Menu: Onigiri with grilled salmon, Spinach omelet, Colourful cherry tomatoes, Steamed cabbage
Apple & steamed potato for dessert
My daughter loves onigiri, especially when nori seaweed is packed separately from the riceballs so that she can do it all on her own and enjoy its crispy texture. I hardly ever makes onigiri now for her kindergarten bento, primarily because it’s much easier and takes less time to just pack rice in the bento box instead of having to go through the trouble of putting rice in shape. But this morning I needed an onigiri for myself to bring it with me to work, so I made them for her also. The result? A happy & satisfied girl with a big smile 🙂
Today, there was an “art exhibition” at our daughter’s school first thing in the morning, presenting all the artwork made by the children for the past ten months. In our daughter’s class, there were a number of mushroom-shaped paper canvas on the wall with colourful dots and hearts painted by the children, their pictures of a large decoration cake with their own illustration (our girl painted the cake pink, purple & yellow, drew 3 candles on it and above the cake 3 people with smiling faces, representing her family. *sigh*), etcetera, etcetera…
Among all of their hard work, the biggest achievement of all was….THIS.
They each made a bento box. It had two onigiri balls, tamagoyaki (omelet), cherry tomatoes and some lettus leaves. My daughter made her onigiri balls triangle. Some of her friends made round ones or even square ones, but she made triangle onigiri balls, because I always make them triangle. Because that’s what she knows and what she eats. In the classroom, Miss N thoughtfully prepared a table with a pretend table cloth and pretend chopsticks so that the children can “eat” their own bento artwork with their mummies and daddies. The table was immediately occupied, with the children so proud of their own achievement and thrilled to share their great creation with their touchy-feely parents. My daughter also excitedly pulled my hand to her bento art and presented it to me. I picked up an omelet and pretended to eat, while my little girl was anxiously waiting to hear what I’d have to say. I opened my eyes wide and said, “Oishii!! (Good)!”, which of course brought her a shy but very large smile on her face.
After the art exhibition (lasted only half an hour or so), the parents were excused, and the children resumed their routine of another normal day. I wonder what my little girl thought, at today’s lunch time, about today’s bento I prepared for her after sharing her art bento with me. Coincidentally it contained omelet and cherry tomatoes (well, I put them almost everyday actually), with the same colour codes. I wonder whether it came across to her mind that the tiny detail of her bento resembles mine, just like my bento appear to resemble my mum’s. After all, she looks at it, tastes it every single day at school. The colours, taste, smell, ingredients, presentation… all of these must affect all of her senses although it is not very obvious right now. I remember my mum’s bentos she made when I was a little girl. I was always proud of her bento, because it was not only tasty but also beautiful with cheerful colours, the type of colours reminding me of flower fields. I hope that my daughter also looks forward to opening her bento everyday, feels happy every time she opens the lid and has the first bite. The joy of bento making is the expectation of making someone happy. I’m sure one day my daughter will also prepare a bento for someone else, and I hope she will remember my bentos fondly, just like I do my mum’s.
Menu: Shirasu (baby sardine) donburi, Corn omelet, Stewed potato/hakusai cabbage/chicken in milk, Boiled green beans, Cherry tomatoes
Kaki persimmon for dessert
Menu: Shiokoji (salted & fermented ricemalt) salmon onigiri, Diced sweet potato with tori-soboro, Boiled egg, and Cucumber sticks
Apple wedges for dessert
Shiokoji, salted & fermented ricemalt, has been one of the hottest ingredients in Japan in recent years. Shio = salt, koji = ricemalt, is a traditional Japanese condiment, and we mainly use it as sort of like marinade on fish or meat in order to give extra flavour and tenderness. Since it is salted & fermented, it can preserve food quite well, and is considered to be one of the many superfoods we have in this country.
For whatever reason, some media picked up on it in a cooking program on TV one day, and ever since then shiokoji has become an important must-have item in our everyday kitchen. Everyone started talking about it, even though it had been there for ages, as if it was some novel discovery. My mum and her sisters are crazy about it also, and even culture their own shiokoji at home. They consistently and a little persistently kept suggesting me to use this magical ingredient, up to a point where I had no choice but use it so that I can make them happy hence quiet. But you can never underestimate your mum’s or auntie’s wise words. Once I started incorporating it in my cooking I have become a big fan.
So there it is, marinated salmon filet in shiokoji. I grilled the filet this morning in our fish grill for our little girl’s onigiri riceballs. I added chopped boiled komatsuna for extra crunchiness and flavour.
Menu: salmon onigiri, spinach/potato/bacon stir fry, cucumber/cherry tomato/tofu salad
Apple wedges for dessert
Of course I prepared most of the dishes in advance the evening before, because I’m not a morning person and cannot wake up too early. The rice is cooked with the timer on the rice cooker.
Wakana onigiri didn’t happen as I ran out of time😓
Extra nori seaweed for her, as she loves it and very healthy
Apple for dessert