recipe

Bento filler: Classic Kinpira Gobo (burdock and carrot kinpira)

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Spicy-salty-sweet kinpira, crunchy vegetables that are quicky stir-fried and optionally simmered, are perfect for bento. So far I have given you carrot kinpira and forgotten vegetable kinpira, but Japanese food purists might have noticed that I haven’t posted a recipe for classic kinpira gobo (or goboh). There’s a simple reason for this: here in Switzerland, the only gobo or burdock root that I can get in the stores is an exorbitantly priced frozen version. But recently I was able to get my hands on some fresh gobo (no I didn’t smuggle it from Hawaii!) - so here, finally, is kinpira gobo. continue reading...

Bento fillers: Forgotten vegetable kinpira

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Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira is one of the most popular recipes here on Just Bento. And no wonder - it’s a snap to make, healthy, and spicy.

While kinpira is traditionally made with carrots and burdock (gobo) in Japan, you can use the kinpira method for any crunchy vegetable. What’s more, it’s a great way of using up parts of vegetables that you might normally throw away. Not only will your tastebuds and tummy be happy, your wallet will be too. continue reading...

Sesame flavored beef

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I don’t have a lot of red meat recipes here, especially not beef. The biggest reason for this is that beef is the most expensive cut of meat usually, and I’m all about making bentos that are economical. But I do use beef sometimes, and one of my favorite ways is to treat it as I do in this recipe - quickly stir-fried, salty-sweet and tender strips of beef flavored with sesame oil. continue reading...

Gomashio Cookies

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You may eat a healthy bento lunch, but what when you get hungry in-between meals? You could eat some fruit or something, but you may want something a bit more substantial yet easy to transport without succumbing to the lure of Krispy Kreme donuts or a bag of potato chips. These not-sweet cookies are one option.

These dense, shortbread like cookies are not sweet - they are indeed a bit salty, from the gomashio (sesame salt). They are very filling ‘in-between’ snacks, clocking in at around 80 calories each. They are sort of homemade, not-sweet versions of Calorie Mate Block (see Notes) - they’re just as filling with none of the artificial vitamins or sugar.

I’ve made them in three variations. One is made with white flour and butter, and is arguably the tastiest but least nutritious. The second is made with whole wheat flour, olive oil and sesame oil, and rivals the white flour one in taste - but is a bit crumbly. The third is a gluten-free, vegan version that uses chickpea (gram) flour, tahini and sesame oil. It is quite firm and tasty, and definitely the most nutritious, but may not be to everyone’s liking. continue reading...

Homemade furikake no. 6: Gomashio, sesame salt

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[Updated: Originally published back in January 2008, this is one of the most popular articles on Just Bento. I’ve updated it with a much more hands-free oven method for making gomashio.]

Gomashio (ごま塩), sesame salt, is the most basic furikake. This is the best way I know to make homemade gomashio, where each sesame seed is coated with its own fine salt mantle. continue reading...

Shrimp and tofu mini-burgers (tsukune) with red pepper sauce

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There are already several mini-burger or tsukune dumpling type of recipes here, but here’s another one. What can I say - mini-burgers are just perfect for bentos: they taste good when they are cold, can be made in quantity, and usually freeze very well.

This time it’s a shrimp and tofu version, adapted quite a bit from a recipe in a recent issue of Kyou no ryouri: Beginners (Today’s Cooking: Beginners) magazine. It’s best when made with fresh shrimp, but uncooked frozen shrimp is fine. You probably don’t want to be messing around with shrimp paste in the morning, so it can made it the night before (have some for dinner too - it’s great hot) or freeze a batch. The sweet-hot red pepper jam I’ve used as a sauce goes very well with it, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making the jam, use a sweet or hot bottled chili sauce. continue reading...

Earl Grey Tea Muffins

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One more muffin recipe in this unplanned muffin mini-marathon. These are a bit sweeter than the other muffins I’ve posted, so are more suitable as in-between-meal snacks perhaps, or even at home for teatime. They are still not overly sweet though, and are featherly light and fragrant. Flecked throughout with fine tea leaves, they sort of taste like an Earl Grey milk tea in muffin form. You can see the tea when you split one open.

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Since each mini-muffin is only 60 calories (120 for regular sized ones), consider carrying these along instead of succumbing to a donut or pastry. continue reading...

Two Corn Muffins: Pumpkin Yogurt and Classic Buttermilk

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I am definitely in a muffin phase at the moment, so I hope you don’t mind more muffin recipes! Muffins are the easiest thing to bake, and are great to tote along for in-between meal snacks as well as lunch. And having a good stash of muffins in the freezer, ready to go at a moment’s notice on the busiest day, makes you feel a bit smug about how organized you are.

I love corn muffins, with the little crunchy grains. Here are two types of corn muffins, that are just lightly sweet and therefore perfect to accompany a soup, a spicy chili, and so on. One is a pumpkin or winter squash and yogurt muffin, and the other is a classic buttermilk muffin, the kind they used to serve in coffee shops in New York - do they still?

They can be made into mini-size or regular size; the mini muffins are about 75 calories each, and the regular size about 150 calories each.

These two recipes use eggs and dairy products so are not vegan. They do use vegetable oil rather than butter, to keep them on the healthy and light side. continue reading...