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.

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Good idea that chili

Good idea that chili version. The sesame oil adds a delicious asian note. I do love carrots and usually make carrot’s salad with hazelnut oil, a good version too.

I make something similar,

I make something similar, but I use fish sauce instead of dashi/kombu powder.

It’s a lovely vegetable addition to a bento, and it’s so easy! If I run out of time in the morning to squeeze the lemon, good apple cider vinegar is a decent substitute too.

For a teensy bit more substance, sometimes I use tahini instead of sesame oil.

no cook!

thanks for another must try. this is very helpful with my plan to continue making healthy bentos in 2009.

I tried this out for dinner

I tried this out for dinner tonight and it was really well-received! :) It was suggested that the addition of some crushed nuts might make it better :)

I agree with Catherine,

I agree with Catherine, peanuts for instance, work very wel with grated carrots! Yummm….. Great little salad this one!

Benriner Mandolin

I was recently in the market for a mandolin. I asked around the consensus between trusted friends was that benriner is the best. It’s one of the cheapest and the blade is infinitely adjustable in terms of thickness as compared to the Kyocera which has set thickness positions.

Here it is on Amazon.

Will add to my "Easy" bin!

I have to admit, I love recipes that begin with "The Easiest"... That said, the ingredients are all some of my favorites and will give it a try. Have you ever made it with cilantro instead of parseley? I love cilantro/sesame combos so might give it a try, too. Thanks for posting :)

Re: Will add to my "Easy" bin!

I've made something similar with cilantro for a while - it's very tasty that way, and possibly even more asian. :) You can also sub in seaweed for the carrots.

Re: Cilantro

Actually, cilantro is not used at all in Japanese cooking (though it is used in 'ethnic' cooking in Japan). It's considered quite inedible by a lot of people there. I do like cilantro now, but it took quite a long time to get to that point! My stepfather calls it "dokudami" which means 'poison weed' :o

Re: Cilantro

Poison Weed?

I eat Cilantro all the time, it is the same plant you get coriander from.

My folks make a great pico de gallo that uses it in quantity.

8 diced roma tomatoes
1 diced yellow onion
1/2 cup of minced cilantro
2 minced jalapenos or 1 minced serrano pepper(my favorite, but Mom likes the jalapenos)
2 cloves of minced garlic
3 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice
salt to taste

Just stir everything together with a non-reactive spoon in a bowl of the same and let rest 1/2 hour minimum. It goes with almost everything: eggs, tacos, meat, fish, salad, beans, rice, whatever.

Re: Cilantro

Uh, I do know that cilantro is coriander. I was just saying that my stepfather calls it 'dokudami' because he dislikes it so much! Just as many people dislike strongly flavored foods..umeboshi, nori, natto, kusaya...(that last one...oh, baby)

Re: Bento Filler: The Easiest Ever Carrot-Sesame Salad

so easy to make & the flavor gets better and better as the salad sets. i added jalapeno just cause i had it around. big thumbs up!

Re: Bento Filler: The Easiest Ever Carrot-Sesame Salad

This is very similar to a carrot salad I make with toasted mustard seeds and lemon juice. Mine is a Gujarati Carrot Salad from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking. It's also full of other great salad recipes I use in my bento boxes.

Re: Bento Filler: The Easiest Ever Carrot-Sesame Salad

How many calories are in this filler?

Re: Bento Filler: The Easiest Ever Carrot-Sesame Salad

This is how I prepare my (so far) favorite carrot salad:

finely shred 2 carrots and
not so finely 1 peeled apple.
add a handful of crushed roasted (unsalted) peanuts
add olive or linseed oil and balsamic vinegar
no salt, no sugar, but some people like a tbs of orange juice in it (I don't).

Anyway; this salad brings you straigt to heaven!

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