaweed with carrots and fried tofu

hijiki_nitsuke_450.jpg

This is a very classic Japanese staple dish. More often than not, I have some variation of it in my refrigerator. The base is hijiki seaweed, which is soaked and reconstituted then cooked in dashi with various other ingredients that give it flavor. It’s great to add to a bento box.

This version has carrots and fried tofu in it. Cutting them into fancy shapes is totally optional, but it does make your bentos a bit more fun.

I’ve used me-hijiki for this but you can use the regular long branch hijiki too. continue reading...

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

bento_14_450.jpg

(click on image for a bigger view)

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...

Sweet pepper and onion confit

pepper_onion_confit.jpg

This colorful, healthy yet tasty all-vegetable mixture is a great refrigerator staple for using in your bentos, and is very adaptable. Depending on the flavors you can add later, it can taste Italian, Japanese, Chinese, or whatever suits your needs.

It’s a mixture of thinly siiced onions, sweet peppers and a little garlic, sautéed over a fairly low heat until it’s quite limp. It’s only seasoned with salt, so that it’s fairly neutral. You can then turn it more Mediterranean by adding some basil and oregano for example, or Japanese by adding soy sauce, or add some oyster sauce. continue reading...