All posts by Small Tokyo Kitchen

A Japanese Tokyoite loving food, design, culture and writing

Kindergarten bento – Start of the new year (10/Jan/19)

It is our daughter’s first day back at school in Tokyo after our wonderful Christmas/New Year holiday in Europe. We had a magical time, spending time with our family and close & new friends, away from home, making yet another unforgettable memories.

On our way home from the airport yesterday, we stopped at our local supermarket to replenish our empty fridge. It was incredible to see our daughter getting excited at the traditional Japanese ingredients she hadn’t eaten for the past two plus weeks. Despite her flexible palate, she must have craved for the taste from home.

For her first bento for the year, I packed shirasu, baby sardines, over freshly cooked rice, one of the very Japanese ingredients she eagerly requested.

Kindergarten bento – How many ingredients (31/Oct – 8/Nov/18)

In Japan, it is said that we should take 30 different ingredients a day. Let’s see how many I managed to pack in our daughter’s bento in a week.

31/Oct – 10.

Minced chicken, sweet potato, egg, cherry tomato, broccoli, rice, rice sprinkle (mainly seaweed), sesame, apple, mikan mandarin

1/Nov – 11.

Salmon, sesame, rice, rice sprinkle (mainly Shiso leaf), egg, broccoli, cucumber, bonito flake, sweet potato, minced chicken, Nashi pear

Nov 2 – 11.

Pork, cabbage, sesame, miso paste, rice, egg, spinach, cucumber, bonito flake, cherry tomato, apple

Nov 5 – 11.

Pumpkin, egg, broccoli, chicken filet, green beans, sesame, rice, spinach, Shirasu baby sardine, rice, goma-kombu, apple

Nov 6 – 8.

Sword fish, egg, tofu, aonori (powdered seaweed), carrot, broccoli, rice, apple

Nov 8 – 8.

Salmon, egg, sweet potato, cucumber, broccoli, rice, Nashi pear, Persimmon

Average of 9.8 ingredients a day. We usually eat bread & cheese & fruit for breakfast, so this means I’d have to make dinner with around 15 more ingredients. How would that be possible…?

Kindergarten bento – Roots (Fri 12/Oct/18)

Nikudon, pork on rice, is one of the most popular recipes in my blog. It is my mum’s recipe and was passed on to me and my sister before we “married out of the family”. I’m planning to pass it on to my little girl too, once she becomes old enough to be able to handle knives and gas stove.

Incidentally on the same day, my parents came all the way to Tokyo from their home in the countryside, in order to buy their youngest granddaughter a so-called “Randoseru”, a chunky backpack used by the most of elementary school children here in Japan. I don’t know when it started, but it is kind of a modern tradition for grandparents to buy a Randoseru for their grandchildren. Our daughter was no exception, and her eventful visit to the Randoseru shop was carried out with her proud grandparents.

Additionally and coincidentally, we found out that the word Randoseru is derived from the Dutch word “ransel” (backpack). My Dutch husband got pleasantly surprised that his roots, hence our daughter’s too, is also part of her exciting milestone happening away home home.

Despite the distances, our daughter is surrounded by the traces of her roots, whether it’s the food we eat, the words we use, or the custom we follow.

Kindergarten bento – Ice pouch (11/Oct/18)

In busy mornings, these ice pouches become super handy. I usually keep several of them in our freezer.

For our daughter’s bento, I usually pack freshly cooked rice, as it is still tasty even after it cools down. Cold rice from the fridge or defrosted rice from the freezer does not taste very well in a bento, unless it’s heated up again to its original condition before packing, which can be a little tiresome. Hence I usually set the rinsed rice in the rice cooker the night before with the timer on, and let it do the job by itself, and get the freshly cooked rice first thing in the morning.

The problem however is heat. The rice needs to cool down before putting the lid on; otherwise it would form a lot of steam, which is not good for food preservation. To combat this, I use these ice pouches, by placing them under the bento box for five minutes or so. It works really well, and I must admit I can’t live without them now.