johbisai

Bento filler and staple: Sweet stewed haricot, navy or white beans (Ingen no nimame)

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Nimame (煮豆 にまめ), or stewed beans, are a standby item for bentos. They are usually rather sweet, though not dessert-level sweet, and serve the purpose of a hashi yasume or “chopstick rest” (see anatomy of a Japanese meal), a little something that contrasts in flavor and texture from the rest of the bento.

While it takes rather long to cook these, like most bean dishes, this is a terrific staple item. The beans keep for at least a week in the refrigerator, and freeze well in small batches too. Tuck in a spoonful in any bento for something a little sweet, a little salty, and good for you.

You can make nimame with any kind of dried beans, but here I’ve specified white or navy beans, or haricot beans, which are widely available and inexpensive. You could use cannellini beans instead.

You’ll notice that the only remotely exotic ingredient used here is soy sauce, so anyone can make this! Yes it’s still authentically Japanese. (It’s another one of my mom’s recipes.) continue reading...

Homemade furikake no. 11: Spicy radish leaves

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This furikake may not even look like furikake, since it’s wet, but it can be used in every way dry furikake can. You can keep it in the refrigerator for a week or so, or freeze it in small batches. And since it’s using radish leaves (leftover from making radish pickles for example), it’s very frugal and nutritious too. It’s a vegan variation of the first furikake recipe I posted, and just as delicious. continue reading...

Homemade furikake no. 10: Sardines and pine nuts

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I haven’t added a new furikake recipe in a long time. So, it’s about time I did. As I wrote in the first homemade furikake recipe article, the homemade kind has a lot of advantages over the storebought kind.

One of the advantages is cost, and this furikake uses a cheap yet healthy ingredient that’s available to most people, wherever they may live: Canned sardines! A can of about 4 ounces of sardines (120g) or so costs a couple of dollars or euros or whatever at most. And sardines are packed with good nutrients: Omega-3s, protein, calcium, etc.

I’ve attempted to stay away from Japanese ingredients with this one, since I occasonally get complaints from readers that they can’t get a hold of those ingredients. If you can’t get Worcestershire sauce for some reason, use steak sauce or a similar rich, brown sauce. If pine nuts (though this only uses 2 tablespoons) are beyond your means, use sesame seeds or chopped nuts of another kind.

This furikake is good on pasta as well as rice. continue reading...

Miso Tamago (Miso Marinated Eggs)

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Joining the list of delicious things to do with the humble hardboiled egg alongside soy sauce eggs and lazy easy tea eggs, are these delicately beige, utterly delicious eggs marinated in miso. They don’t have the burnished brown color of soy sauce eggs, but are just as, if not more, delicious. And they get tastier the longer you let them marinate.

They are very easy to make, if a bit messy. They last in the refrigerator for up to a week, so are a nice staple to have and eat over the course of a few days.

Good miso is expensive, so this recipe uses as little miso as possible while still doing the job. continue reading...

Bento sized mini-meatloaves

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Who doesn’t love a meatloaf? (If you eat meat, that is.) Sliced leftover meatloaf is great in sandwiches, and it’s also very nice in a bento box. Meatloaves also freeze very well, since they have a moistness to them.

While I do like to make a big meatloaf now and then, I also like to make these mini-sized meatloaves specifically for the bento freezer stash. I often reserve a couple for dinner, and wrap and freeze the rest.

You could use your own favorite meatloaf recipe for this, but here is one in case you need it. The key point here is the size, perfect for bento boxes and sandwiches. continue reading...

Vegetarian Cake Provençal With Kinako

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Throughout Provence, especially in the colder months, you often encounter stalls at the markets selling golden loaves of goodness called Cake Provençal. They look just like pound cakes or what we might call in the U.S. ‘quickbreads’, but they are made with savory ingredients. They usually contain cheese, olives, sautéed vegetables, ham, sausage, herbs and so on. They are great at dinnertime,for picnics and of course (since it’s on this site) for not-Japanese bento lunches. Here are some that were on sale at a market in Nyons (in the Drôme Provençal) last December.

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They are made exactly like sweet cakes, but this being the land of olive oil they use that instead of butter. My version here is a bit light on the olive oil (some cakes that I’ve tried are almost dripping with oil). I’ve added a very non-Provencal ingredient, kinako (toasted soy bean flour), to add nuttiness as well as protein. You could use chickpea flour instead of the kinako. A piece or two, or three or four, of this cake makes a great vegetarian bento, on its own or with a salad or raw vegetables packed along. You can also make very interesting sandwiches with it. (Try Boursin cream cheese with watercress.)

I made mine in a square baking or brownie pan instead of the traditional loaf pan, since I like to cut it into little squares, but you could make it in a loaf pan too. It freezes very well, which makes it a great ‘freezer stash’ item. continue reading...

Red Peppers With Maple Syrup and Chili

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This little side dish or filler is related to the Cooked To Death Peppers, but is a lot faster to make and less oily. It doesn’t keep as long as Cooked To Death, but will be ok for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. It’s a nice bright color and flavor accent in a bento. continue reading...

Homemade furikake no. 6: Gomashio, sesame salt

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[Updated: Originally published back in January 2008, this is one of the most popular articles on Just Bento. I’ve updated it with a much more hands-free oven method for making gomashio.]

Gomashio (ごま塩), sesame salt, is the most basic furikake. This is the best way I know to make homemade gomashio, where each sesame seed is coated with its own fine salt mantle. continue reading...