Menu: Grilled salmon mixed in rice with scrambled egg on top, Mashed sweet potato with tori-soboro, Steamed broccoli, Boiled green beans, Cherry tomato
Mandarin mikan for dessert
Menu: Shaké (grilled salmon), Mashed pumpkin & boiled egg salad, Boiled green beans, Cherry tomato, Rice with sesame furikake
Banana & Apple for dessert
Sháké or Sáké (鮭) is a Japanese name for salmon. Similar to sake, the rice wine, but you pronounce ‘a’ and ‘e’ more distinctly for the fish. Shaké-Ben is short for bento with grilled salmon, which is quite a common, basic, and standard style of packed lunch in this country. Usually for grown ups the size of salmon filet is bigger and in one piece, but I made them smaller into bite size pieces for our little girl with clumsy chopstick skills.
Menu: Grilled salmon on rice, Tofu & seaweed powder omelet, Cabbage & tuna salad, Boiled okura, Cherry tomatoes
Kiwi & western pear for dessert
When I grill fish, I normally use our fish grill embedded in our gas stove. This morning was the same, I put a glass of water in the fish grill pan (so the fish stays moist not dry), placed two filets of salmon on top of the fish grill net and closed the cover. Put the heat in medium-high, waited 5 minutes or so to cook one side, and flipped the filets, waited for another 5 minutes or so to cook the other side. Everything was going just fine, but maybe because the heat was a little higher than usual as I was in a rush or I put too little water, a small amount of smoke started to emerge. When this happens, believe me that the entire apartment starts smelling very, very, fishy, even if you open the windows or turn up your ventilation to full speed. Although I immediately turned the heat down and saved my precious salmon filet (came out nicely even), the smell inevitably stayed. An hour on, I can still smell the trace of smoky fishy smell in my kitchen, hair and clothes😂
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: Grilled salmon, Steamed sweet potato & lightly fried bacon, Boiled egg, Cucumber & cherry tomato
Japanese “kyoho” grapes for dessert
Our little girl caught another cold, second one in a month, this time with some coughs and runny nose. In the evening before she seemed a little weak but fine, so I set the timer for the rice cooker and put my alarm for the daily bento making the following morning.
In the morning I usually wake up before her and start preparing the bento, so that’s what I did. Once everything was ready, I went in to her room and tried to wake up my little sleepy head. She usually mumbles something grumpily but resigns and wakes up eventually, but this morning she still seemed to be in her deep sleep. I quickly realised she was quite ill, and we decided to keep her home for the day.
The bento wasn’t really necessary today, but she ate most of it at our coffee table, despite her nasty coughs, continuous runny nose and a bit of fever. She used her own cutlery set and place mat that she uses at kindergarten everyday. She proudly laid everything very nicely on the table, just like she always does it at school, which made my heart tickle and made me want to hug her tightly.
Sometimes bento making gets so tedious I wish there was school lunch provided at her kindergarten, but I wouldn’t have seen her eating my handmade bento the way she did today. For this, every effort is worth it. For this, I will keep making bento for our girl.
Our daughter got some fever and coughs after going swimming on Monday. I thought it was due to some fatigue, but her temperature did not go down in the morning unfortunately. She must stay home, but I’ve got some problem. I go to this kimono lesson on Tuesdays while she’s at school, and it happened to be the finalM lesson of the current course when the instructor hands out the completion certificate. I wanted to go, and our poor girl seemed ok despite the fever, so I called my dad, who is now retired and studying for the license for a real estate specialist (don’t ask why), for a help. Luckily he was available to look after our girl for a few hours, so I made bento for both of them so that they could eat the packed lunches while I’m gone.
Menu: Grilled salmon (marinated in shio-koji) rice, Coleslaw, Spinach omelet, Cherry tomato
Grape jelly for dessert