Bento Filler: The Easiest Ever Carrot-Sesame Salad
This is yet another recipe that is so easy that I didn't even think of posting it, though I make it all the time. But since a lot of you guys liked the soy sauce eggs, and carrot kinpira is one of the most popular recipes on Just Bento (not to mention the most, ahem, copied elsewhere)...I thought, why not?
It is a very simple carrot salad flavored with sesame oil. You can add toasted sesame seeds if you want, or chopped up parsley as I did here, or both. Or leave both out and keep it simple. The good thing about this salad for bentos is that it stays crunchy and fresh-tasting even the next day after making it. It's a nice colorful filler.
Recipe: Carrot sesame salad
- 2 medium carrots
- 3/4 Tbs. lemon juice, OR 1 Tbs. ponzu
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- Pinch of dashi granules or konbu powder (you can leave this out)
- Pinch of salt (omit if you are using dashi granules)
- A dash of soy sauce
- 1/2 Tbs. dark sesame oil
- Optional: Some roughly chopped parsley
Peel the carrots, and shred them with a coarse grater (see below about the slicer tool I use).
Put in a bowl with the chopped parsley. Add the rest of the ingredients, and mix well. The flavor mellows if you can let it rest for an hour or more (overnight is good).
And..that's it! Just drain off some of the juice when packing into a bento box. I do recommend putting it in a divider cup. (The leftover juice is very tasty, so you could add it to a green salad as dressing.)
Variations and Notes
- Add a tablespoon or so of toasted sesame seeds.
- Add some julienned red chili pepper for a spicy version.
- Note about ponzu: This is a citrusy vinegar/condiment available at Japanese grocery stores. It has a tart, refreshing flavor. (It's also been rather trendy in the restaurant scene for a few years.) It makes a great salad dressing base.
- Buy sesame oil at an Asian store. Some health food stores may have untoasted (raw) sesame oil, which may be better for you but does not have the flavor of toasted sesame oil, which should be a medium to dark amber in color, not clear or yellowish.
A good tool to have: A plastic interchangeable blade slicer/shredder
This is the 'cassette' grater/slicer/shredder I have. It's made in Japan and is about oh, 15 years old, and is a hand-me-down (otherwise known as 'borrowed from my mother's kitchen and never returned'). It still does its job flawlessly. I think it was about 1500 yen brand new. I shredded up two carrots in about two minutes.
Nowadays many makers make this kind of interchangeable-blade slicer. (This one looks nice.) They are very easy to clean, and much less intimidating than the big French mandolines. I classify this tool as nice to have on my Essential Bento Equipment list, but it sure is great for tasks like shredding carrots! You could also use an old fashioned knuckle-scraper type of grater, or the shredding blade on your food processor.