Tag Archives: okaka

Heading towards end of May bentos

5 Jun


Thankfully, my girls love their vegetables and fruits. Late spring/summer starts bringing a variety of veggies and fruit that can be enjoyed raw, or with minimal preparation.

Tuesday included a bento packed with:
Grilled chicken (drumstick, de-boned)
Blanched broccoli and asparagus
Cauliflower pickle in lemon juice, soy sauce, salt, pepper, sesame oil for fragrance
Cucumber slices
Mini multi-grain onigiri with okaka center, nori belt

Wednesday included:
Savory omelette with broccoli and shirasu
Blanched asparagus spears with soy sauce, lemon juice and olive oil drizzle
Raw, red pepper slices – my older one adores these sweet, crunchy, slices. The little one is a bit more cautious, but more often won over by her sister’s enthusiasm, and quick pace of munching through them – the only evidence remaining are her hands and face faintly stained by the pepper juice.
Cauliflower pickles
Mini multi-grain onigiri with okaka center


Thursday was pizza day, due to the shortened week in observance of Memorial Day.


Wednesday, hump day!

16 May


Wednesday’s bento includes:

Grilled organic steak, thinly sliced
Pickled turnip slices
Cucumber and yellow pepper slices
Multi-grain onigiri with okaka center, nori belt, mini-sized per my daughter’s request

Hard to believe we are marching right through May – and we will soon be ending another school year!

How quickly time flies!

Monday Tuesday – quick and easy

15 May

Mother’s Day (in the US) was this past Sunday, and I had the rare opportunity to have both my mother, and my mother-in-law together, live (not SKYPE-D), this year.

The earlier portion of the day was my mother-in-law’s “day,” and we spent a few hours at the local petting/animal zoo, feeding lambs, llamas, goats, and parakeets. 

The latter portion was spent at my house, where my brother and his family joined in celebrating my mother’s birthday and mother’s day.

We had a lovely evening, barbecuing, chatting, and watching the kids run through the yard, enjoying the visiting uncle/Aunt and cousin, and racing back to Nana and Baba for hugs and kisses.

I benefitted from Mother’s Day dinner – as the leftovers were perfect for bento!

Monday bento included:

Grilled chicken drumstick with poultry seasoning and a sprinkle of lemon juice

Sliced yellow peppers, grape tomatoes and blueberries

Multi-grain onigiri in tawara shape, no filling, sprinkled with black sesame seeds, wrapped in nori


Tuesday, similarly, a quick and easy lunch:

Grilled chicken drumstick (poultry, lemon juice seasoning)

Sliced peppers, cucumbers, blanched asparagus


Multi-grain onigiri with okaka filling with nori belt – a tiny tiny onigiri


May Monday and beyond with koi nobori, and yoroi kabuto

9 May

I realized, I did not address the issue of Kodomo no hi, or Children’s Day in my earlier entry.

Traditionally, May 5th of each year celebrates the health and happiness of boys – which was subsequently changed to all children (and became a national holiday).  Carp streamers, or koi nobori are flown throughout Japan, and in households with boys (sons), a traditional warrior helmet, or kabuto are displayed, similar to the hinamatsuri dolls that are displayed for Girl’s Day in March. 

My nephew's set from my parents

My daughter enjoyed folding kabuto with origami at Japanese school with her classmates, and they all got together under a koi nobori streamer up in display in the gymnasium, waving their own hand-made koi nobori.

Monday bento included:

Baked salmon cakes, which happened to be a hit when I made them a few weeks ago.  A can of salmon, two minced celery stalks, 1/2 minced onion, 1 tsp grated ginger, 2 minced scallions, one beaten egg, a palmful of black sesame seeds, 1 tbs mustard mixed well by hand, and subsequently pan-fried in a cast-iron (minimal canola oil) over medium low heat until the surface formed a crispy crust on each side.  They are healthy (I include skin and bones, and mash everything together when mixing by hand), quick, and tasty even at room temperature, or straight out of the refrigerator.

Pickled turnip slices – soy sauce, lemon juice, drop of mirin, grated ginger and rice vinegar for 2 – 4 days.

Grape tomatoes and cucumber slices


Tawara shaped onigiri, no filling, sprinkled with black sesame seeds for crunch and color, with nori wrap

First week of May bentos

9 May

April’s ending has brought on some gray, damp, and chilly days – and I overhead Baba say, “This weather is so similar to the tsuyu or rainy season in Japan. She was sad to see the cherry blossoms had blown away in our yard – but was happy to see the colorful azalea bushes that dot our property.

The tulips that we had planted last fall grew in colorful bunches, and the girls ran between the clusters of colorful red, pink, yellow and white atop green straws and leaves.

Monday lunch included:
Baked chicken drumstick
Blanched asparagus spears, sugar snap peas and broccoli
Grape tomatoes
Steamed multi-grain onigiri, okaka center with a nori belt

Tuesday lunch included:
Baked chicken drumstick – off the bone for space purposes
Roasted beets in heart shapes
Grape tomatoes
Blanched asparagus and broccoli
Cauliflower, pickled in soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and grated ginger
Steamed multi-grain onigiri, but in tawara” or rice barrel shape, sprinkled with black sesame seeds with no center – with a belt of nori

Wednesday lunch included:
Roasted chicken drumette and wing, baked with poultry seasoning, lemon juice, salt and pepper
Grape tomatoes and sliced Armenian cucumbers
Pickled cauliflower
Blanched broccoli
Multi-grain tawara onigiri with no center, but with noribelt

Thursday lunch included (and due to my forgetful mind, I forgot to have the regular bento box ready…):
Roasted chicken drumette and wing, poultry seasoning
Sliced Armenian cucumber and grape tomato
Blanched asparagus and snow peas
Onigiri with okaka filling

Friday – pizza lunch!!

Saturday’s Japanese school bento was a quick recap of the week’s bento – roasted drumette and wingette, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, blanched sugar snap peas, pickled cauliflower, and an onigiri (Baba, my other daughter and I had these too!) with okaka filling.

Post spring break 2012

30 Apr

My daughter’s spring break zipped past, and unfortunately, my work schedule did not allow me the luxury to take the much-needed and desired time to slow down and to catch up with her.

I managed to take a very quick day off on Friday, and we (the girls and I) enjoyed a day without rushing about. We also had a “special lunch” at Takumi restaurant, where the daily specials included Ten-don (Steamed rice topped with tempura, battered and deep-fried vegetables, seafood and meat) with a side of hot soba in soup, as well as a ramen special.

Saturday’s bento included:

Baked turkey hambagu, a.k.a. small, individual portioned meat loaf topped with a sweet savory sauce of ketchup + Bulldog sauce + HP sauce (2 tbs each, mixed well).  I include vegetables, such as onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic, which are minced in a food processor, and mixed well (by hand) into a pound of ground turkey.  I take palmfuls of this meat mixture, and mold them into small meat “loaf” rolls, and bake in a 350 degrees oven for 30 minutes, covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for the last 10.  I baste them with the aforementioned sauce, reserving a tiny bit to add a fresh coat at the very end.  If the meat mixture is too runny from the vegetables, I will sometimes adjust with a handful of steel-cut oatmeal, cooked multi-grain rice, or whole wheat bread crumbs.

Sliced red peppers

Carrot sticks

Onigiri with okaka center

The rest of the week steamed ahead.

Monday included:

Broccoli tempura

Boiled Trader Joe’s cocktail pups, scored

Carrot sticks

Sliced red pepper


Tuesday was a similar lunch day with:

Trader Joe’s cocktail pups

Red pepper slices and carrots

Blanched watercress, liquid squeezed out well, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, tossed and flavored well with soy sauce, rice vinegar and katsuobushi  or shaved bonito flakes

Multi-grain onigiri with okaka center, with a nori belt

Wednesday morning, I realized I had forgotten my daughter’s lunchbox at daycare – hence the random tupperware made do.

Whole wheat ziti with marinara sauce and sautéed onions

Celery and carrot sticks

Blanched watercress and shirasu omelette

1/2 of a honey tangerine which my daughters have both fallen in love with.  I found them in a bin at Makinajian Farm, where the label listed it as “Mic’s favorite!”  If the co-owner loves them, they must be good.

Thursday lunch included:

Blanched watercress, liquid well squeezed out, seasoned with okaka.  I try to make sure to drain any extra liquid to try to minimize the potential for messes.

Carrot sticks


Multi-grain onigiri with okaka center, nori wrap.

Friday was pizza lunch!!

New Year, New Grade, New Challenge…

9 Apr

The past Saturday was the first day of the new school year. 

Japanese school runs year-round, from April to April, with a few weeks off for summer, winter, and spring break. 

A slight trepidation as we met our new teacher, as well as the new classmates (and parents…).

Saturday’s lunch, in honor of the new year+spring+Easter  holiday season, I included:

Boiled egg in bunny shape

Multi-grain onigiri with furikake seasoning, okaka filling, wrapped with a strip of nori

Pickled turnip slices (soy sauce, rice vinegar, drop of mirin, a pinch of salt)

Blanched broccoli 


Roasted beets in heart shapes

I am co-class mother for the year – my skills at janken, or rather, the lack of rock-paper-scissors skills resulted in my assignment of this position.

Amongst other responsibilities, the co-class mother must send out a weekly mailing (in Japanese) to the other parents.  I must say, my biggest concern is not the time commitment – but rather, how my Japanese email skills will hold up to the scrutinizing eyes of the other moms – whom are mostly native Japanese speakers…

Let the challenge begin!