In Japan, it is said that “toshi-no-se,” the year-end, is bound to be busy, as everyone starts acting somehow anxious to finish off things prior to the fresh start of the new year. As mentioned before, the new year is a big deal in this country, and we do everything to make sure the new year to be quiet and special.
This year was no exception for me also, and I was running around like a headless chicken without any time to stop and take a big breath… until we left for our Christmas holidays in the Netherlands to visit my husband’s family. Hesitantly we dropped unfinished errands, hurriedly packed our suitcases, left beautiful & sunny Tokyo, and arrived in the equally beautiful, but quite dark Netherlands yesterday. It is Christmas Eve here in the Netherlands, and things already seemed to have slowed down, and people are starting to relax for the festivity to begin. The sense of rush I was feeling in Japan is nowhere to be seen here. It’s an interesting realisation what a huge difference there is depending on which culture you’re in.
Looking back at the bento photos I didn’t have a chance to upload before our departure, I can vaguely remember how I managed all these bento making during my busy schedule. It’ll resume in the new year, but for now I’m relieved that I won’t have to do it for the next two weeks.
15/Dec/17 – Grilled cod in saikyo-miso
18/Dec/17 – Simmered sword fish
19/Dec/17 – Nikudon-don
20/Dec/17 – Macaroni genovese
22/Dec/17 – Chicken soboro
Menu: Chicken Soboro on rice with nori seaweed, Cabbage, cucumber & corn salad, Cherry tomato & broccoli omelet, Boiled green beans
Apple bunnies for dessert
The Soboro (chicken mince crumble) I used today was the last bit of what I made a few weeks ago that had been kept in the freezer. Of course it’s useful, but I shouldn’t have kept it too long as it’s flavour wasn’t as good as when it was freshly made. My daughter finished it all, so I consider it was still acceptable…
Menu: Sanshoku tricolour bento, Boiled cabbage & komatsuna, Cherry tomato, Cucumber sticks
Diced strawberries for dessert
In the old calendar (based on Chinese Year I believe), the 3rd of February is called “Setsubun,” which literal meaning is to divide seasons. It’s considerered to be the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
The tricolour bento always gives me an impression of flower field. I used to love opening my mum’s tricolour bento with its cheerfulness. Hope my daughter had a similar, if not the same, feeling about her bento today.
Click here for the recipe of Sanshoku tricolour bento.
Pardon my handwriting…
Another soboro, chicken mince variation mixed with freshly cooked rice, chopped boiled spinach and sesame
New bento box for our big girl’s kindergarten. Kindergarten specifically asked to prepare an aluminum bento box for some reason. I guess I will find out why in due course
Menu: Chicken mince tricolor bento, steamed broccoli, cherry tomato, simmered pumpkin in dashi broth
Our LO started going to her kindergarten in April and today was supposed to be her first official school picnic with her new classmates and their parent/s… but of course it was postponed because of the rain… and of course it was decided at the last minute, and I ended up preparing our packed lunch that was not really necessary… (the regular class ends at 11:40am for the time being, that is part of “adjusting” period for the little ones). And of course by that time the sun started shining, so with some friends we went for a voluntary picnic in the near by playground.
All turned around to be very nice at the end, as we say in Japanese, “終わり良ければ全て良し /owari yokereba subete yoshi (All’s well that ends well)”
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!