Little thrills, little trips, little ideas


Hubby Bento #29 – On the move lunch and its not sandwich
Last week was very hectic for my husband, back to back site meetings without time to sit down for a meal. He’s an architect, running to several sites within a day. Some evenings, he would come back without having eaten lunch. I believe many of us experienced that many a times in our work life. Therefore, I insisted he take his lunchbox along and eat in the car if necessary. He was glad he did. I prepared 2 types of onigiris and left-over fried chicken for him. First onigiri is saba soboro rice ball, I used the recipe from Japan’s famous chef, Harumi Kurihara. She made saba soboro (鯖そぼろ) served on top of a bowl of rice. It was very easy to make and I adapted it into a rice ball. The second onigiri is chestnut rice ball. Since chestnuts are in season now in autumn, I was able to get raw Japanese chestnuts from the supermarket, toasted them and mixed with rice. Two very easy, yet tasty recipes. Below is the recipe for making 1 Saba soboro onigiri

1 fillet from 1/2 mackerel
1/4 onion (minced)
2 shiitake mushrooms (can use dried ones too, just soak for 30 minutes until soft and squeeze excess water out from the mushroom lightly)
1 cm ginger minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp sake
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce

Use a tablespoon to scoop or scrap the mackerel flesh from the skin from head to tail avoiding the centre portion where the bones are. Remove the mushroom stems and roughly mince them. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium fire, add in the ginger and the mackerel. Stir fry the mackerel until the flesh turns flaky, add the shiitake mushrooms and onions. Add the sake, sugar, soy sauce and mirin. Keep stirring until there is a little liquid left in the pan. Cook some rice and cool it down before mixing with the saba soboro. Do not mix in too much liquid from the soboro sauce or the rice ball will be wet and soggy to form. Wrap the mixed rice with a piece of cellophane wrap and start shaping it without getting your hands dirty. Since the soboro has salt in it, I did not add salt into the rice, however I added a little when mixing it with the chestnuts. It was a nice sweet nutty contrast to the savoury saba soboro onigiri.



Hubby Bento #27
Over the weekend, I bought some freshly made squid mentaiko chinmi during a Kyushu fair in the Japanese supermarket, Isetan. it hosts Japanese food fairs regularly showcasing specialties from different preferture. Isetan is a very well known departmental store brand in Japan and in many parts of the Asia alongside its established counterparts like Takashiyama, Mitsukoshi, OIOI, Tokyu store,  Hankyu, Seibu,etc. I am a big fan of Isetan supermarket! “>x<”

Chinmi (珍味
) is a Japanese term meaning literally “rare taste”, but more appropriately “delicacy“. They are local cuisines that have fallen out of popularity or those cuisines that are peculiar to a certain area. Many involved pickled seafood. The three best known chinmi of Japan are salt-pickled sea urchin roe (uni), salt-pickled mullet roe (karasumi) and pickled sea cucumber innards. (konowata)

In this bento, there were rice balls mixed with steamed sweet potato (satsuma imo) and minced shiso leaf & myoga, tomago-yaki and shishito peppers wrapped in pork belly grilled with seasalt (shio-yaki)

All the foods prepared were placed in this beautiful megawappa bento box from Yoshinobu Shibata Shoten, Japan.  There is a little writeup about the cedar wood artisan on my previous post Hubby Bento #25 . Do check it out. 😉


Hubby Bento #24 – Oboro Konbu Rice Balls
I was able to buy a few Japanese ingredients during my Tokyo trip, mostly dried stuff like this super white oboro konbu おぼろ昆布 (from Hokkaido) which I used in this bento to wrap rice balls. It has very delicate texture like extra fine tissue fabric and seasoned with a lovely light vinegar flavour. In Kanazawa, I have seen sashimi wrapped in this konbu too. Since this konbu is made up of thinly shredded konbu, its not very easy to handle by hand, it takes a little practice.

For this bento, I have prepared shiitake mushroom rice mixed with abalone pieces for the rice balls. The side dishes are sautéed white mushroom with urap urap dressing (Indonesia javanese dressing), crispy chicken thighs with Japanese mixed spice and rbi (prawn)  tomago-yaki.

Shiitake Mushroom Rice Balls with Oboro Konbu
Ingredients : 3/4 cup rice, 4-5 pieces of dried shiitake mushroom soaked overnight or soaked until soft (do not discard the soaked water), a small handful of Japanese dried anchovies (Niboshi にぼし), 1 teaspoon of small azuki red beans, 1-2 tablespoons shoyu, oboro konbu, thinly chopped abalone meat (you can use clam meat too)

Rinse the rice well before cooking. In the rice cooker, throw in all of the ingredients including the soaked mushroom liquid. Top up the water level with just water if necessary. Its the normal water level for cooking rice. Once cooked, discard the anchovies and set aside the shiitake mushrooms before making the rice balls. You can either slice the mushroom into thin pieces or leave it out and use as a side dish like I did. (I simmered the mushrooms in shoyu, mirin, sake and a little water for about 8-10 minutes.)

Cool down the cooked rice, mix in the abalone meat before shaping them with cellophane wrap and your hands. Gently take out 2 long or 3 short pieces of the oboro konbu and wrap them around the rice balls. I have tied shredded pandan leaf string around the rice balls for my husband to easily pick them up with hands.

Sauteed white mushroom with urap urap dressing
Ingredients : 5-6 White mushrooms, a pinch of salt, 1-2 tablespoons sake
Cut the white mushroom into thin slices. Saute them in a little oil, salt and sake until all the liquids are being absorbed back into the mushrooms. Toss them with urap urap dressing. You can see the dressing recipe at my previous post Hubby Bento #22

Crispy Chicken Thigh with Japanese Spice Mix
Marinate Ingredients: 1 piece of chicken thigh cut into nugget sizes, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, 1 1/2 tablespoon shoyu, 1 teaspoon mirin and 1 tablespoon sake.
Other ingredients : 1/3 cup rice flour, Japanese spice mix Shichimi (七味唐辛子, seven-flavor chili pepper) or Chinese 5 spice mix
Marinate the chicken overnight.
Mix the rice flour sprinkle with some salt and the spice mix. Adjust the amount of spice mix according to your liking. Put the flour mix and the chicken pieces into a zip lock bag. Toss it to evenly coat the meat pieces.
Pan fry them in a pan with a little oil until both sides are golden brown and crispy.

Ebi Tomago-yaki
Ingredients: 1 egg, 1 1/2 tablespoon chicken stock, a sprinkle of salt and sugar, a prawn chopped into small pieces.
Mix all the ingredients well and spread thinly in a frying pan and cook over low heat.  Before the egg starts to set, gently roll it up using either a pair of chopsticks or and a spatula. Let the rolled-up tomago-yaki cook for a little longer to ensure its fully cooked inside.

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Hubby Bento #21 – Couleurs des fleurs d’été

Pardon my French (for any grammar mistake if any, a little rusty…>ω<) for the title of this bento.

I did not have time to do grocery early this week, however managed to make my husband lunch box with left-over ingredients in the fridge, which include a small portion of cabbage (unused from a steamboat dinner we had few days ago), a small capsicum (sitting in the corner of my vegetable compartment for a week already), a frozen lamb steak, half cut frozen squid and 1 fish cake (both left overs from the steamboat too). This is the advantage of making bento for 1 or 2 persons as the portions used are small so its a good way to clear out the remaining food in the fridge.

In this box, I prepared:

Cabbage carrot kinpira
Recipe is similar to lotus root kinpira, just replace the lotus root with chopped cabbage.

Fried Capsicum with lentil quinoa stuffing
I made multiple cuts into one end of the capsicum’s skin about 3/4 way so it will open like the petals of a flower with the other end still intact. The lentil quinoa stuffing recipe is similar to the lentil quinoa patties I made previously. I filled up the capsicum with the stuffing and fried the capsicum in vegetable oil over medium fire until the stuffing turned light golden brown, probably about 4-5 minutes. Pretty quick.

Grilled Lamb steak with rosemary
I simply seasoned the lamb steak (about 150 grams, thick and round) with some salt and pepper, put a few springs of rosemary and 2 crushed garlic on a hot pan with little oil and placed the lamb on top of the herbs. Cooked each side for about 4 minutes on medium high heat. Its medium-done, light pink on the inside.

Squid, sujiko salmon roe & mashed potato mayonnaise salad
This is pretty easy. I made some semi-mashed potato salad with mayonnaise, mirin and sour cream. Mixed in some steamed chopped squid, 1/2 teaspoon of salmon roe for salty crunchy texture and carrot pieces from the kinpira.

Mixed Onigiri rice with mashed purple sweet potato

Tomago-yaki and fish cake skewer

I tried to make the colours of the food “POP”  to compensate for the “old” ingredients used. Anyway, my husband did not notice a single difference since he never check what foods in the fridge except for his fruits and candies.

I apologise if my recipes here are a little scrappy as I am really trying to keep myself awake now writing this post, its past midnight here. Too sleepy….zzzzzzz.

Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy this post. Good night from my side of the world…..

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Hubby Bento #20 – Mini rice burgers
I woke up today craving for rice burgers with yakiniku beef, especially those from MOS burgers. So I made a variation of it for lunch. They turned out to be quite cute and tasty.

Shitaake Mushroom Rice Burgers (make about 8 to 9 mini ones)
Ingredients for rice burgers: 4 thinly sliced shitaake mushrooms, 1 cup rice, 4 to 5 dried scallops, 1 to 2 tablespoons shoyu, 1 small piece of kelp
Ingredients for beef yakiniku: 8 to 9 Thin slices of beef , 1/4 cup yakiniku sauce, 2 tablespoons sake, nira (Japanese chives), 1 to 2 sliced ginger, salt & pepper, chopped shiso leaf, 2 tablespoons of mirin

Simply cook the rice with all the ingredients in the rice-cooker, remove the kelp halfway through the cooking. Once the rice is cooked, stir in the mirin and cool it down. Once its cooled, mix in the chopped shiso leaf.

For yakiniku beef, use a small clay pot or a deep saucepan, heat a little cooking oil, add in sliced beef, and panfry  for a minute, mix in the rest of the sauce ingredients and let it simmer for 5 minutes or until the beef slices are cooked. Throw in the nira at the last minute. Turn off the fire, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the beef to soak in the flavors of the sauce.

Use any semi-circle mould you can find (similar to those for making cake-pops, for example. I used a circular rice mould), place a piece of cellophane wrap into the mould and fill it up with the rice and shape it. You need 2 semi circle rice patties for 1 burger. Sandwich 1 or 2 pieces of the beef with nira between the rice  patties. You can use any cocktail bamboo picks to hold them together.

Okra & Nattō Salad (Simple thai style)
Ingredients : 5-6 okras (lady fingers), 1 box of Nattō (なっとう or 納豆) (a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans), sliced boiled octopus (tako), 1 teaspoon of palm sugar (or canned sugar), 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons of fish sauce, juice of 1 lime.

Some Nattō comes with its own sauce. Use the sauce in this salad too. Cut the okras into small pieces. Steam the okras in a little salt until its just cooked yet the texture is still crunchy. If you use microwave, it take about 1 1/2 minute to cook. Mix in the natto, tako and sauce ingredients. Adjust the level of saltiness, sweetness and citrus taste of the sauce according to your liking. You can add in some cut chillies too. Chill it in the fridge for a while.

Nasu & Negi Chikuwa Grilled Roll
Ingredients: Thinly sliced eggplant (Nasu), 1 piece of Negi Chikuwa (Japanese grilled fish cake), 1 piece of carrot, sweet miso paste.

Cut the carrot into a size that can easily fit into the hollow section of the fish cake. Cook the carrot until its slightly soft yet firm. Push the carrot into the fish cake. Rub some sweet miso paste all over the fish cake. I used spicy fermented beef paste I bought from Ishigaki, Okinawa. Arrange the thinly sliced eggplant in a overlapping manner on a piece cellophane wrap. Place the fish cake on the eggplant layers. Use the wrap to help you roll the eggplant over the fishcake. You can also use some cooking strings to tie the roll together before grilling it. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper and grill it in a little oil until all the sides of the eggplant are lightly browned.

Home-made Daifuku wrapped in bamboo leaf
Ingredients: Gyuuhi, ready-made red bean paste from stores.
Gyuuhi is a type of sweet rice flour mochi-like dough. It is very easy to make them.
Ingredients: 75g shiratamako rice flour, 115ml water, 65g white sugar, lots of potato or corn starch

Put the flour into a microwave friendly bowl, slowly mix in the water until the paste is smooth with no lumps. Add in the sugar and mix it well. Cover the bowl with a piece of cellophane wrap and cook it in the microwave on high setting for 1 minute. Take it out and mix it very well before putting it into the microwave again for another 1 1/2 minutes. Make sure both times, the bowl is covered. Once its done, mix it well one more time for smoothness. Each time you mix, wet your mixing fork or spoon, it can get very sticky.  Flour a work surface and your hands generously, spread the gyuuhi over the surface to let it cool completely. Once its cool, you can start moulding small pieces of the gyuuhi into round flat circle and put a small spoonful of red bean paste in the centre and wrap it up and hand roll it into a ball. Remember, to flour your hands. For the daifuku here, I coated it with soy bean flour (warabi flour, a type of bracken starch)



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Hubby Bento #19 – Ssamjang Grilled Beef Sushi
The summer heat is definitely sizzling up these days. Been hoping for some rain to cool the days…I am drinking a glass of red wine while writing this post, is like being in the sauna in split seconds!  So when I came across pomelo in the supermarket yesterday, I just got to get it to make a cool salad for my family today. I made some spicy ssamjang beef to fire up the summer heat too. What would be nice with this bento will be a cool lemongrass mint ice tea…. yum….

Ssamjang Grilled Beef Sushi
Ssamjang paste is a Korean spicy mixed paste of gochujang (red chili pepper paste), dwenjang ( fermented soybean paste) and other seasonings. Its often used for grilling or roasting meat.

Ingredients : Nice marbled beef slices, spring onion, nori and vinegared rice
Ssamjang marinate ingredients (for quantity of 6 slices of bite size beef): 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons Ssamjang paste, 1 1/2 tablespoon of mirin, 1 tablespoon of sake, a little squeeze of sweet rice malt, 1 teaspoon of shoyu, pepper.

Mix the marinate ingredients well and coat the beef slices evenly with the paste. Leave it for 10-15 minutes and then grill the beef pieces according to your doneness liking. Since its to be packed into bento, I cooked mine just well done about 3-4 minutes over high fire, its still tender since I chose marbled beef. The fat contents in the beef slices keep them juicy and tender.

Thinly slice spring onion or scallions diagonally lengthwise. Shape the vinegared rice either with your hands or with a sushi mould. Place 1 piece of beef and 1 piece of scallion, wrap with a thin strip of nori.

Pomelo Scallop Somen Salad
Ingredients: 1 slice of pomelo peeled and tear into pieces, 2 to 3 pieces of fresh scallop, 1 bunch of somen. (Sōmen 素麺 are very thin—less than 1.3 mm in diameter—white Japanese noodles made of wheat flour. The noodles are usually served cold. Wikipedia definition), a little sesame oil, fruity olive oil, 1 tsp shoyu sauce, 1/4 teaspoon yuzu sauce, 1 tsp mirin.

The somen is salty before cooking. They are nicely separated into bunches individually wrapped with a piece of paper. They are very delicate so it takes only 2 minutes to cook them in hot water. Quickly dip them in cold water once cooked to retain the springiness and slight saltiness in the noodles. Grill the scallops with a little salt and butter until its just done, about 2 minutes on each sides over medium fire.

Mix the sauce ingredients. Assemble the rest of the ingredients together in to bowl and toss with the sauce.

Kinpira Daikon 
I love this dish because the daikon (white radish) slices soak up the sauce very well and they are very tasty and easy to make. I made some 2 days ago, kept in the fridge and the flavours are now intense today.

1 tsp vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 200g daikon (peeled and thinly sliced), 1 carrot (peeled and thinly cut into strips)
1 tbsp sake, 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp soya sauce , 1 1/2 tbsp mirin, some toasted white sesame seeds

Parboil the daikon slices with a little salt in hot water for about 5 minutes to remove any bitterness. However, if you get Japanese daikon, they don’t taste bitter at all. Heat the oils in a frying pan on high heat for a minute or so. Lower the heat down to medium-high, add the daikon slices and carrots and fry for about 10 minutes. Add in the sake over the vegetables, stir and fry for about 1 minute, then  add in the soya sauce and mirin, stir and fry for a few minutes.
Garnish it with the toasted sesame seeds.

Imo Dango (Fresh Sweet Potato wagashi bought from supermarket)

Tomago-yaki (check the recipe in my previous post

Stay Calm and Keep Cool this Summer!


Hubby Bento #18 – A message in a box

I left a little message in my husband’s bento today, hoping he will understand what I am asking for, a vacation. However, the irony was he did not understand it and texted a message back to me with the comment ” I did not order a maid with my bento…” !!! (−_−#) Men….is he avoiding the obvious message? ψ(`∇´)ψ

Well, I went ahead and booked us a holiday anyway. Since he does not understand the message clearly, I will show him the air tickets. ☆〜(ゝ。∂)

Hubby Bento 18 message

The bento today is filled with seafood goodies on top on simple vinegar sushi rice. Its similar to a chirashi sushi box but due to the humidity in my country, raw seafood in bento is not impossible if it’s eaten a few hours later at room temperature. I chose to use a combination of cooked seafood for this bento:

• snow crab meat • tako octopus leg • scallops • prawns • clams • avocado • kyuri • tomago • ogura sakura denbu • radish

The preparation for this bento is fast since all I need to do is to steam or grill the seafood but it’s still very tasty.

Hubby Bento 18




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Hubby Bento #17
I love myoga ginger (young ginger buds, 茗荷). They are very popular in summer in Japan. Pretty like a flower bud with its dusty peachy pink shade and a mild sweet crunch to its texture. I bought a piece of Hokke fish too from Hokkaido food fair in the supermarket. It comes marinated in shio (salt).

Wrapped Hotate Meshi Temari Sushi
3/4 cup rice, 4 to 5  pieces of Hokkaido Hotate (or dried scallop), 1 piece of ginger, 6 to 8 dried anchovies, 1 prawn, 2 pieces of cabbage leaves, umeboshi paste.

Cook the rice with all the ingredients in the rice cooker. Butterfly cut the prawn and sear it with a little salt. Press it down with a spatula to prevent it from curling up. Steam the cabbage leaves on top of the cooking rice until its soft. Place the prawn flat on a cellophane wrap with half a piece of shiso leaf (optional). Top with some of the cooked rice. Wrap the ingredients up and twist the end of the wrap to form the rice into a ball. Use the same method for wrapping the rice in the cabbage with little of the umeboshi paste.

Myoga & Okra Pork Rolls
Miso ginger paste -1 tablespoon white miso, 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger, 1 teaspoon miring, 1 teaspoon sake, a little rice malt syrup, thinly sliced pork belly , okra (lady fingers), Myoga, salt and pepper

Mix the ingredients for the paste. Marinate the pork belly in a little salt and pepper. Slice the myoga and okras into halves and sandwich some of the paste in between each of them. Gently roll and wrap the individual myoga and okras up with a piece of pork belly each. Sear them in a little oil in a pan until all sides of the pork is cooked for about 5 minutes. The okras should be soft too.

Yaki Hokke (焼きホッケ) & Tomago-yaki 
Since the hokke fish came ship-marinated, I just grilled it over low-medium fire until its cooked, it took about 20-25 mins. The tomago-yaki mix are 2 eggs, 1/4 cup chicken stock, a little squeeze of rice malt, 1 teaspoon of mirin and sake each. Cook over low fire making thin layer each time for about 3 times. Roll up the each egg layer when its about to set before adding on another thin layer.  Repeat this action until your desired tomago-yaki size.

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Husband Bento #14 – Tako Meshi
Today’s bento theme is seafood & vegetable. Trying to cut down my husband red meat intake. I bought some beautiful boiled octopus (tako) yesterday. The boiled octopus is already savoury and by adding it to the rice, it releases wonderful umami flavour to the grains.

Box 1 : Tako Meshi
You can easily find many tako meshi recipes on the web.
Ingredients: 2 cups washed rice, 1 boiled octopus/tako (about 150g) sliced, dried anchovies, julienned ginger (1 knob), 2 tablespoons mirin, 1 tablespoon sake, 1-2 tablespoons light shoyu, 1 piece of kelp (about 8-10 cm), shiso leaf.

Simply place all the ingredients into the rice cooker and cook. Put the anchovies and kelp on the surface, so you can easily remove them later after the rice is cooked. Mix gently and service with some shiso leaves toppings.

Box 2:
Panfried Inari (tofu skin)
Ingredients : 1 Inari skin , mashed cooked yam, cooked prawn, corn and sake

Inari has a sweet taste, by adding earthy yam and the prawn and juicy corn will bring about a nice contrast of flavours. Gently invert the inari skin inside out, exposing the rough texture. Fill the pouch with a mixture of the rest of the ingredients. Heat a little oil in a pan and pan-fry on all sides until lightly crisp. You can add a little sea salt to the filling.

Simmered vegetables
I used choy sum vegetable here. Simply simmer for 1-2 mins in chicken stock.

Crispy Kisu – see recipe on Hubby Bento #3

Kinpira Renkon  – see recipe on Hubby Bento #10


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Hubby Bento #11 – His & Her Open Grilled Vegetables Sandwiches

His & Her  Sandwich

I fell in love with grilled vegetables sandwich recently during my no meat diet last month. They are packed with enough wonderful  flavours to excite my crazy tastebuds. (≥ω≤∴”⊃

So today I tried making them for myself and for my husband’s bento.  There are so many vegetarian ingredients to choose from to put into this sandwich, but the one single ingredient that stood out on my list is Gorgonzola cheese. I know its not a vegetable, but it goes very well with them! For this sandwich, I picked vegetables that go best with this cheese and sour dough bread:

Grill with a little salt for 4 minutes on each side and brush a little balsamic vinegar on both sides and grill for 1 minute

Portobello Mushroom
Slice and grill with a little salt, cracked pepper and balsamic vinegar until cooked.

Gorgonzola Dolce & Semi dried tomatoes
Melt the cheese and release the tomatoes flavour on the grilled zucchini slices in the oven for a minute

Sautéed onions with cherry port sauce (left-over from Hubby Bento #9)

Curly lettuce


I made some Marmite wings too for my husband because he needs MEAT in his meal. The marmite wings are pretty easy to make:

10-12 Marmite wings

Marinate Ingredients
1 knob of Grated ginger, 3 to 4 garlic grated, 2 tablespoons marmite, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 to 2 tablespoons sake, 1-2 tablespoons mirin, salt and pepper,

For Frying ingredients
Equal parts of rice flour and cake four

Marinate the wings overnight.  The next day, coat the wings lightly in the mixed flour. Heat enough oil and fry the wings until golden brown.

Here’s a little amateurish doodle of the sandwich last night for ideas. I have not drawn for more than a decade, so I borrowed my older son’s pencils to try. It was fun and meditative. (=^x^=)