spring

Sweet, sour and salty 'instant' radish pickles

pickledradish2.jpg

[While I’m still getting back up to speed, please enjoy this recipe for ‘instant’ pickled radishes, great in any bento or in a salad. Originally published in May 2009. It’s kind of funny to re-read this post and realize we were still waffling about buying a house in France or not. I guess we did, after all!]

While radishes are available year-round, spring seems to be the perfect time to enjoy their crisp, peppery crunchiness. They are also really pretty. I love them just as-is, perhaps with a little salt, or sliced up in salads, but I’ve also been playing around with various formulas to make instant pickles or ichiyazuke (一夜漬け, or ‘overnight pickles’) with them. Here’s one result that’s sweet, salty, sour and peppery - a great bento box side dish. continue reading...

A very Japanese spring vegetable bento

spring-sansai-bento-sm.jpg

Here’s a very Japanese, vegetable based spring bento from a few weeks ago. continue reading...

Spring Bento Challenge?

Just wanting to see if anyone is interested in doing a Spring themed Bento?
This forum looked a little dusty so I thought I would ask.

How would the challenge work?

Use local spring produce available in your area. Explore your local markets, farms, and stores and see what they have in season. Experiemnt. Try a fruit or veggie you've never seen before.

How long do you have?
Until the End of April, Beginning of May

What about posting a picture of my Bento?
Please Do! It's not required (though a recipe including the new fruit or veggie you found would be nice) continue reading...

Bento filler: Raw Asparagus, Radish and Parmesan salad

rawasparagus_radish_cheese_salad.jpg

I had never tried raw asparagus until just a couple of weeks ago. I just assumed that aspagarus needed to be cooked. But if you have fresh, tender asparagus, and slice it very thin, it actually makes an excellent and unusual salad. The texture stays crisp for a few hours after making, so it’s a great springtime bento side dish. It’s paired with thinly sliced radish which adds more crunch, color and a spicy kick, plus small chunks of Parmesan cheese for saltiness and body. A very simple lemon dressing brings it all together. continue reading...

Bento no. 72: Sakura Love Kyoto-style Barazushi Bento

bento_72a_500.jpg

Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 635 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 15 minutes the night before; 15 minutes in the morning

Type: Traditional Japanese with a twist continue reading...

Homemade Sakura Denbu - sweet, pink, fluffy fish flakes

sakura_denbu1.jpg

Sakura denbu (桜田麩) is a sweet-salty, fluffy pink flaked fish condiment - a sort of fish furikake - that is used in sushi rolls as well as to decorate various rice dishes. It’s used quite often in spring, because of its dainty appearance and cherry-blossom pink color. (Sakura means cherry blossom or tree.) You can buy it in little packets at any Japanese grocery store, but commercial sakura denbu usually has MSG and various preservatives in it. Plus, it’s rather expensive at my local Japanese grocery store. So, here’s a homemade sakura denbu recipe to use in your springtime bentos.

It’s not that difficult to make, but there are some key points to pay attention to to produce the desired fluffy texture, so I’ve included a lot of procedural photos. Make sure to choose a fairly low-fat white fish for this; a high fat fish like salmon will clump up and not produce the fine flakes that are characteristic of denbu. continue reading...

Spring Pasta and Chickpea Salad and Bento-Friendly Pasta Salad Basics

Spring pasta salad bento

We are now entering pasta salad season, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere. Easy to assemble and delicious at room temperature, at first glance you might think that pasta salads are perfect in bentos. There are a few things to watch out for though, in order to make sure that your salad is as safe as it is delicious at lunchtime. I also have a super-easy Chickpea and Pasta Salad recipe that is very bento-friendly; it’s vegetarian (easily converted to being vegan), to fit in with the theme for this month. continue reading...

Bento no. 65: Pink, Green and Yellow Spring Bento

bento_65a_500.jpg

Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 460 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 10 minutes the night before; 15 minutes in the morning

Type: Traditional Japanese continue reading...