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That I don’t have many occasions these days — nor the energy — to make bentos, doesn’t mean I can resist the occasional splurge on nice gear! So when I saw this modern tumbler at Bento & Co during their Golden Week discount, it took me only seconds to click the right buttons. ;) I bet my fellow bentoïsts can relate?!

Insulated 'Wallmug Porter'

"Microwave safe. You can reheat juicy food to enjoy them deliciously."

I’ve been wanting an insulated mug to bring along soup or noodles for ages, so I’m glad I can now cross that “WANT” off my list.

But I didn’t stop at that! Remember I’ve been doing without a picnic bento since my cute rabbit box broke during Hanami two years ago? What better than to get myself a real cherry blossom bento? I love my sakura, and I won’t say ‘No’ to a spray of gold-dust either. ;) Don’t you think this Hakoya box is lovely?

New Sakura picnic bento box for Hanami

And then there’s the “OMG they killed Kenny!” bottle (a.k.a. Wallmug Sulo) that made me giggle. It can be used for either hot or cold drinks and the snazzy insulation jacket makes it weigh less than a thermos.

"OMG they killed Kenny!" bottle

You can imagine that receiving these nice new stuffs made me eager to throw together a bento a.s.a.p. Well.. today’s the day! And heeeeeeere’s:

Pastel Bento (#142)

Pastel Bento #142 - Thermos with pasta

The tumbler contains pasta with black olives and white asparagus. I’ve made this recipe twice now, both when I had omnivore dinner guests coming over, and it certainly won’t be the last time. I microwaved the leftovers this morning and although the mug felt warm to the touch for quite sometime, I was a bit disappointed to find it had cooled down at lunchtime. I guess I’ll need an insulation bag to go with it. Or a microwave at the office. ;)

Pastel Bento #142 - Hakoya box with spring colours

Upper tier

  • Salad ingredients: oak-leaf lettuce, spring onion, radish & radish sprouts, parsley, croutons.
  • Miso-dressing.
  • Piece of corn on the cob.

Lower tier

  • Rhubarb compote.
  • Fruit dessert of pear and kiwi with coconut cream (you’ll be hearing more about that when I talk about rhubarb in another post).
  • Pickled red onion.

I hope I’ll have another bento to share with you soon!

Pastel Bento #142

Find more bento lunches at Shannon’s What’s for Lunch Wednesday  (week 52).

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Oh nooooos! Reading up on some of the Weekend Cooking posts I stumbled upon a new challenge Margot mentioned: Whip Up Something New! *SIGH* I just updated my Challenge Page & sidebar yesterday and now they’re not up-to-date any more. Behind again! Yeah well, I had to join, right?

Whip up something new! logo

Whip up something new! is a monthly challenge for the many of of us who promise ourselves that we’ll try new recipes and yet we end up cooking the same old things. Although it was inspired by organising those ripped/cut out recipes, if you don’t have such a pile of paper to sift through, feel free to make something from one of your cookbooks or from the hundreds of fabulous cooking blogs. The point is to try cooking new things!

As I try some new recipes each month (often even weekly) this really isn’t much of a dare to me. The hard part is blogging them! I’m hoping this challenge will help me do just that. Fits perfectly with the newly set blogging routine of 2×4 hours I decided upon; I might even need to make a monthly topic schedule! LOL

Anyway, as January’s Hello Japan! mission is to try Something New as well, I thought I’d share  the white miso soup recipe I tried yesterday.

Miraculous Miso Soup

Undeserving picture of white miso soup

I made this dish to bring along to a friend’s house, where we were going to watch Chef of South Polar, about a Japanese cook making marvellous meals for a small research team on Antarctica. It was just a small offering compared to the work she put in making us vegetarian sushi, which even turned out completely vegan. One of the maki rolls contained kanpyo: sweet pickled pumpkin which I had never had before and tasted wonderful! It’s on my grocery list ;) and I’m looking forward to making onigiri with it!

Cover The VegetarianTable: Japan (Victoria Wise)

But on to the White Miso Soup recipe I took from The Vegetarian Table: Japan cookbook by Victoria Wise (page 41). It is absolutely delicious! I don’t think I ever want to try another recipe ;) The picture above really doesn’t do it justice.

I had made some parboiled carrot flowers and small bundles of mustard cress for decoration — which unfortunately dropped straight to the bottom of the bowls… :( Well, lesson learnt ;)

Ingredients
Serves 4.

  • 1 tofu puff sachet (aburaage) cut in 8 thin slices; can be substituted by 115 gr / 4 oz soft tofu in cubes
  • 825 ml / 3.5 cups vegetable dashi (Japanese stock)
    Note: prefab dashi usually contains bonito, which is a type of fish. You can sometimes buy a vegan version in health stores or well-stocked Asian stores, but why not make it yourself? I’ve used the recipe from Victoria Wise’s cookbook, freezing portions for quick future use. I have no doubt Maki’s on-line recipe is quite as good. Since I’m now out of dashi stock I might just try it myself!
  • white part of 1 small leek, sliced into very thin rounds and well rinsed
  • 5-6 tbs white miso
  • 12 strands (about 4 cm / 1.5 inch each) of lemon zest ~ use organic!
  • personal addition (optional): thin slices of carrot (pre-cooked), any kind of cress or finely shredded cabbage

Preparation

  1. Place the tofu slices in a colander and pour boiling water over them to rinse off the oil. Set aside.
  2. Optional: prepare other decorative ingredients.
  3. Put the dashi in a medium pot or microwave bowl and bring to a boil.
  4. Place the miso in a small bowl, add 125 ml (0.5 cup) of the warm dashi and whisk to smooth. Set aside.
  5. Add the tofu puff slices, leek and optional carrot to the dashi an simmer very gently for about 2 minutes until wilted.
  6. Stir in the miso, taking care not to let the liquid boil again.
  7. Ladle into soup bowls, dividing the ingredients equally.
  8. Garnish with lemon zest (and optional cress).
  9. Serve right away. Itadakimasu!

The easy part

This soup is really easy to make and it only takes a little time when you have all the ingredients at hand.

The hard part

The hardest part was cutting my slices of lemon zest, even though I have a special tool for it — called lemon zester ;) I guess I’ll need to practice! Since the soup is cloudy and ingredients sunk to the bottom, it also wasn’t easy to share them equally.

White miso

I’m submitting this post to January’s Hello Japan! because I haven’t used shiromiso before. At least not to my knowledge — although Mr Gnoe disputes that. There are three major types of this Japanese fermented bean paste: white (shiromiso), red (akamiso) and awasemiso; which is a blend of both.

For many years we’ve only had red miso (like I said: solely, as far as I can remember), which is much saltier. I’m now dying to try miso tamago with the more subtle flavoured shiromiso — the way it’s supposed to be made! Better do that before my ExtraVeganza pilot starts next week ;)

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Join Beth Fish’s weekend cooking with a food-related post!

Beth Fish Weekend Cooking logo

Een belangrijk onderdeel van mijn hamsteruitdaging zijn UCO’s: Unidentified Cooking Objects. Daarmee bedoel ik producten die ik moeilijk kan verwerken omdat ik niet weet wat je ermee moet doen — of zelfs wat het is! Vaak komt dat doordat er geen instructies zijn… of in een voor mij onbegrijpelijke taal :) Dat vraagt om research en daardoor blijft het liggen ;)

Zo ook mijn ochazuke. Maar nadat ik dit kleurrijke pakje uit mijn kast enige tijd geleden had geïdentificeerd, heb ik het in juni eindelijk uitgeprobeerd!

Een zakje ochazuke (of chazuke) bevat gesnipperd zeewier met kruiden en verpulverde rijstcrackers dat je bij een restje rijst doet en overgiet met sencha (groene thee). Een soort Japanse cup-a-soup ;)

Helaas smaakte het niet erg geweldig als hoofdmaaltijd; we vonden het nogal flauw. Maar dat is vast mijn eigen schuld omdat ik het met een kliekje Thaise pandanrijst maakte in plaats van witte rijst of Japanse sushi. En ik moet bekennen dat de houdbaarheidsdatum al een half jaar (!) was verlopen, dus misschien is de smaak gewoon vervlogen! :\ Ik heb nog 2 porties over: volgende keer doe ik er een beetje miso of dashi door (geen thee, er zit toch al theepoeder in) en gebruik ik zéker een betere rijst. Ja hoor, dat durf ik best met zo’n zakkie over datum ;)

Recept ochazuke per portie (zakje 6 gram): 100 gram, liefst warme, gare rijst en 150 ml kokend water, (Japanse) groene thee of dashi (Japanse bouillon). Yes, that’s really all folks :)

Ochazuke is dus eigenlijk ‘koken met kliekjes’. In Kyoto heet het trouwens bubuzuke, zoals een geisha daar opeens geiko heet. Wanneer iemand uit die stad je vraagt of je bubuzuke wilt eten, kun je dat opvatten als beleefd verzoek om te vertrekken: je bent als gast te lang blijven plakken! :-o

Maar jullie hoeven niet weg, hoor ;) Stay tuned voor de laatste blogpost over juni’s hamsteretappe; ook dat was een UCO!

Miso tamago

On Just Bento, one of my favourite blogs, I found this recipe for miso tamago (in miso marinated eggs), which seemed perfect to bring along on a day of Academy Award nominated movies at the Parool Oscar Weekend. Delicious, and easy to make! Because we didn’t have any white miso I used red, which is stronger. So we didn’t need to add any salt ;) Maybe the original recipe is more subtle? Let’s try that another time! Because this is definitely going to be a fav ;)

Read the Dutch text

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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