Tag Archives: soboro

Comfort is a bowl away

16 Oct

After watching a mouth-watering episode of their favorite cartoon, Anpanman featuring a character flying in a ramen-bowl, the girls asked in unison, “We want men-men!”

Didn’t have ramen, but a bowl of udon in soup, topped with turkey soboro, blanched hakusai or Napa cabbage, sugar snap peas, blanched carrots, narutomaki and cooked egg will just have to do!!

A weekend classic for the girls of the household…



Asparagus Monday!

23 May

The weekend’s left over dinner is lunch in this Monday!

Grilled chicken drumette and wings, first marinated in (guess what?) soy sauce-lemon juice-olive oil-poultry herbs, and grilled over distant heat until the skin is crispy. Fresh squeezed lemon juice while the chicken is still hot

Blanched asparagus, ponzu dressing

Grape tomatoes


Onigiri with turkey soboro filling, nori wrap

The locally grown asparagus are tender, and full of flavor. I blanch quickly to retain snap and taste. They sell them at Makinajian’s Poultry Farm in delicate bunches, pencil-thin, and a beautiful green with purplish hues that turn brilliantly as they blanch.

The girls love the tender spears – a harbinger of springtime.

April Monday!

2 Apr

Today’s bento included a lot of finger foods –

Carrot sticks

Cucumber sticks


Trader Joe’s Cocktail pups, the surfaces scored with a paring knife, and boiled to create a pattern

Multi-grain rice topped with turkey soboro 

Marinated turnip and celery slices in ponzu and sesame oil

Hoping the podiatrist’s prediction of only another three weeks is true – until I can return to my Tigger-esque (a la Winne the Pooh) ways.


Weekend soba January 2012

17 Jan

The girls love having soba noodles on the weekend.

This weekend’s soba included:

Hachiwari soba, or noodles, whose buckwheat content is 80% vs wheat flour.  Often, you’ll find there are soba noodles being sold with 50/50 or even less of buckwheat, or soba-ko.  These were not organic, but I couldn’t find organic >50% soba at the store.

Poached egg, poached in the boiling tsuyu (soup)

Blanched carrot slices

Blanched scallion (the green parts cut into 1 inch pieces, dipped in the boiling tsuyu (soup) until brilliant green), the white parts cut into 1/8 inch pieces and sprinkled on top before eating

Turkey soboro

Maitake simply blanched in the simmering tsuyu or soup.

The soup was a quick concoction of:

Dried niboshi, about 2 tbs that I simmer in a small pot of boiling water.  I break up the fish into smaller pieces – as they are dry, they crumble easy like crackers.  1 tbs of the ground shiitake  powder, which I slowly mix into the water.

I add salt and a quick circle-around-the-pot of soy sauce to taste.  Since the niboshi is salty, and the soboro is already seasoned, I keep the flavor on the mild side.

In a separate pot, the soba was cooked until al dente – my girls take a little more time to eat their noodles, so this prevents the noodles from getting gummy and mushy.  I drained the noodles, and portioned into bowls.

I cooked the carrots and scallions in the boiling soup pot, and removed the pieces once they blanched.  The maitake took even less time – I just “pass” it through the heat.

I then poach the egg until the white is opaque, but the yolk is still a little soft.  This goes on top of my noodles.  I arrange the veggies around the egg.  I top this with the soboro, which I’ve heated (microwaved for 1 minute) separetely, and then ladle the soup over the noodles.

I garnish with the chopped scallions, as well as some turnip greens which I’ve coaxed to grow from the top of a turnip I had cut last week, and placed on a dampened paper towel in a plastic tupperware container. 

I can’t go to my garden, but I’ll figure out a way to grow SOMETHING!

I sprinkled a little shichimi togarashi or seven-spice red pepper for color (and a little taste) and the girls were happily slurping their lunches.


***  I wanted to add and to clarify, the above methodology is NOT the conventional or traditional way to make soup broth for soba and udon!!!! Maki of “Just Hungry” provides an excellent summary and explanation of how to make this very delicate, fragrant, and delicious broth , here.  I tend to take a very informal approach to cooking due to limited time, patience and ingredients on hand!!  *****

Second week of January 2012, Monday and Tuesday bento

10 Jan

My mother left me a copy of my favorite magazine, Esse, during her visit last year, and I finally had time to carefully read, and re-read the recipes included.

This week’s bento includes several ideas gleaned from the magazine.  The magazine focused on seasonal ingredients (cabbage, mushrooms) as well as dishes that are good to have that can be used creatively (soboro).

Monday included:

Baked chicken drumette and wingette, seasoned with poultry seasoning and a drizzle of soy sauce, cooked at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

Multi-grain rice, topped with a turkey soboro, made by braising ground turkey in 1 cup water, 2 tbs shiitake powder, 2 tbs soy sauce, 1 tsp mirin until cooked.  I mashed the turkey as it braised, to ensure the pieces didn’t clump up, then cooked over low heat until all the liquid cooked away.  I adjusted the flavor at the end with a pinch of salt and sugar, and a quick sprinkle of shichimi (seven flavor) red pepper flakes.

Roasted beets in heart shapes

Julienned cabbage, abura age (deep fried tofu slices) slices cut into 1/4 inch stripes, sasakama fish cakes in 1/4 inch pieces sautéed in canola oil, seasoned with soy sauce, salt, white pepper and tossed over medium heat until well coated.  I then added 1/2 cup water + ground shiitake powder, 1 tsp mirin into the pan, and cooked away the liquid.  The cooked cabbage exudes a sweetness accentuated by the savory, slightly nutty flavor of soy sauce, while the abura age soaks up the liquid.

Tuesday’s lunch included:

Baked chicken drumette and wingette

Sautéed three types of mushrooms – sliced eringi, maitake, shimeji sautéed over medium heat (I use a small dab of butter), seasoned with soy sauce, squeeze of lemon juice and a quick twist of the pepper grinder.  I added 1/2 cup of water, and over medium-low heat, cooked away the liquid.

Carrot sticks

Roasted beets in star shapes



Saturday Bento – one for you, one for me

27 Sep

Japanese school bento was packed for my older daughter – and my little one had her own bento to take to her Nanna’s.  Papa left on Friday to catch up with a dear friend of his, and his future in-law’s, so we had some time with a full-house of estrogen of all breeds – human, feline and canine.

Saturday bento included:

Baked turkey meatballs – ringed with shelled edamame

Boiled quail egg (and edamame)

Roasted beets in hearts

Blanched watercress, tossed with soy sauce, lemon juice and black sesame seeds

Multi-grain Onigiri with turkey soboro filling, wrapped in nori

The little one was extremely happy to have her own little lunch box to take to Nanna’s.  Her watercress is actually under her turkey meatball – her box didn’t have enough space for another silicone cup. 

My older daughter has a lunch box that coordinates with her backpack – red for English school, pink for Japanese school.  The little one has a lunch bag with ladybugs on them – she loves her ladybugs, and I hear her anxiously looking for her “Tentoumushi (ladybug) bag where are you?”

Soboro onigiri, cresson goma ae and wings

20 Sep

This past Sunday night’s crazed cooking left me with a comfortable amount of bento ingredients and ideas for the next week.

Today’s bento includes:

Blanched watercress (cresson) “goma ae” or sesame dressing.  Into a pot of boiling water (pinch of salt) I added a bunch of cleaned and washed watercress.  Once the colors perked up (really, a quick blanch so it should only be 1-2 minutes to retain the crunch) I quickly removed the watercress from the pot and shocked them in an ice bath.  After they cooled, I carefully squeezed all the water out (otherwise you might tear the greens) and cut them into 1/2 inch pieces.

The goma ae or sesame dressing was made by combining the following:

2 tbs whole sesame seeds

1 tbs mirin

1 tbs soy sauce

1 tsp miso paste

I have a suribachi (mortar) that my mother had given to me, with a little wooden pestle (surikogi).  I ground up the sesame seeds, and then I gradually added the other ingredients, mixing everything well with the surikogi.  I then added the watercress into the actual suribachi, and carefully mixed them together with chopsticks.  You may want to adjust the seasoning – this happens to be the ratio I am comfortable with.  If you don’t have a suribachi, a food processor may serve well to grind up the sesame seeds, but there’s something soothing about grinding the sesame seeds down with the pestle, the fragrant seeds + wooden pestle + ceramic ridges of the suribachi creating a quiet and rhythmic gori gori sound in the quiet kitchen… Of course, you can always purchase pre-ground sesame seeds, but then you miss out on the fragrant grinding process of the seeds…

Also included today were:

Roasted beet stars

Baked Chicken wings and drumettes, seasoned with salt, pepper, a little organic poultry seasoning mix (courtesy of Makinajian Farm) and soy sauce, baked in the oven at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, covered, and then another 15 minutes uncovered.  A quick squeeze of lemon juice while hot usually rounds up the flavor very well, and keeps the chicken interesting even at room temperature

Multigrain (white, brown, pearled barley, quinoa, millet) Onigiri with turkey soboro filling

For the soboro, I sauteed 1/2 pound of ground turkey in a cast-iron pan, and then added the following ingredients, allowing them to slowly cook down over low heat – the flavors blending and concentrating in intensity as the liquid cooks down.

1 tbs mirin

2 tbs soy sauce

1 tsp freshly ground ginger

1 tbs miso paste (I use 1/2 red and 1/2 white)  – I dissolve this into the liquid ingredients

1 tbs sake or Japanese rice wine

1 tsp shiitake powder

Once the turkey cooked down, and there was no liquid remaining, I removed from the heat and allowed it to cool, and then put it in the refrigerator.

Similar to the other fillings, I took freshly steamed rice in slightly wet hands, and cupped my fingers to create a round onigiri With my other hand, I create a “finger” indent, and fill it with the daily onigiri center filling (soboro today) and form the rest of the onigiriNori strip to wrap up, and we are set.

Cherry tomatoes from the garden, picked by my oldest daughter

Hopefully she likes the slight change in filling and pace of her bento!