Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sausage n Egg Bento

sausage bento
Today's bento reminds me of breakfast sets often served in Japan - sausage, egg, salad and rice. I lightly panfried the onion flavoured sausages, and made a giant tamagoyaki layered with leftover beef soboro. Accompanying that was some butter lettuce and cherry tomatoes. I topped the salad with some leftover boiled prawns from last night's dinner (which didn't quite fit with the breakfast theme.). 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Beef & Egg Soboro Bento

After a short trip away, it's back to bento for me this week. I was preparing this late Sunday night so I kept things simple and made some beef and egg soboro. Together with some peas and rice, it was quick and easy to prepare. As I find the beef soboro is already quite salty, I did not season the egg, so it is actually just plain, finely scrambled egg. (Normally, you would usually season the egg with a little soya sauce, mirrin, sugar and salt.)

Bento in Osaka

osaka bento
We just returned from a short trip to Osaka to catch the tail end of the sakura season. As expected, most of the flowers had already fallen there, so we headed out of the city to Yoshino, where over 10,000 sakura trees grow wild on the mountain. To my delight, there were still quite a few sakura blooming, especially in the higher regions of the mountain.

On the train journey to Yoshino, we enjoyed a lovely 3-tiered bento lunch that we purchased in the food section of Kintetsu Department Store. I was quite inspired by the first tier, and will try it out one day - it contained sushi rice, topped with shredded egg, slices of mushroom, a few peas, bamboo shoots and a prawn. The other two tiers contained a lovely assortment of pickles, savoury tamagoyaki, small fried fish, bamboo shoots, fish balls, lotus root and a sweet konnyaku jelly. It was really delicious, and very exciting to be eating a bento on a train in Japan!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tofu n Egg Omelette

tofu egg omelette
This recipe is great if you are looking to add some extra protein and tofu into your diet, and it is also perfect to pack in your bento lunches, as it tastes good cold. It is also a handy way to use up any leftover tofu you may have in the fridge. The tofu makes the egg omelette very soft and juicy, and you can't really taste the tofu at all (which means it is a sneaky way to get non-tofu loving people to eat tofu, too). 

Serve this hot for breakfast (with a little chilli or tomato sauce), or cold in a bento lunch (together with rice and some other side dishes). 

Continue reading for the recipe...

Tofu n Egg Omelette

110g hard tofu
1 large egg
1/2 tsp soya sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
dash of pepper
a little oil for frying

1. In a small bowl, mash the tofu with the back of a spoon. Crack an egg into the tofu and mix gently until well combined.

2. Add the soya sauce, sesame oil and pepper to the mixture and mix well.

3. In a small non-stick frying pan or small egg pan, heat up a little oil over medium heat.

4. Pour the tofu and egg mixture into the pan and smooth the top of the mixture so that the height is even.

5. Cook over medium heat until the tofu omelette is golden brown and firm underneath. With a small spatula, slowly separate the omelette from the sides of the pan. When the mixture is solid enough to turn, quickly flip it over with the spatula (it can get a little tricky here). 

6. Cook the other side, until the omelette is golden brown on both sides and firm. Cut the omelette up into cubes or wedges with your spatula. The inside should be firm and not runny. Serve hot or cold.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

choc cookies
If you love soft, gooey, chocolate cookies (or are a Mrs Fields cookie fan), you'll love this recipe. Take them out when they are just cooked through (the bottom may still be a touch gooey) and they will remain soft even after they have cooled (which I find pretty amazing). The only downside is that the cookies, being a little cracked and brown, may not look overly attractive to some. The taste more than makes up for that, I think...

Eat on their own, with some black coffee or vanilla ice-cream!

& Happy Easter to those celebrating!

Continue reading for the recipe...

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
(makes around 20 cookies)

140 g semisweet chocolate chips
70 g unsalted butter
1 large egg
5 ml vanilla essence (pure, if possible)
65 g caster sugar
30 g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
10 g unsweetened cocoa powder
dash salt
100 g brazil nuts, chopped (you can also use macadamia nuts)

1. In a small saucepan, melt 85 g of the chocolate chips and butter together. Set aside to cool a little.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, egg and vanilla essence together until the mixture is well combined, thick and pale. Add the chocolate butter and stir.

3. Sift the flour into a separate bowl, and mix in the baking power, cocoa powder and salt. Add these dry ingredients into the liquid chocolate mixture and stir until blended.

4. Fold in the nuts and the remainder of the chocolate chips (55 g). Cover and refrigerate the dough for 1/2 hour - 1 hour.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees C. Line a baking tray with nonstick baking paper/parchment paper, or lightly grease the baking tray.

6. Scoop out balls of the chilled dough and place them a little apart from each other on the baking tray. Flatten the top of each mound slightly. (I use a small ice-cream scoop to evenly measure out each ball of cookie dough.)

7. Bake for 14 minutes, or until the cookies are just set.

8. Remove from the oven. Allow the cookies to rest for 1 -2 minutes before transferring them onto a wire rack with a spatula. Cool thoroughly, before packing them away into an airtight container.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Teriyaki Chicken Mushroom Rice

chicken mushroom rice

This one pot, one dish meal was created out of a need to prepare something hot and satisfying with a minimal amount of preparation and cooking. All you need to do is cut and marinate the chicken and mushrooms, and dump them with the rice into a rice cooker. The rice cooker takes care of the cooking, leaving you free for other things. Simply serve it up when the rice is cooked, with a side of greens if you must, or on its own (I figure mushrooms are vegetables, too!). Japanese or Korean pickles (eg. takana - mustard greens) work very well with this dish too.

The rice is great for bento as well, so you can pack up any leftovers for lunch the next day.

Continue reading for the recipe...

Teriyaki Chicken Mushroom Rice
(serves 2)

150 - 200g boneless chicken thigh meat
10 - 12 chinese or shitake mushrooms
240g long grain white rice (uncooked)
240ml water
1 - 2 cm piece ginger
5 Tbsp soya sauce
3 Tbsp sake
3 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp sugar
dash pepper

1. Mix the soya sauce, sake, mirin, sugar and pepper together in a medium sized bowl. Peel the ginger skin (with a spoon) and slice the ginger into thin strips. Add to the marinade.

2. Trim the excess fat from the chicken meat and cut into generous bite-size chunks (around 1.5 inches). Slice the mushrooms. Add the chicken and mushrooms to the marinade and mix well. Set aside for around 5 minutes as you prepare the rice.

3. Add the uncooked rice into the inner pot of your rice cooker, and wash the rice under cold running water until the liquid is clear. Drain, then using the same cup in which you measured out the rice, add an equal amount of cold water. (Your rice cooker usually comes with a measuring cup. For me, 240g rice equals to 1.5 cups of my rice cooker cup. I then use the same cup to measure an equal amount of water, ie. 1.5 cups).

4. Pour the chicken and mushrooms, along with the marinade over the rice, and switch your rice cooker on (use the setting you normally would to steam plain white rice). 

5. When the rice cooker has completed cooking the rice, let it sit covered for a few minutes, before opening the rice cooker. Stir the chicken, mushrooms and rice together well to distribute the sauce evenly. Scoop the rice into bowls and serve with green vegetables, and/or Japanese pickles. 

Tip: Refrigerate any leftovers in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and pack it in a bento container for lunch the next day. The rice can be eaten at room temperature, but you could pack it in a thermos, or microwave-safe bento.