recipe

Okowa: Sticky rice with all kinds of good things

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Okowa (おこわ)is the name given to a type of rice dish in which sticky glutinous rice is mixed with all kinds of vegetables or meat and steamed. It’s related to Chinese sticky rice, which you might have had as part of a dim sum meal. If the rice mix is steamed in small packets, wrapped in a bamboo leaf, it’s called chimaki. You can mix any number of things in with the rice to make it a complete meal in itself. continue reading...

Bento box of the week: Fit & Fresh Breakfast Chiller

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This week’s bento, or rather food-on-the-go, box is from the popular Fit & Fresh™ line from Medport. Fit & Fresh™ products are plastic containers with a cooling element included in some way. This makes them interesting for use with food that needs to be kept chilled, especially in the warmer months. continue reading...

Japanese dry curry with soybeans or tempeh

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Dry curry is a uniquely Japanese dish, much like the stew-type of Japanese curry. Dry curry is really well suited to bentos. The spicy curry aroma is appetising yet not overwhelming, and the combination of salty, spicy and sweet flavors really gets me going.

The recipe for a more traditional ground meat based dry curry has already been posted on Just Hungry. This is a vegan version that uses cooked soybeans or crumbled tempeh. It’s so rich in flavor that even non-vegetarians won’t miss the meat. It’s also very easy to make, though a food processor helps for chopping up all the vegetables.

Both the meat based and this soybean based dry curry mixes freeze very well, making them perfect freezer staples. continue reading...

Roasted carrot spread

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I do love carrots. They are full of nutrients and fiber, inexpensive, available year around, and durable. And their bright orange color (or other colors, if you delve into the exotic varieties) add instant cheer to any dish or bento box. So when I saw that my favorite vegan author Yumiko Kano was coming out with a new book of just carrot recipes, I reserved it in advance without a second thought.

This is a recipe adapted from that book. It’s a soft, light carrot spread or paste that is sweet, salty and a bit spicy. It has tahini (sesame seed paste) in it, which adds richness as well as protein. The spiciness comes from cumin and red chili pepper powder, and the sweetness comes from the carrot itself, which is roasted to intensify the flavor, and a tad of raw cane sugar. It is great as a spread on crackers or rice cakes or toast, or as a dip. The soft texture means it can’t quite substitute for peanut butter in a pb and j sandwich, but it’s fantastic in a wrap sandwich. It is of course totally gluten-free and nut-free too, so if your child’s school has a “no-nut” policy, which seems to be increasingly common these days, this is great. continue reading...

Individual portion frozen shepherd's pies (or any kind of casserole dish)

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This is more of a tip than a recipe, but I’ve put it here because it’s a handy way of building up your bento freezer stash. When I make something that is baked in a casserole for dinner such as shepherd’s pie, I try to make a few individual portions in cupcake liners. continue reading...

Tuna tofu miso mini burgers

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I do like mini-burgers for bentos - they’re easy to make, easy to eat, and cute. This time it’s a tuna and tofu burger flavored with miso. Canned tuna is a versatile and handy staple to have around. I always seem to have at least a couple around - you may too. And it’s cheap, so if you live in the U.S. and are feeling a bit poor today after filing your taxes, these will help a bit in stretching your food budget. It’s better if you make the burgers with oil canned tuna, but water canned will do. They’re quick to mix up in a plastic bag, and cook up in a few minutes. continue reading...

Stovetop leftover vegetable frittata

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Frittata, a thick Italian omelette, is an egg dish that’s great hot or cold. It’s perfect picnic fare, which means it’s also great for bento. The usual frittata recipe calls for baking it in the oven, but it’s hard to find the time to heat up the oven and then bake something on a weekday morning. This method of cooking it on the stovetop appeared in the April issue of kyou no ryouri (Today’s Cooking) magazine. The total cooking time is only about 10-15 minutes.

The original recipe just used broccoli, but I used a mix of steamed broccoli and the ever-useful red pepper and onion confit . You could make it with any cooked vegetable mix, so it’s a great way of using up leftovers. You could add chopped up leftover meat to this too if you like. Cheap, frugal and tasty! continue reading...

Carrot rice two ways

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Carrot rice is basically just rice cooked with carrots and some flavorings. It makes the rice colorful, as well as sneaking in some more vegetable content into your meal, bento or not. (It should work on kids too.) It does not taste ‘carrot-y’ at all, just slightly sweet.

I’ve been experimenting with different ways of making carrot rice, and these are the two methods that produce the best flavored rice so far with the least effort. One or the other may fit your routine better, so they are both here. continue reading...