menu: hijiki rice with egg crumble on top, potato, spinach & salmon salad, broccoli & cherry tomato
strawberries & yogurt for dessert
today’s bento consists of a couple of variations from previous recipes. hijiki rice is literally just hijiki mixed with freshly cooked rice, and i put egg crumbles (scramble egg made into very small pieces) on top to give it a nice bright colour and a little bit of sweet taste.
the salad is with boiled potato cut into bite size, tossed with grilled salmon flakes (the same as salmon rice) & chopped boiled spinach (froze it before) with a pinch of salt and a quick drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
it’s an example of another easy, quick but very colorful & cheerful bento for our little one.
menu: grilled salmon on rice, chicken crumble with tofu, steamed broccoli, boiled egg, cherry tomato
fresh apple for dessert
the chicken crumble with tofu is an improvised variation of tori-soboro, the chicken mince crumble, i cooked the other day. i usually prepare a lot of it and freeze it for a later use. it’s really simple, healthy and tasty – just mix the chicken crumble with tofu (silky one if available) & cooked veggies like carrots, green beans and spinach, and just a tiny drip of soy sauce. you can eat it cold or warm – it’s a great match with freshly cooked rice.
menu: creamy chicken fettuccine, asparagus & tomato omelette, ham & cucumber tapas
fresh banana & apple for dessert
i really like the sense of spring packed into today’s bento box. hope our LO felt it, too!
on this year’s valentine’s day, we had guests over for dinner to celebrate their recent marriage, and we ate shabu shabu for dinner. shabu shabu is a japanese equivalent of bouillon fondú, with finely sliced beef and/or pork, along with other ingredients such as tofu, mushrooms, vegetables, etc. here in japan, we tend to serve meat dishes like shabu shabu for celebrations, because quality meat is generally expensive hence prestigious.
as shown in the picture, we actually cook shabu shabu in a large earthware pot called donabe on the table. we have this portable cooking stove with a can of gas attached to it. so yes, we kind of let our guests cook their own food. but it’s very interactive and fun, great for a dinner party with a close group of friends.
at the end of shabu shabu, we put fresh udon noodles to finish off our meal (in japan we always end our meal with some carbo, such as rice or noodles), and that turned into our LO’s bento the next day.
menu: shabu shabu udon, pumpkin cooked in dashi broth, egg, tomato & cucumber salad
apple mousse and yogurt for dessert
menu: san-shoku (tricolor) bento with tori-soboro (chicken mince crumble), scrambled egg & sliced snow pea, tomato & cucumber salad, mashed sweet potato & spinach
apple mousse & diced banana for dessert
today’s main dish is, in my family, called “san-shoku” bento. the literal translation of “san-shoku” is tricolor, and in this bento, the three colours are represented by tori-soboro (cooked chicken mince) in brown, scrambled egg in bright yellow & sliced snow peas in spring green. the three ingredients are placed separately on top of white rice, next to each other. in order to give a little feeling of spring, I put a small slice of steamed carrot (cut out with a flower-shaped cutter), which makes the bento look like a flower field…. i remember having been very happy to open this bento box in particular, not only for its taste but also for its colourfulness, cheerfulness and this care that my mum put into on its presentation. i was always proud of having such a pretty looking bento, which may sound silly but did matter quite a lot growing up…
san-shoku bento recipe
- 200g minced chicken
- 1 table spoon of sake (if not available, white wine)
- 1 table spoon of dashi-soy sauce (if not available, normal soy sauce)
- 1+ table spoon of mirin (if not available, a sprinkle of brown sugar with a table spoon of water)
- 1 egg
- a pinch of salt
- 1 tea spoon of oil
- a few snow peas
- a pinch of salt
- chicken mince – in a frying pan stir-fry minced chicken in medium heat. make sure to constantly stir the chicken so that it doesn’t get burnt, and try to make chicken as crumbled as possible
- once the chicken is browned, add sake, and stir further
- add soy sauce and mirin, stir further until the sauce is reduced but still keeping the chicken moist
- scrambled egg – beat the egg and add salt while heating up a small frying pan
- when the pan is hot, add oil, and then the egg
- immediately start scrambling, and make egg as crumbled as possible (tip: hold a few pairs of chopsticks in your fist and stiiiiiirrrrr)
- snow peas – in a small pan, bring water to boil
- add a pinch of salt and snow peas (make sure to remove any strings beforehand. salt is added to keep the bright green colour of the peas), boil for 2-3 minutes until tender but not soggy
- once cooked, rinse the peas in running cold water for its bright green colour
- slice the cooked peas into small pieces
- decoration – on white rice (with its surface flat), place the 3 ingredients above separately, next to each other to make 3 wide stripes (or any other shapes you like)
that’s it, enjoy!
menu: onigiri (rice balls) with shirasu (baby sardines) & spinach, rolled cabbage, carrots, green beans and cherry tomato
raspberries with yogurt & honey for dessert
onigiri is one of the most typical recipes for bento box. it is rice ball with some seasoning/garnish with nori seaweed, and its name comes from a verb “nigiru“, which means “to grasp” or “to hold”. most people must know what onigiri is, but to clarify it is a bit different from sushi from various aspects – sushi rice is prepared with rice vinegar, sugar & salt, whereas onigiri rice is with just a pinch of salt. sushi usually comes with THE most fresh ingredients, such as raw fish or shellfish, but onigiri is prepared with cooked or preserved ingredients such as grilled salmon flakes or umeboshi, pickled sour plums (by the way, i cannot eat umeboshi because of its sourness – oh dear so unjapanese of me, my mum must be so cross with me for this). shape wise, sushi has this small boat-like shape, while onigiri usually has either round or triangle form. sushi is usually bite size, while onigiri is much bigger and fills you up quite quickly (usually an onigiri is made with the portion of a small bowl of rice). we eat sushi more on special occasions, whereas onigiri is rather everyday food. sushi is luxurious and elegant, while onigiri is rustic and homey. sushi, expensive, onigiri, cheep! ….maybe that’s enough explanation 😉
for LO’s bento today, i prepared nori seaweed separately from rice ball, so that it will remain dry & crisp. but you can also put it on rice ball beforehand if you prefer nori being rather soggy. it’s totally up to you.
today’s side dish, rolled cabbage, is just some leftover from the evening before. it is pork mince pâté wrapped & rolled in a cabbage leaf, and cooked in chicken bouillon. i used sliced pancetta and thyme to give extra flavour.
i hope LO liked my another effortless bento today.
menu: macaroni with tomato sauce, mashed sweet potato with chicken mince, boiled egg, broccoli
fresh strawberries for dessert
LO loves any kind of pasta, but her absolute favorite is the one with tomato sauce. i make tomato sauce with only 3 ingredients – cherry tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. just toss the 3 ingredients into a pan, simmer it until tomatoes get watery, for 8 minutes or so. with any pasta of your choice, you’ll be surprised how tasty it can be with such simple recipe.
depending on the side dishes, i make sure to add chopped spinach or some other veg, as well as either tuna, chicken or bacon in the sauce, so that LO gets enough nutrients from a meal. but today i kept it simple, as there were already enough protain and vitamins in the side dishes.
LO loves sprinkling parmiggiano on her pasta, so i put a tiny container of grated parmiggiano in her bento box, which i thought was very cute. she seemed to have enjoyed it, too 🙂
menu: lotus root curry & rice, sliced veg salad, eggs & spinach salad
apple mousse & yogurt for dessert
last evening when i was about to cook i found renkon, lotus root, in our fridge that i had bought for some other dish but ended up not using. since i didn’t feel like cooking the dish i had originally planned, i made curry out of it (such a convenient and easy dish to prepare with a help of japanese-adapted curry roux). it turned out really nice, with the crunchy texture of renkon matching very well with the saucy spicy curry. i used chicken mince with it, which added roundness and depth to the flavour.