Little thrills, little trips, little ideas


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. 😉

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Hubby Bento #13
Today on the bento menu are :

Hotate Anchovies Onigiri mixed with Basil leaves
Ingredients : Rice, dried anchovies, dried scallops, fresh basil
This is very simple to make. Cook 1 cup of white rice in a rice cooker together with a small handful of dried anchovies and 4 to 5 dried scallops (I used Hokkaido scallops or hotate). The anchovies and dried scallops will make a nice savoury stock for the rice. You can remove the anchovies after the rice is cooked, break the cooked scallops into smaller bits with a fork and mix evenly into the rice with  in a little sea salt (optional). Cool down the rice and mix with a handful of freshly chopped basil leaves. Roll them into balls.

Chicken Yakitori
Ingredients : 1 Chicken breast, Shiso leaves, ume paste (Japanese plum), seaweed paste, celery strips
Butterfly the chicken breast and pound it down with a rolling pin or any other tools to achieve an even thickness throughout. Place the breast on  a cellophane wrap. Spread 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of seaweed paste on the breast and lay enough shiso leaves to cover the surface. Spread some ume paste. Ume paste can be very salty  so be cautious of the quantity. I used half of a whole honey ume. This honey ume is sweet and salty at the same time. The skin of the ume can be easily removed to expose the flesh (i.e. the paste). Place a few pieces of celery strips. Carefully roll the chicken breast up using the cellophane wrap and twist at both ends of the wrap to tighten the roll and set aside for 15 mins.
Open the wrap and carefully slice the chicken roll diagonally (not too thin or the celery will drop out) and insert skewers into the slices. Put them on the hot grill until the meat is cooked and a little charred.

Tomago-Yaki with Prawns and Long Beans
Ingredients: 2 Eggs, 1/4 cup chicken stock, long beans, prawns
Saute the long beans with a little fish sauce or anchovy sauce until they are cooked. Throw in the prawns at the same time to cook.
Mix the egg and chicken stock. Spread a thin layer of egg mixture in a tomago pan or any rectangular pan. Before the egg completely sets on the surface, arrange the cooked long beans and prawns on top and gently roll up the 1st layer egg over them and push to the corner. Pour 2nd layer of egg mixture into the pan. When the 2nd layer is about to set fully, roll the 1st layer egg roll over the 2nd layer in opposite direction. It takes practice. Before you take out the tamago-yaki, cook it on all sides including the side openings (where the prawns and long beans are exposed) one last time to make sure the egg mixture is set nicely inside.

Burdock Roots Salad
I got this freshly made in the local Japanese Supermarket. It is mixed with mayonnaise.

Honey Baked Tapioca Slices and Grilled Capsicum


Hubby Bento #12 – Thai Basil Pork Onigirazu
I love fusing different cuisines together, especially Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese. For this bento, I made stir-fried Thai Basil Pork Belly Onigirazu, Crispy  Squid & Prawn Springroll (Vietnamese inspired) and Thai pineapple cucumber salad with wakame. So it carries a multitude of flavours from spicy, savoury, sweet, minty fresh, salty and sour.

Stir-fried Thai Basil Pork Belly Onigirazu
Thai Basil Pork Belly ingredients : A handful of Thai Basil, a few garlic cloves (chopped), chopped long beans, thin shabu shabu pork belly strips (10-15 pieces), 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 tsp brown sugar, pepper.

I used pork belly because the fats rendered during cooking keep the meat moist for hours. Heat a little oil in a pan over medium fire and fry the garlic and chopped long beans with a little fish sauce until the bean starts to soften, move them to one side of the pan. Turn the fire up to medium high and add in the pork belly. Stir in the seasonings (fish sauce, sugar and pepper), taste test the sauce and adjust the quantity of each seasoning accordingly. Lower the heat after 2-3 minutes to low medium and mix in the rest of the sautéed ingredients and  Thai basil leaves. Cook until the pork is done (another 2-3 minutes). Do not over-cook the meat as it will turn dry and hard.

Onigirazu Assembly:
Ingredients: 1 Large Square Seaweed (Nori), fresh basil leaves, cilantro, steamed corn (optional but it adds a sweet refreshing taste to the savoury meat dish), cooked white rice.

Cut a large piece of cellophane wrap. Place the seaweed sheet on it. Spread a layer of white rice in the centre of the sheet (square square, leave enough nori at the sides for wrapping it), then layer some of the thai basil pork on the rice. Place some corn, basil and cilantro leaves on the pork before putting on another thin layer of rice. Wrap the onigirazu up like a parcel using the cellophane wrap. Press it down to compact the ingredients together. I use a pressed sushi mould (Oshizushi mould) to compact it so when you cut it into half, the ingredients will not fall out.

Crispy  Squid & Prawn Springroll
I saw the original version of the recipe on a Japanese program using normal spring roll skin. I tweet it a little using rice paper roll.
Ingredients: Rice paper roll cut in halves, 1 squid (roughly chopped), 6-8 medium prawns or 4-5 large prawns, mayonnaise, Japanese basil or shiso leaves, mint leaves, soaked vermicelli noodles, vegetable medley including chopped carrots of half a carrot, 1 celery, a quarter onion and 2-3 shiitake mushrooms, fish sauce, sugar, pepper.

Saute the vegetable medley with a little fish sauce, sprinkle of sugar and pepper until carrots are soft. Set aside to cool
Use a blender to mince the squid a little. Add in the prawns and about 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Pulse it a few times to mix it. (do not over mince it, leave some chunks of meat inside).

Mix the sautéed vegetable medley and the squid & prawn blend together. Soak a piece of the rice paper roll to soften it. Place some shiso, mint leaves before a layer of the vegetable seafood mix. Gently wrap it up like a spring roll.

Heat up enough oil to about 180°C, and fry the spring roll 2 or 3 at a time. Be careful not to fry them too close to each other as the skins will stick together. Fry each spring roll for about 2-3 minutes or until crispy. The skin may tear or “explode” like mine, but its ok, it still look good in a more natural manner. You can wrap them in a cabbage leaves later for a finishing touch. For me, I wrap them in basil leaves and alfalfa.

Thai pineapple cucumber salad with wakame
Ingredients : Wakame (Kelp), 1 slice of pineapple chopped, 1/4 onion chopped, half a Japanese cucumber chopped, a handful of basil and mint leaves, some chopped bird eye chilli, 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 teaspoons of brown sugar, juice of 1 large lime.

Mix the sauce seasonings together including the chilli. Adjust the sweetness, sourness, saltiness and spiciness according to your liking but it should have a well balance of all the tastes. Put all the vegetables together and toss with the sauce. Its like a salsa.
I hope you like my fused version of onigirazu. I made a steak and onion onigirazu a while back for my husband and kids. Take a look at Hubby Bento #02∧_∧

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Hubby Bento #05

Hubby Bento #05

Every Chinese New Year, we will receive food hampers containing canned abalone.  Life span of canned abalone is pretty long, so in my fridge, I still have 2 cans we received last year. I decided to clear the old batch as soon as possible by making abalone & prawn oshizushi for my hubby’s lunch bento today.

One box contains the oshizushi and cucumber slices, the other contains various vegetables and a meat dish

Box 1
Abalone & Prawn Oshizuhi : Besides the top layer of 2 main ingredients, I added a layer of light kombu between 2 layers of vinegared sushi rice.

Box 2
Pan-seared Japanese capsicum and egg plant with fish paste:
It is very simple to make. Cut eggplant into thick slices each measuring about 2-3 cm thick,  cut a slit deep enough in the middle but not cut through and fill in the paste. Cut capsicum into half, remove the seeds and fill it with the paste.  Sear them on both times til light brown. You can replace the filling with tofu or minced meat.

Ume Shiso Turkey Breast Roll:
This is a very popular izakaya dish. Izakaya restaurants usually use chicken breast, but I chose fresh turkey breast as it is healthier, more tender & moist. Butterfly a piece of turkey breast (I got my butcher to do it) and place it on top of a piece of cellophane wrap which will be used to roll the meat.  Place a few pieces of shiso leaves on the thin butterflied breast, then spread evenly the paste of almost one Japanese plum. Be careful of the quantity of the plum paste since it can be very salty. Roll it up using the wrap, ensuring its tightly rolled up before you open the wrap. Cut into even slices using a very sharp knife and brown them with a little oil. You don’t have to sprinkle any salt as the juice from the salty plum paste will release onto the pan and use it to coat the meat.

I used edamame, shiso leaves, carrots and cucumber as dividers and to fill up the left-over spaces.

Its a healthy yet tasty bento with the help of the sweet abalone.


Hubby Bento #01

www.ongling.comTz is having his school holidays now so it gave me sometime to pour a little ♥ on my hubby. I made him bento lunch today. Men is easily contented when wife made them lunch or dinner. And when I put a little extra effort in doing something different for him which does not cost me anything but time, I can ask for a little something special in return the next day… haha… well…. most of the time it works so long he does not take the special lunch bentos for granted >ω<

So today’s bento was a “spur of the moment” recipe as I wasn’t intending to wake up early to make him lunch and trust me, I was not planning to ask him for anything. The ingredients I used here are not pre-planned, just what I had in the fridge.

Hubby Bento #01:

Rice topped with shiso leaves furikake I bought from a little supermarket in Nozawa Onsen in Japan.

Salt-grilled Japanese okra…. just the way hubby likes it, simple.

Shoyu ginger-marinated grilled chicken wings, all wings separated in halves for quicker marinating about 20 minutes.

Soft-in-the-center boiled egg

Added sliced steamed carrots and coriander for decorating.

Voilá! His bento done in 30 minutes.

Happy lunch, happy hubby, happy me!

Note. Shiso leaves, bamboo leaves are generally used to keep the food in the bento safe from bacteria. I used coriander here too as I think it has similar properties.