Basic meat soboro, a great bento staple

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A soboro is rather like furikake, except that it’s moister. It’s used like furikake in many situations - sprinkled onto rice, folded into other things like eggs, and more. Soboro can be made of ground meat, flaked fish (though fish soboro is often called oboro instead), or egg (egg soboro is often called iri tamago, just to keep you confused!) Meat soboro (niku soboro) keeps for about a week in the refrigerator, and freezes beautifully, making it a great bento johbisai or staple for the omnivore. continue reading...

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

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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

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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 boxes of the week: Muji's plain white bento boxes

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The minimalist white bento box offerings from Muji. continue reading...

Homemade furikake no. 5: Sweet bacon

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I’ve neglected the furikake series for a while, but it’s back!

And what better way to return, than with bacon.

I have bacon on the mind recently for some reason. I’m not overindulging in it, but it’s fun trying to figure out different ways of incorporating bacon in one’s life.

Bacon goes with everything, including rice. It’s salty and bacon-y. I’ve souped it up by adding some Japanese flavors sweet-salty flavors. The result is almost like bacon candy. A little goes a long way.

It’s great sprinkled on just about everything. Besides rice, you could sprinkle it on eggs, vegetables, your tongue… continue reading...

Help me to assemble a comprehensive Japanese grocery store and bento source list!

In case you read Just Bento but not Just Hungry - I’m finally embarking on a project I’ve always intended to tackle, but never got around to: putting together a good listing of Japanese grocery stores around the world. I’ll include bento supplies too, since many people who are interested in bento making are also interested in Japanese cooking, and vice versa.

If you have any stores, mailorder sources, and so on to recommend, please head on over here. With your help I’m hoping to assemble a really useful list!

Bento no. 15: Bacon wrapped tofu bento

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 495 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 15 minutes in the morning, 20+ minutes make-ahead

Type: Japanese, mostly make-ahead

This bento uses a lot of staples and make-ahead items. This is really the key to assembling a varied bento lunch box without having to wake up an hour early in the morning to do so! The only thing that is made from scratch in the morning is the bacon wrapped tofu, and even that can be made the night before if needed (though it’s best if you make it in the morning.) Johbisai or staples are really great: I got six total bentos out of one batch of the pepper and onion confit, and I’ll get at least 2 or 4 bentos out of the 3 remaining tea eggs.

The star of the bento though is the bacon wrapped tofu. It’s delicious hot or cold. For a bento, the salty-sweet variation is particularly good. Be sure to use an extra-firm tofu. continue reading...

Lazy easy tea eggs

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This is a sort of short-term storage staple. It only keeps in the refrigerator for about 3 or 4 days, but you can make them at any time and they are handy for filling a corner of a bento box.

There are many more complicated recipes for tea eggs, a traditional Chinese recipe. The boiled eggs are usually meant to be kept in the tea-based marinade with their shells on, carefully cracked all around so that a lovely marble pattern is revealed when the eggs are peeled.

My method is way simpler, and is motivated by the fact that I don’t really want to be fiddling around with peeling eggs in the morning. Since the eggs are totally peeled, the marinade will penetrate it faster and deeper, so you can start using them just an hour after you’ve put them in the liquid if you like. continue reading...