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.


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Hubby Bento #28 – Stewed Squid and Ume Pork Belly Wrapped Asparagus


This stewed squid is one of the easiest recipe I have tried and its sweet savoury flavour goes well with white rice. It is also often called tender squid stew. Here’s the recipe:

Stewed Squid
1 whole squid cleaned and cut into rings
2 tablespoons each of mirin, sake, sugar and shoyu
2 thin slices of ginger
some whole green peppercorns (optional)
Grated kabosu or lemon zest

Throw all the ingredients except the zest into a small heavy pot. I added some leftover soup stock and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat to let it slow simmer for 20 minutes. After its cooked, mix in some grated kabosu/ lemon zest before serving

Ume Pork Belly Wrapped Asparagus
Thin slices of Pork Belly
Ume plum paste

This recipe is really easy too. Just spread a little of ume paste on one side of the pork belly. Place 1 asparagus on 1 pork belly slice  and roll them up. Sprinke a little of salt & pepper on the outer side of the rolled pork bellies before sautéing them until the asparagus is cooked and the meat is lightly browned. Be careful ume paste is salty, so moderate the amount of salt used.

Steamed Kabocha カボチャ
Its easy to carve any pattern on the skin once its steamed.

Have a great day ahead! “^x6”

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Baby Sloth Bento

www.ongling.comI am embarrassed to confess that the animal that I thought was a slow loris for a long time is actually a sloth  ^‡^” …. So I have been giving wrong information to my little one all along. They are all equally adorable animals, slow loris, sloth, baby tarsier….big eyes.

Glad I found out the fact before I post this bento photo up, if not, it will be unimaginable embarrassment in public…haha…≥†≤”

In this bento, I made the baby sloth out of shoyu-flavoured rice, face and facial features made out of hanpen and nori cutoffs.
Other bento items  include

Pork belly wrapped Asparagus sautéed with a pinch of salt
Negi Chikura with crabstick filling
Sausage and Tomago flower
Apple chunks and edamame

Well, you can never be too old to learn from mistakes and gain new knowledge!


Totoro Lost Weight!
This morning, I found out I did not replenish the rice, only left with a small cup. I promised Tz I will make him a totoro bento today and I did… a slimmer totoro. >O< hee hee…

In this bento,
Body – sushi rice mixed with shoyu
Tummy – hanpen cut-out with a circular cookie cutter and nori for “arrow” stripes
Foot – hanpen cut-out with a small circular cookie cutter and sesame seeds for toes
Eyes – hanpen cut-out with a small circular cookie cutter and nori
nose, mouth & whiskers – nori
Umbrella – Japanese cucumber cut-out

Steamed sausages & Broccoli
Beansprouts wrapped in bacon grilled



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. 😉


Dad and Son Bentos – Friday Happy Meal 😜
Its Friday! And I get a weekend break from making 🍱! Yah! So today I made something extra special for them, some Japanese sweets (Dango 🍡 and jelly) to accompany their seafood patties sandwiches. I bet Tz will skip his sandwich and go straight to the sweets….

The seafood patties are made up of :
half a cod fish fillet, half a squid and 4 prawns, all minced.
I mixed in :
half an egg, some potato flour to bind the ingredients (you can use breadcrumbs too), 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce, 3/4 tablespoon sugar, 2 tablespoon coconut cream, 1 tablespoon of tamarind pulp, some minced coriander and basil leaves, and 2-3 green beans chopped.
And I fried them in some vegetable oil until all sides are golden crispy brown.

I added some crispy fried bacon into the sandwiches too. Tz is mad about bacon.

Have a great weekend ahead! I will catch up on my sleep……😴


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!