Spice Up Your Life With a Taste of Japan

*Fun Bento Box**Cute and Natural Food From California*


Cheesy Melting Snowman

I was going make melting snowman cupcakes, but wasn't that in the mood for sweets....
Then I came across this cute cheesy melting snowman on a Japanese website!
Try this chowder recipe too. It's very easy and yummy:)


1/2 Onion
1/2 Potato
Any filling you like (corn, chicken, pork, seafood, etc...)
1tbs  Flour
200ml Soy milk
50ml Water
A little, salt and pepper
10g Oil
2tsp Vegetable broth powder

Put onion, potato in a pot. Sprinkle flour. Add your favorite fillings on top. Pour in soy milk, water and oil. Add salt and pepper. Turn on heat and mix.  Bring to a boil over medium-heat. Reduce heat and put a lid. Cook until vegetables get soft and soup becomes thick.

How to make melting snowman
You need,
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Boiled egg
Nori seaweed

1. Put the chowder in a ramekin.
2. Top with mozzarella cheese. Microwave about 30 seconds.
3. Cut a boiled egg in half and put on the melted cheese. Cut a piece of seaweed to make eyes, mouth and hands. Draw the cheeks and buttons with ketchup. (use a chopstick) Apply the face parts to the egg.

4. Cut carrot to make nose and a hat.  Use dry pasta to connect the hat and egg if you need to.


Hello Kitty Burrito Bento

What you need:

Snack size flour tortillas (Corn ones are easy to break, so I recommend flour tortillas)
Topping (corn, rice, cheese, beans or anything you like)
Corn (nose)
Nori seaweed (eyes, whiskers)
Carrot (ribbon)

1. Put your favorite topping on a tortilla.

 2. Fold as shown. Roll it up from the lower end.
 3. Cut another tortilla to create ears.
 4. Slice carrot and cut as shown to make a ribbon.

5. Cut a piece of seaweed to create eyes and whiskers. Place a small corn where you want to make a nose.


Thanksgiving Turkey Bento

Today's bento menu:
Frozen vegetable pakoras (Trade Joe's)
Shu-mai (see this post  for the recipe)
Carrot leaves ( see this post)
Japanese cucumber
Brown rice ball

How to make turkey

You need,
Sliced mozzarella cheese (wing, hat, eyes)
Cheddar cheese (wing)
Carrot (wing)
Nori seaweed  (body, face, eyes)
Corn (mouth)
Red pepper  (wattle)

Please see Turkey bento #2 below to see how to make the hat!

1. Slice carrot and place it on sliced cheese. Cut a larger circle with a tooth pick.

 2. Cut cheddar cheese with a bottle cap. Place it on the carrot.

3. Put the parts on a rice ball. Create the body and face with a piece of seaweed.
4. Make the rest of the parts and put together.

Turkey bento #2

One of the popular dishes in Japan is tow or three color rice bowl.
It is rice bowl topped with scramble egg(yellow), meat(brown), and any kind of green.
Some people make scramble tofu as a replacement of meat.
I made two color rice with egg and tofu for the bento today and decorated as turkey's wings.

-Tofu scramble

1pk Tofu (14oz, medium firm)
2 1/2tbs Soy sauce
1tbs Mirin
1tsp Sugar
1tbs Ginger, grated or chopped
Bonito flakes, as much as you like (I used 3g)

1. Drain tofu. Wrap with kitchen paper and place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave 3-4 minutes.
2. Replace the wet kitchen paper with new ones. (Tofu is SUPER hot! Be careful)
3. Place something heavy on top for about 30 mins until tofu is well drained. 
4. Tear tofu to small pieces by hands and place it in a pan. (no oil) Chop tofu with a large wooden spoon.
5. Cook until tofu gets dry.
6. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook until tofu absorb the seasoning.

-Egg scramble

2 Eggs
1tbs Sugar
1tbs Sake
a little, Salt

1. Beat the eggs and mix sugar, salt and sake.
2. Heat oil in a pan and pour in the egg mixture.
3. Cook and stir over medium heat until eggs are set.

How to make turkey

You need,

Egg and tofu scramble
Cooked rice
Carrot (turkey's toe nails)
Nori seaweed (body, eyes, hat)
Cheddar cheese (face)
Sliced cheese (eyes, hat)
Corn (mouth)
Red pepper (wattle)

1. Put rice in a bento box

 2. Add tofu crumble and then the egg as shown.

 3. Cut a sliced cheese with a straw to make eyes. Cut a piece of seaweed and create hat. Put it in a sliced cheese and cut with a tooth pick.

 4. Separate the cheese and the seaweed. Cut the square part to create the space between then. ( see the top picture)

5. Cut carrot with a star shape cookie cutter. Make the rest of the face parts.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Fall Bento

Baked Rice Balls (make about 4 )

300g Cooked brown rice (Use cold rice, or cook rice with less water than usual)
2tbs Soy sauce
1tsp Mirin
1tsp Sesame oil
1tsp Sugar
White sesame

1. Mix soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil and sugar.
2. If you use cold rice, microwave until rice gets a little bit warm.
3. Mix the seasoning mix and rice. (Use less seasoning mix depending on how hard your rice is. You don't want really soggy rice)
4. Shape the rice into chestnuts shape with plastic wrap.
5. Heat a little oil in a pan and bake the rice balls until golden brown on both sides.
    *You can freeze extra rice balls! Freeze it when it's completely cooled. Defrost it in a microwave.
6. Toast white sesame.
7. Shift the sesame to a plate and dip the rice balls. Or you can just use a spoon to put the sesame on the rice balls.



1. Slice a carrot and cut as shown. You can draw a guideline with a tooth pick before cutting.

2. Put a water and the carrot in a small micro-safe bowl and nuke about 20 seconds. (until it gets soft)


Naturally colored blue rice

It's kinda hard to make blue characters with food. Can you think about any blue vegetables??
However, you can create nice blue color with purple cabbage!

What you need

1/4 purple cabbage
2cup Water (adjust the amount of water to get your desired color. More water you put, more light color    you get)
A little  Baking soda
Cooked white rice (When you cook rice, use a little less water than usual.)

1. Boil water and add cabbage. Cook until the water become purple like this picture.
2. Add less than pinch of baking soda and mix. (if you put too much, it becomes green)

3. Add blue liquid little by little too white rice.


Shu-mai Dumpling Ducks and Inari Sushi Football Bento

My husband is a huuuuuuge Oregon Ducks fan!  He said there is a good game tomorrow, so I made "Go Ducks! bento" today:)
I made footballs with inari sushi. Please see Rilakkuma inari sushi bento for the recipe.

Ducks are made with shu-mai dumplings.
I wanted to use up tofu and chicken, so decided to make a lot of shu-mai with them and freeze for bento.
However, a problem is.... I don't have a steamer!! I need a big steamer to make a lot of shu-mai at one time.
I searched online and finally found a good solution....You just need.... CABBAGE! Yes, cabbage.
Please see below.

Shu-mai dumplings

150g Tofu (medium firm)
150 Chicken thigh (or ground chicken)
2 tbs Flour
1tbs  Soy sauce
1tbs Sake
a little Salt&Pepper
20 Shumai skins

1. Boil water and add tofu. Bring to a boil to get rid of water that tofu has absorbed. About 10 mins.
    Or Wrap tofu in a few paper towels and press with something heavy for about 3 hours.

2. Grind chicken with a food processor and mix well with the tofu.

3. Add flour, soy sauce, sake, salt and pepper. Add more flour if the mix is a little liquidy. (depends on how firm tofu is )

4. Place about a tablespoon of chicken mix on a shu-mai skin. Don't put too much.

5. Collect all the edges to the center and wrap as shown.

You can wrap them however you want!
6. Put about 1/2 cup of water and line the bottom of a pot with cabbage.
7. Put shu-mai on top.
8. Wrap a lid with a towel to avoid water from dropping on shu-mai(optional)
9. Cook over medium heat about 15~20 minutes.
10. If you want to freeze them, cool completely and put in a Ziploc and freeze.
      Don't forget to enjoy steamed cabbage too!!

To make ducks, make eyes with sliced cheese and nori seaweed.
Slice a boiled carrot and cut beak shape.
Connect edamame and shumai with a yellow pick.

It's fun to make referee's uniform design with rice and seaweed too:)


Rilakkuma inari sushi bento

Rilakkuma is a very popular character in Japan! I see a lot of Rilakkuma bento out there.
Why not, there are very cute and easy to shape:)
Try this Rilakkuma inari sushi bento^^

You need,
Inari tofu skin
Sushi rice (See sushi cake)
Sliced cheese
Nori seaweed

To make inari tofu skin,  you need
5 long or 10 short Sushi age (Google it, and you will see the pictures)
2tbs Soy sauce
2tbs Mirin
2tbs Sugar
1 1/2 water

1. Roll a chopstick over sushi age. This helps to open age easily and stuff rice inside.
    Cut age in half if you use longer ones.
2. Boil water and blanch sushi age (about 2mins)
3. Rinse with cold water too cool, Squeeze the excess water out
4. Place the age and all the ingredients in a pot and put a otoshibuta. (see otoshibuta)
5. Cook over low-medium heat until only a little liquid left.
6. Cool and squeeze the excess liquid out.

Ok, now time to make Rilakkuma!

1. Open sushi age pouch and stuff rice inside. Don't put rice too much. Especially the edges.
 2. Fold and close the age as shown
3. Pinch the edges where you make the ears.
4. Cut a cheese and piece of seaweed to make ears, eyes and mouth!

Good bento filler

santa rice ball with vegetarian meat loaf cupcake. (see earlier post for the mashed potato cream)
Nightmare before Christmas bento

I don't eat much meat for health reasons and I kinda forced my husband to do the same thing when we started living together. However, of course, it wasn't a good idea. He LOVES meat.
Now I try to choose organic, no added growth hormones natural meat as much as possible.
Also, I heard that daikon radish contains an enzyme that helps you digest meat. So I've started cooking daikon radish very often, especially sun-dried ones! They have much more flavors and nutrients.
I especially like EDEN's radish.

"EDEN Dried Daikon Radish is naturally made and sun dried in the ancient, traditional manner without the use of chemicals, artificial colorings or artificial drying techniques. Most commercial shredded daikon in Japan today is bleached to a white color. Traditionally processed EDEN Dried Daikon is a natural light cream to tan color."

Spicy daikon radish

1pk   Eden's daikon radish
6tbs Sake
2tbs Soy Sauce (I use EDEN's tamari)
2tsp Go chu jang
1tbs Sesame oil
Grated garlic to taste

Marinate all the ingredients and saute until mixed.

To make Sally and Jack, make 2 rice balls.
Unroll a imitation crab stick and separate red and white part.
Cut the red part to make Sally's hair. 
Cut the white part with a straw to make her eyes.

Make face parts with nori seaweed. It's easier to make with shredded seaweed if you have.
Color Sally's lips with ketchup:)