recipe

Bento filler: Easy sugarfree carrot kinpira

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This is probably my favorite way to eat carrots - cut into matchstick size, stir fried in sesame oil until crisp-tender with some red pepper flakes, and finished with a scatter of sesame seeds. It’s crunchy, salty and spicy. It’s really tasty at room temperature, which makes it a great bento filler. continue reading...

Bento filler: Blanched spinach with soy sauce or sesame sauce

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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...

Recipe collection: Mains

This section contains recipes for main okazu, the star of your bento box. Usually the main is some kind of protein, but you’ll also find some carb-and-protein combination recipes too.

For foods that can be made in advance and stocked, in the freezer, refrigerator or pantry, see the johbisai section. continue reading...

Recipe collection: Side dishes and space fillers

This section contains recipes that are secondary okazu, food items in a bento box besides the main carb. Most are vegetable based. continue reading...

Basic meat and tofu mixture for mini-burgers, meatballs and more

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I spent about an hour on Sunday making and cooking up a big batch of a basic burger mixture. The mix is very versatile, so I made four different things from it. Now I have enough mini-burgers, meatballs and more in my freezer for at least 20 or more bento portions. It was an hour well spent! I love just knowing that my freezer has a nice stock of ready-to-go bento items - it takes the pressure off considerably on busy mornings. continue reading...

Make your own instant vegetable soup concentrate

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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...

Bite-size chicken teriyaki for bento boxes

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Usually chicken teriyaki (or chikiteri as it’s abbreviated sometimes) is made from whole chicken thigh pieces, but I prefer to cut the meat up in advance for bento use - the smaller pieces cook faster, and I don’t have to deal with slicing hot cooked meat early in the morning.

The chicken can be marinated from the night before or just briefly in the morning. You can also make this in some quantity and freeze the cooked pieces - since you are using thigh meat, the pieces won’t dry out so easily after defrosting like white meat can. continue reading...

Homemade furikake no. 8: Hijiki and chirimenjako (tiny tiny fish)

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I’m cheating a bit here since this recipe has been featured already on Just Hungry. But it did get rather buried in a general article about seaweed, so here it is again in the Homemade Furikake series.

This combines hijiki, which is full of fiber and minerals, with chirimenjako, tiny little whole salted fish. You can find both at Japanese grocery stores, and Chinese grocery stores carry something similar. Since they are whole fish, they are full of calcium, and also pack a lot of umami. Many Japanese people are lactose intolerant, so they get their calcium by eating things like chirimenjako. continue reading...