Tag Archives: Katsuobushi

Wrapping up the week

15 May

Thursday bento included:

Roasted drumette and wingette

Roasted beets in heart shapes

Blanched asparagus spears

Cucumber slices


Vegetable spirals in Trader Joe’s marinara sauce, with thinly sliced (pre-cooked) TJ’s sweet sausage


This bento was actually for Japanese school.  It included:

Roasted  beet hearts

Grape tomatoes

Blanched asparagus pieces with tossed with a little katsuobushi and soy sauce

Rolled Omelette with shirasu (boiled baby sardines)

Multi-grain onigiri with okaka center, wrapped in nori

I had actually made four similar bentos – one for my little one, who had a quality “papa” day at home, one for Baba and one for myself – as we had a class-outing to the local park with her grade, and we spent a nice afternoon outdoors.



Spring’s here! Spring’s here!

20 Mar

It’s a glorious day on the east coast…

Today’s lunch included:

Chicken patty, sautéed, and cut into a star-shape.  It’s ground chicken, seasoned with garlic, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper – and I confess, was bought on impulse for convenience.  Wild by Nature, a natural foods store in our area that I haunt on occasion does a pretty good job with their products.  A bit pricier than Trader Joe’s though.

Blanched and well “wrung” watercress ohitashi seasoned with katsuobushi and a drop of soy sauce.  The key is to blanch the watercress in boiling water QUICKLY, then squeeze all the water out, well.

Blanched broccoli

Grape tomatoes

Multi-grain onigiri with okaka filling, wrapped in nori


Welcome spring!


First bento for the fall season 2011

22 Aug

Saturday school is back in session, and thankfully, we had carefully planned our summer to ensure homework was methodically completed.  Otherwise, I imagine, Friday evening would have involved alot of catch-up and grumbling. 

Back to bento – and here’s what she had on her first day back for the fall session:

Boiled quail eggs (conventional) with carrot sticks

Blanched long beans, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces, dressed very lightly with katsuobushi and soy sauce (carefully drained)

Cucumber slices – from the garden!

Yellow cherry tomatoes

Onigiri made with 1/2 brown, 1/4 white and 1/4 multi-grain rice.  I seasoned with gomashio (sesame salt) and the center filling was okaka, or katsuobushi with a little soy sauce – all wrapped with nori

A small container of cantaloupe was also included on the side

The second bento was for my younger daughter, who was to spend a day with Papa and his projects.  She is not too fond of raw tomatoes yet, so I did not include them in her bento box. 

For the first class, each student had to bring in an item that best captured their summer break.  My daughter took in an artichoke flower, as well as a yard-long bean that was about a 1 1/2 foot long.  She proudly said the other students took turns passing the artichoke flower around, and sniffing it.

Usually, artichokes don’t last for a long time at our house – they get steamed and eaten pretty quickly.  This particular artichoke was actually grown in our garden – and I missed the opportunity to eat it, due to various scheduling, and poor planning.  I watched as the artichoke dried up, and one day, I saw a beautiful sliver of purple escaping from the toughened, green, leaves.  My daughter couldn’t understand why she wasn’t able to have the artichoke for dinner – but she was then, similarly fascinated by the thin, lavender petals that peeked through the leaves.


Taking a deep breath – it’s August already… Brandywines, San Marzanos and more

5 Aug

“You know, you haven’t been as diligent with your blog these days…”

An honest comment from my father last night as we skyped – the girls eating dinner, while my parents (Jiji and Baba) took turns talking to them.  I certainly need to get back into my routine of blogging – but it’s difficult these days,  trying to soak in the long, summer days without the restrictions of school schedules, wake-ups and the dreaded daylight’s savings…  No, not a mikka bouzu, but… simply summer laziness?

Last night’s dinner included:

Freshly picked edamame – boiled for 4 minutes until they turn brilliant green, then sprinkled with sea salt.

Seared flank steak (TJ’s conventional, but I believe non-antibiotic), marinated with a minced garlic-(conventional) ginger-soy sauce-rice vinegar-Trader Joe’s 21 spice rub, and seared on the grill.

Freshly picked green beans – string beans and yardlong beans, blanched, and cut into inch long pieces, seasoned with katsuobushi  and soy sauce.

Handful of freshly picked yellow grape tomatoes

The garden is yielding an amazing amount of vegetables, starting with tomatoes ranging from the yellow grape tomatoes, San Marzano Roma tomatoes, gorgeous blush-hued Brandywine tomatoes, and Beefsteak tomatoes.  This is the first year I was successful with the Brandywines, and I was struck by how beautiful they are.  The tomatoes are ridged – some almost look knotted – but they all seem to glow a breath-taking rose as they ripen on the vine.  I thought my eyes were failing on me the first time I picked one that was ripe – I actually rubbed my eyes, thinking something was wrong.  How could a tomato be pink?  Oh, my dear reader – they can be pink, and they delicately and deliciously transition from the light, sea green to a bashful pink.  And the taste!  They are juicy and bursting with flavor, and I couldn’t help but eat a whole tomato (the size of my hand!), cut into wedges with salt in one sitting – barely breathing between the pieces because I felt I’d miss something by pausing, and hastily wiping away the juice running down my chin.  It tasted of summer sunshine in each bite.

The beans are also growing quickly – there are several types – Kentucky Blue (your typical string beans), flat green beans (we received a bean packet from a local fair that we planted), two types of yard-long beans (one is red, the other green), and of course, edamame

The cucumbers seemed to have failed this year due to the glitch with my sprinkler system – I’ve got rogue summer yellow squash, butternut squash and spaghetti squash that regenerated out of the compost pile – and have monopolized any area outside of the raised beds, virtually dominating the sprinkler head directed at the cucumber trellis.  We did get a good harvest early on – but not certain I’ll have any more this summer.

Shiso is growing under the poles, shaded by bean vines reaching upwards.  The artichoke is also growing, I cut one artichoke last night – I just need to steam it for the girls to “dip-dip” in a soy sauce vinaigrette. 

Potatoes are also growing – another compost re-generator, and I’m curious to see what they look like when we dig them up.

In the evenings, when I can manage to squeeze into the garden with the girls, I watch them go from the garden to the garden hose to rinse them before eating their pickings – the little one declaring she wants edamame – although I suspect every green bean she picks is considered an edamame in her book.  The older one carefully picks tomatoes, yellow ones, orange ones, red ones, and runs to the garden hose, rinsing them off, these summer jewels, and popping them in her mouth.

Summer appears to be picking up momentum as we lazily float down these wonderfully carefree times – but school is right around the corner, and my bento battle (at least for Saturdays) will start in two weeks.

As for photos of my garden – apologies for the lack of them – I was too busy picking, eating and chasing Kiki, my chocolate lab, out of the garden before I realized I left my camera inside…


PS.  Today’s NY Times has a wonderful article by Mark Bittman – one of my favorite columnists regarding “The Proper Way to treat Heirlooms.”  A timely article!

Last bento before summer break 2011 – Japanese School version

12 Jul

Okra season arrived, and I was excited to find the fresh, crisp, green vegetables in the bins at Makinajian Farm.  The girls love to eat them – and they are often anxiously waiting for the blanched pieces to be seasoned for dinner.

I bring a small pan of water to boil, sprinkle a little sea salt, and once it is boiling, I put the okra (top stem portion cut off) to quickly blanch.  The pieces become a brilliant green – and I quickly take them out of the boiling water with chopsticks.  I then plunge them into ice water.

Once chilled, the pieces are cut into 1/2 inch pieces – and I season with whatever’s on hand.  Soy sauce, rice vinegar and a little grated ginger are a great choice, as well as soy sauce and katsuobushi.  Lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt is also refreshing.

Either way, the girls can’t inhale them quickly enough, and I feel like the Mama Swallow who raised her six babies outside our garage – the birds’ heads popping over the edge of the nest, as they eagerly called for her around meal times… and just as quickly as they started peeping for her attention, they would quickly silence as soon as she flew away.  Papa Swallow would perch on my car antennae, a little avian decoy who sat still on the slender wire while Mama would swoop and feed.

The girls would ask for more okra after the teaser pieces I provided to them before dinner.  Once their meals were plated, a quick “Itadakimasu”  all the okra pieces seemed to rapidly disappear in quick swooping motions with their little spoons – each one laden with two, three, pieces they could balance and configure into their mouths.

Bento included:

TJ’s Armenian Cucumbers (conventional) – can’t wait for the ones from the garden to be ready!

Roasted beets, star shapes

Baby carrots – I try to avoid pre-cut carrots, but I had them handy, so they were included in the lunch

Onigiri with yukari seasoning – it’s shiso leaves that have been dried, mixed with salt – it’s an herbal, almost fruity, flowery taste that is refreshing.

Blanched okra pieces – I put the cut slices into a smaller container with a lid, seasoned with soy sauce, lemon juice and a little pepper, and shook everything together, gently.  I then shook the excess dressing off, so it didn’t “run” in her lunch.

The teacher commented how excited my older daughter was when she opened her bento box, and how she savored every bit of it.  Home-run lunch for the last bento until mid-August!!

Purple, Yellow, they’re all the same!

27 Jun

I’ve been adjusting to life without the daily race for bento preparation.  Gone are the evenings spent cooking up little tidbits – my husband winding down on the couch while I zipped here and there through the kitchen – blanching, mixing, chopping, kneading, icing, steaming, washing…

My husband spent many years in the food industry through his youth and school years – starting as a barback, waiter, foodrunner, and everything in between.  His cooking skills are excellent – and when he cooks, the kitchen is orderly, spotless, a live text-book definition of “mise en place.”

Meanwhile, my cooking is more free-form, with various utensils, dishes and the like scattered across the counter as though hastily escaping the confines of the cabinets en masse from some unknown fate.  My husband’s head seems to spin, slowly, as he canvasses the kitchen, sighs, and asks dryly, “How do you cook like this?”

To each their own.  Controlled chaos leads me to creative concoctions – he can stick to his orderly and meticulous culinary engineering!

The kitchen sink is emptied, the dishes and utensils loaded into the washer before night’s end… isn’t that all that matters?

I only pack a bento for Saturday school (summer break soon, and I will be so lost during that time!!) these days, with the theme of easy, and casual pickings.

Saturday’s bento included:

Boiled quail eggs

Onigiri with okaka (katsuobushi, or shaved bonito flakes lightly moistened with soy sauce, and some sesame seeds mixed in) made with 1/2 brown, 1/2 short grain.  I tried to use the multi-grain mix, but it was too crumbly. 

Blanched asparagus spears

Roasted YELLOW beets, cut into cats


The girls were curious and a bit anxious when they saw the yellow beet pieces.  “Mama, I don’t know if I want this…” my older daughter said, her eyebrows furrowed, her mouth shaped in a frown.  The little one watched her older sister’s reaction, and also furrowed her eyebrows.

“Trust mama, just open your mouth and try it….” I coaxed.

The older one took a tiny bite, and then her smile broke out into a smile. 

“Mama, it’s a BEET! It’s YELLOW!” she exclaimed, and inhaled her beet pieces.

“Ya-LLLLOW! BEETS!” the little one shouted, and proceeded to inhale her pieces AND ask for her older sister’s pieces.

Another winner lunch for this week!

Manic Monday in June

7 Jun

The first complete week of June was supposed to start off with a bang.  I gathered the girls up in the morning, had them dressed, fed, and ready to go to school.  Both girls ran into the bedroom to say goodbye to their Papa, and then they raced to the mud-room stairs to get their shoes on. 

The little one stopped in her tracks and wailed, “Mama TENTOUMUSHI (Ladybug)…!”

I raced back to the kitchen to get her ladybug lunchbag  off of the counter, which she likes to tote on her arm like a pocketbook.

I had originally used a University of Michigan lunch-bag which we had purchased on one of our forays to Ann Arbor, MI during football season, but this mysteriously disappeared last year.  I teased my daycare provider (she is a Northwestern alumnus) that she must have disposed of it, but she swore she had nothing to do with its disappearance.

Needless to say, I decided to splurge on a cute lunch-bag for the little one when I saw her enviously eyeing her older sister’s bright red LL Bean backpack

A most worthwhile purchase!

Monday’s lunch included:

Grilled chicken drumstick with a soy sauce, grated ginger, sesame oil, salt and pepper seasoning

Blanched asparagus

Blanched watercress, well-drained (water squeezed out), and cut into 1/2 inch pieces, seasoned with black sesame seeds and a drop of soy sauce

Roasted beets  – too small this week to cut into shapes

Onigiri with a filling of thinly julienned kohlrabi leaves that were first blanched, and then dry-sauteed (no oil) in a hot pan with a three tablespoons of katsuobushi, sesame seeds, and seasoned with a little bit of soy sauce and mirin.  I discovered kohlrabi over the weekend, and fell in love with its sweet, mild taste with the most delicious crunch.  I was inspired to make this dish based on one my mother used to make with daikon radish leaves during my childhood.  We would eat this over steamed rice…

Early in the afternoon, I received a call from my daughter’s preschool, telling me she was extremely uncomfortable due to her eczema.  I was unable to drop everything and leave to pick her up at that time, but fortunately, my daycare provider – our invaluable support – was able to pick her up.

I stopped at a local health food/vitamin on the way home, and grilled the store employee about non-steroid creams.  Fortunately, I found a non-steroid alternative, as well as a holistic anti-histamine chewable supplement made with chamomile and nettle. 

I had taken my older daughter to the pediatrician last week, and was prescribed a steroid topical – and was told to give her Benadryl if she was uncomfortable – but I just couldn’t wrap my head around this.  I’m hoping the alternative treatments work.

I picked both girls up from daycare, and gave them both big hugs.