Just so my 5-year-old daughter eats more green, I sometimes put chopped spinach or komatsuna greens in omelet. She usually eats it all, but I was a bit unsure about this time since I might have added too much komatsuna.
When she came home, as expected, there was a few strings of komatsuna left. I just wanted to tease her a bit and asked her why she didn’t finish it all. She frowned at my interrogation, and whether trying to avoid getting into trouble or not, she said, “I don’t like this omelet with spicy green, but I always eat it because you made it with love”.
She left me there speechless.
Is it only me, or maybe anyone who grew up in the same/similar culture as mine, who feel a slight sense of guilt for cooking something too quick and easy? As a good cook in the Japanese society, you are supposed to (or trained to) devote a great deal of time in the kitchen, to make elaborate dishes. In fact, when we visit my parents’ place, my mum hardly ever sits down with us. She spends most of her time cooking in her kitchen, focusing on serving freshly made dishes one after the other, right from the stove. And she does it with great pleasure. She is very proud of it.
I know this is quite the reverse of the modern thinking, and I’m not saying at all that this is how things should be. I hate it, to be forced into the framework of becoming a stereotypical ideal woman, and try hard to push the pressure away always. But on the other hand, this sense of guilt always comes with it. No matter how much I am exposed to the feminism movement, I just cannot change the way I instinctively feel. It is ingrained in my bones, having grown up in the society with high expectations for girls to become a good mum/wife/woman. The society expects it, and your fellow female peers expect it to a certain extent, still in the 21st century.
Well, it takes about three minutes to make this yakitori-don if you already have your rice ready. I bought pre-cut chicken thigh (guilt), don’t even have to marinate it (another guilt), stir-fry it and quickly season at the end. Voila, it’s done (within three minutes). I just boiled egg rather than make omelet (guilt), packed it with unseasoned vegetables (guilt). On top of this, I packed frozen apple mousse and mashed sweet potato from the freezer for dessert (see, I am now officially guilty).
Recipe for the three minute Yakitori donburi:
Ingredients (for 2 servings):
- Diced chicken thigh (100g)
- 1 table spoon of Japanese sake (or white wine)
- 3/4 table spoon of soy sauce
- 1 table spoon of mirin (if you don’t have mirin, just a sprinkle of sugar instead, with a bit more sake)
- In a medium sized frying pan on medium heat, quickly stir-fry the chicken thigh. No oil needed
- Once the chicken becomes golden, add the sake until it starts evaporating
- Add the soy sauce & mirin and cook it until the sauce thickens – this takes about a minute or so, depending on the heat
- Serve it on top of freshly cooked rice with sliced nori seaweed
Here is the list of ingredients in the bento today, not including the seasonings such as salt, soy sauce, etc.
11 ingredients in total, with a good variety of veggies. Protein from chicken, egg and broad beans, carbo from rice, and vitamins from fruits. Iron from broccoli. I guess it’s not too bad from a nutrition point of view.
- Furikake sprinkle (to be precise there are a few in there, but let’s say this is just one)
- Chicken thigh
- Cherry tomato
- Borad beans
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
As I am still suffering with my strained back, I didn’t get a chance to go to a grocery store to replenish bento ingredients. This means I need to depend on my stock in the freezer. It’s handy, but I’m running out of the options.
Today I made an attempt to go for a Soboro (chicken crumble) variation. I mixed the Soboro into freshly cooked rice along with wakana sprinkle. It tastes more or less the same as my bi/tri-colour bento, but hopefully the new visual presentation makes a bit of s difference.
Menu: Soboro & wakana sprinkle mixed in rice (with nori seaweed on top), Simmered pumpkin mixed with lightly fried bacon, Boiled egg, Steamed broccoli, Cucumber sticks, Cherry tomato
Apple mousse & strawberries for dessert
I overslept this morning. In such a panicky morning, frozen chicken soboro, sautéed minced chicken, comes in handy.
While Soboro is being defrosted (just in room temperature), quickly make scrambled egg and boil green beans. Once the beans are boiled thinly slice them, place them along with Soboro and egg carefully on top of freshly cooked rice. Voila, it’s done!
Steamed mashed pumpkin also came from my dear freezer.
Menu: Chicken Soboro bento, Steamed mashed pumpkin, Cucumber sticks, Cherry tomato
Tangerine Mikan for dessert
I forgot to take the photo of my daughter’s bento at the kitchen this morning. Just for the sake of continuing to upload this to this site everyday, I got the bento out of my daughter’s school backpack, and took this photo at the entrance hall while my husband was being grumpy to be in a rush to bring her to school on his way to work.
Menu: Soboro tricolour bento, Steamed broccoli, Steamed carrot and daikon with dash of sea salt & extra virgin olive oil
Mikan for dessert