Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Fall themed bento

Fall Themed Bento

I bought a new bento box that matches my Usagi chopsticks. I think it fits perfectly with a nice fall themed bento: salmon, rice with pumpkin seeds, and a shiitake-carrot udon soup with a pomegranate, raspberry, and green tea Jello. Sounds awesome right? Looks and tastes even better.

But I must say: I am not a chef. In fact, when I even talk about cooking, my family runs for cover and sets the smoke alarms. I can’t cook, but somehow Japanese food seems to turn out alright. When I put together a bento, it’s generally just Japanese inspired. Afterall, I’m cooking on a college graduate budget here. And I can’t say I cook traditional bento either: I don’t have time to make myself such a spectacular lunch in the morning. Usually, I just make it as a dinner and display it as prettily as I can in a bento style. Alright, now enough talk, it’s food time!

1. The Salmon
This is a personal favorite of mine. Whenever I cook Salmon, there’s only two seasonings I put on it: Soy Sauce and Italian seasoning. Yep, that’s right.  My brother’s Japanese fiance loved it when I made it for her, and that should be approval enough. Pretty simple: Set the oven to 375, lay the salmon (I use 1 filet, because I only cook for myself) out on the baking sheet, and coat it on both sides with soy sauce and a liberal shake of Italian seasoning. Cook for 6 minutes, and it

2. Pumkin Seed Rice
I washed and rinsed the rice (I use Botan Calrose Rice), then soaked it for an hour or so, as per JustBento. Then, I just popped it in my rice cooker. Once cooled, I balled it up with pumpkin seeds and cut a face out of nori (seaweed) to make a jack o’lantern. I wet my hands and shake the excess before I form the ball. The moisture does make the pumpkin seeds a little slimy, so I had to push a couple that fell off the sides into the middle of the ball.

3. The Udon Soup
I had a package of instant Udon noodle mix, much like it’s Ramen counterparts. I made it as per the directions. I also quartered and sauteed some Shiitake mushrooms for the soup and to tuck around the salmon. The carrots were cut using special cutters (much like mini cookie cutters) to cut the sliced carrots into star/leaf shapes.
4. V8 V-Fusion (Raspberry and Green Tea) Jello with Pomegranate Seeds
I wanted to do a dessert with pomegranate, my favorite fall fruit, and thought embedding it in Jello would be a good idea. The only problem is, I hate Jello. But, then I found a box of Jello’s “Mixchief,” which allows for the maker to use any juice. I picked the aforementioned V8 V-Fusion: a pretty red color, raspberry to mesh well with the pomegranate, and green tea. So much better, taste and nutrition wise, than straight Jello. I made it as directed, and poured it over pomegranate seeds in a small dish. To tip it out, I had to let it the dish itself soak for a few minutes in hot water and edge it out with a butter knife.

 

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やった!Yatta!

Posted: September 22, 2011 in food
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bento box

bento box

Success! I completed my first bento box to take with me to work this morning. It’s a fairly simple one, but definitely delicious. It contains salmon furikake over a bed of rice, a sliced egg, sugar snap peas, and raspberries. I wanted to make the tamagoyaki for this, but I was strapped for time in the morning.

Last night, I created the salmon furikake using the recipe from the Just Bento blog. Basically, I steamed salmon in a frying pan with sake, flaked it down, put it back in the pan with some seasonings, and cooked out as much moisture as possible. It’s delicious on it’s own, though a bit on the salty side, which makes it ideal over rice. The salmon furikake keeps well in the fridge. Before I went to bed, I washed the rice and left it to soak overnight.

Bunny Chopsticks

Bunny Chopsticks, かわいい ね?

In the morning, I put the rice cooker on while I took a shower, and by the time I was dressed and ready for breakfast, the rice had finished. I pulled it out and laid it flat on a dish to cool before packing it. I filled the room temperature rice into a little over half of the box, and placed a cupcake paper into the opposite corner. I layered the cold furikake over the rice and added the snap peas and raspberries into their respective spots. I found hard boiled eggs in the fridge from my mom’s potato salad the other night, so I sliced one of those up and striped it down the middle.

I got funny looks at work for eating with my awesome うさぎ (bunny) chopsticks, but it didn’t feel right to eat a bento box with a fork. It was worth it, to say the least. おいしい!

Two out of three ain’t bad

Posted: September 18, 2011 in food
Tags: , ,

For my day off, I decided to try out a few staple Japanese recipes. The onigiri was easier than I thought, the tamagoyaki was a little rough, but still successful, and the mochi was a total mess. Haha. Here’s what happened.

Onigiri

Onigiri

1. おにぎり:onigiri

For these onigiri, I stuffed them with edamame and soy sauce soaked tuna. They were actually pretty easy to make, so long as you keep your hands ridiculously clean and damp. If you properly rinse and soak the rice before cooking, it sticks so easily to everything. And I mean, everything. I was pulling pieces of rice off my shirt at one point that seemed to be stuck to me with superglue.

I was dumbfounded at how much salt I was told to use in this recipe. Every time I was supposed to mold rice, the recipe said to dampen my hands and sprinkle salt onto them. I also had to put soy sauce in the tuna and salt the edamame for the filling, as well as salt the rice on top after I finished. As crazy as it is, they weren’t salty at all, and I probably could have used more. So for those of you venturing into this, yes, it seems like a lot of salt, but it’s not!

Mochi and Strawberries

Mochi and Strawberries

2. もちといちご: mochi and strawberry

This was probably the simplest recipe out of the three, and yet I managed to botch this one. While, yes, the picture looks pretty, the mochi didn’t set up completely right, so they’re a little mushy. A couple turned out ok, but I think what went wrong is that I didn’t have the mochi “batter” in the microwave long enough.

I’ll be trying these again when Mayumi gets here next week. She might be able to help me with the consistency a little more, and perhaps try it with fruit punch. I’m not completely sure how that works, but we’ll see. I’d also like to make dango eventually, I just need to get ahold of the flavorings for it. Mmm macha. I did stumble upon a black sesame seed cookie recipe with macha icing that I am also itching to try.

Tamagayoki

Tamagoyaki

3. たまごやき: tamagoyaki

One word for this, おいしい (delicious)! Pretty much, it’s a sweet and salty omelet, and it’s straight up awesome. The technique to making it is a little hard to get, but as long as you cook it, it’ll taste the same. Literally, the egg mixture (with soy sauce, mirin, and sugar) is spooned a little at a time into a pan and rolled once it cooks solid. The process repeats until there’s no more mixture, and what’s left is a layered, rolled egg.

My two year old niece even loved this, and I could eat this for breakfast every day, or with rice for dinner. As far as egg dishes, next I’d like to try “omurice,” a featured dish in the Japanese drama Tumbling. Pretty much, it’s a combination of rice and an omelet.

So that’s that, my first adventure with Japanese cooking. Is it sad that I feel far more confident cooking Japanese food than American? For someone who can’t cook, these dishes came out really well, except the mochi, but that should be an easy fix. All recipes that I tried here were from JustHungry.com.

べんと Bento!

Posted: September 17, 2011 in food
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My ballerina Hello Kitty bento box

My ballerina Hello Kitty bento box, soon to be filled with awesomeness

I’ve always been intrigued by the awesomeness of bento ever since I was introduced to this Japanese concept years ago in my Japanese design history class. It’s not just about a convenient way to carry your lunch; it’s straight up a genuine art form. Now, I know there’s a difference between lunch bento and art bento, but I’ve never seen a bento that didn’t look gorgeous. With this post, I’m beginning a new category in the cloud: Food.

I love stumbling upon things. Don’t you? My most recent stumble-upon is a bento blog, a very nifty one, called “Just Bento,” in which the author writes along side another blog called “Just Hungry.” Both are truly fascinating, and I will link to them a bit later. It started when I ventured a trip to Wegman’s, which is an epic supermarket. I could live in their international food aisle (and quite possibly their tea and candy sections), with the rows and rows of Japanese goodness that line the shelves. One of my many purchases from that aisle was a box of もちこ (mochiko, now that I know how to write in hiragana, I’m going to, a lot). It’s a rice flour used to make mochi and dango, pretty much two things I’ve been itching to try myself for quite awhile.

Anyway, I asked my brother’s fiance, Mayumi, if she knew of any good mochi recipes, and she told me about mochi in fruit punch. Curious, I do what every curious person does, I Googled it. I came across a fantastic recipe for mochi sushi, which was featured on the aforementioned blog. Then, I got sucked into reading about bento boxes and realized that I could start making them myself right now. So why not? It’ll be less expensive than always buying lunch at work, it’ll definitely be healthier, and it’ll be fun to do.

So tomorrow, the adventure begins. I’m going to make おにぎり (onigiri) stuffed with edamame, たまごやき(tamagoyaki, a Japanese egg dish), and those mochi sushi. Then I will attempt to assemble a lunch box for work on Sunday. I’m looking forward to it, and can’t wait to post my success (and possible failures). いただきます (itadakimasu)!

Just Bento & Just Hungry
The fruit and mochi sushi recipe can be found here.