Japanistic is a brandname for cute little bento boxes manufactured for young children. I am not promoting them in this post, just talking about the components of a Bento box! I am not the owner of a Little Kitty bento lunchbox, yet I have been making healthy lunches almost everyday for the past month.LOL! Let's hope I stick to this plan. If I forget to pack a lunch to work, I end up eating something unhealthy like Chinese carryout or a Sandwich, when I really shouldn't consume all that carbohydrate. I have recently developed this love for Japanese 'bento' boxes. They are so attractive that I am afraid, I may get quite accustomed to having small bento lunches(another way to eat smaller portions!!). Now, recently my sacred ritual of getting lunch ready also involved a bento making process, and I wanted to share that instance with you:)
I was at Barnes and Noble when a book caught my attention---'The Just Bento Cookbook' by Makiko Itoh with how-to instructions and photos. She also incorporates food that is available in the US so I am engrossed in the pages and contents. Well, according to Makiko the normal Japanese meal is served as one course with several dishes. There is the starch usually steamed rice, a soup and at least two dishes -supporting cast to the main rice dish. The first side is usually protein based like fish, meat or a bean dish and the second/third are vegetable dishes all called 'okazu'. You could have dessert and tea afterwards and extend the meal as desired but that would be considered more of a Western style of eating. Most often traditional bentos include 4 parts rice, 3 parts meat or fish, 2 parts vegetables and 1 part pickled vegetable or fruit. This time I made a very simple Bento with very little meat but a piece of Teryaki chicken would be delicious to add to the treats.
Now, this caught my attention- why? Well, for one it is similar to most Asian meals and reminded me of many South Indian meals that I grew up on. An elaborately cute lunch box is a treat for anyone so I do need to experiment a bit more on Bentos.
The spinach wrapped omelette you see is a Japanese Sweet Omelette and here's how I made it
Tamagoyaki or Japanese Sweet Omelette
4 ‘large’ eggs
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. mirin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. light soy sauce
Oil for cooking
1. Cook and drain 1 bunch fresh spinach. Squeeze out all the water.
2. Make a light omelet with the rest of the ingredients in the oil.
3. Now, wrap the drained spinach in omelette and slice into round sections.
The next item is Onigiri or rice balls. Cook rice well. When cool you can scoop, roll and shape into desired shapes. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds or Paprika. Wrap in Seaweed or Nori belts.
Another interesting component is Roasted Pumkin Kabocha Style.
Take wedges of any pumpkin(preferably Kabocha) and pan fry using just enough butter and honey to coat and cook the pumpkin. Sprinkle with sesame seeds
For a colorful bright salad quick cook Broccoli florets, Add a grated carrot and 1/2 cup raisins.
A tablespoon of chopped scallions, salt and pepper. Then toss mayyonnaise and mustard to make a Broccoli salad. scoop into paper cups. This is my favorite Broccoli salad.
Now for a fruity treat that is cute in appearance. Cut an apple into quarters and then into halves.
Make a "V' shaped cut on one end and remove the skin. Doesn't it look like a little bunny with ears sticking up? Now, you have a Bento box fit for a little princess and I don't know anyone who wouldn't be pleased to open this cute lunch box for a mid-day meal!!