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.