Spice Up Your Life With a Taste of Japan

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


Bento ~Lion~

Love pulled pork sandwiches but feel bad when you eat it because of its greasy fat?
Then try this bbq pulled chicken breast!
Although canola oil is added, it's not animal fat, so much healthier I believe!
It turned our really good. You won't miss pulled pork.
The recipe calls for Italian dressing... Interesting, huh?!
I made bbq sauce as well as Italian dressing.
I like making everything from scratch!

Italian Dressing Mix 
Zesty Slow Cooker Chicken Barbecue

Bento Menu
Lion: Mashed potatoes, BBQ Pulled chicken, Nori seaweed, Sliced cheese, Fried pasta
Peach&Kale salad

We made pizza with the leftover chicken. It was super yummy!


Chicken Shabu Shabu Salad

Awww so hot today....
This cold chicken shabu sahbu salad is perfect for the day like today.
My husband really liked this dish!
I found this recipe on a popular Japanese cooking site.
I used only ingredients I have, but it still came out great.
Shabu shabu usually calls for pork, but this salad is made with chicken.
Dusted with potato starch, chicken has unique and smooth texture.
This dressing is amazingly good too!
Great summer dinner.

Cold Chicken Shabu Shabu Salad

1 Chicken breast
Potato Starch, enough to coat chicken
3 Oba ( Shiso Leaves) optional

100ml Soy sauce
4tbs Vinegar
4tbs Sugar
2tsp Sesame oil
1tbs Ginger, minced
Black pepper, a little

1. Cut chicken in half lengthwise. Thinly slice them.
2. Lay the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound out to get thinner slices of chicken.
3. Dust with potato starch. Put the chicken in boiling water and cook through.
4. Dip them into a bowl of ice cold water.
5. Mix all the ingredients for dressing.
6. Serve on a bed of lettuce. Garnish with oba shiso leaves.


Japanese "Lunch Pack" Sandwiches Bento

I remember that I was so excited to grab lunch at a convenience store (conbini) when I was in junior high school.
My mom used to make bento for me and my sister almost every day before going to work, but sometimes she overslept and we had to buy lunch at a convenience store. ( I don't blame her, she usually left home 6am and came home around 9pm..What a tough woman.)
I loved her bento, but it was nice to try something different from time to time.
FYI, Japanese convenience stores are way better than the ones in the U.S. Yes, we have seven eleven in Japan too, but so different from the ones here.
Very clean, well organized and have hi-quality and unique food.
Going to conbini is a must do thing when I visit Japan! It's very exciting and fun to find new items there.

One of the popular items at conbini was and still is "Lunch Pack".
They put a layer of filling between 2 pieces of crust-less soft bread and seal the edges.
It has more than 30? 40? filling flavors including their seasonal and local limited flavors.

You can't go to Japan to try it!? No worries, I will show you how to make it at home!
I made it for my football-lover husband;)

Egg and Mayo Lunch Pack Sandwiches

2 Slices of dense bread
2 Eggs
1tbs~to your taste  Mayonnaise
Salt, Pepper

1. Boil eggs and mash with a fork and season with mayo, salt and pepper.

2. Steam bread. or wrap with plastic wrap and put in a microwave about 10 seconds. (Adjust the time to your microwave) This is very important! if the bread is dry, it will be ripped.

3. Place one of the slices on a cutting board and put the egg in the middle. (Adjust the amount to the size of the bowl you use. Don't put too much)
                                         I put tomatoes too.

4. Place the other slice on top and cut with a small rice bowl or soup bowl. Edges are sealed if you do this right! (do this process while bread is still warm)
                                         Push hard!

* I used a football shaped cookie cutter for the football. It's dessert sandwiches! Grain bread + strawberry and soy whipped cream inside;)


Beach Picnic Bento

 I will be doing Japanese character bento workshop at Whole Foods Market on September 6th. (For moms and kids I think) I will post more details when I know:)!

You'd like to make cute bento, but have no time in the morning?
 How about trying to make it on weekends and going to a park to have picnic bento!?
My husband and I love parks and enjoy having bento outside.

For picnic bento, I try to make food that is good even when it's cold.
The tofu/chicken teriyaki slider  is one of my favorite picnic menu.

I wanted to use up pasta I bought in Italy, so have been cooking a lot of pasta!
This cold tomato/basil pasta is one of my husband's favorite!
I put pasta and sauce in a separate container so that pasta won't get soggy.

Enjoy a picnic before summer is over!!

Cold Pasta
3 Roma tomatoes
3tbs Basil dressing (Recipe below)
1tbs Shio Koji  or salt to taste ( See "Shio Koji Hamburger" if you are not familiar with it )
about 160g Capellini pasta

1. Peel tomatoes. (See "How to")
2. Cut the tomatoes into small pieces.

3. Place the tomatoes in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until you don't see big tomato chunks.

4. Turn off the heat and add shio koji. Let it cool.
5. Add the basil dressing.Cool in a fridge.
6. Cook pasta. Drain and cool with ice cubes. Drizzle a little olive oil to avoid them from sticking.

Basil Dressing
10 Large basil leaves
3 Garlic Cloves
1/2cup Olive oil
1tbs Lemon juice
1/2tsp Salt
1/2tsp Pepper

Place all the ingredients in a blender and mix well.

Making yachts with masking tape & toothpicks

Cut cherry tomatoes in half and insert this picks.

Making fishes with carrot 

1. Slice carrot and cook (boil, steam, microwave or however you like)
2. Draw fish on carrot with a toothpick
3. Cut along the line with a knife

I got a lot of cute picnic items at Daiso^^!!


Mitsuwa Summer Bento

I made a summer bento for a Mitsuwa market ad! Inari sushi.
This cute character is called "Mi-Taro", their new mascot!
It's Mochi, they said...

I just realized that......I forgot to add seed on the "watermelon"..... Oh well.
It still looks like watermelon, right?

Please see "Rillakuma Inari Sushi Bento" for inari recipe.
I put a little rice in the edges of inari to make his ears.

I forgot to take process pitures for Hamburg steak sunflower, but it's on my book.
Or I will remember to take pics next time I make it!


旦那「ベイビー!!!!!(怒)どうしてそんなことするの!だったら洗ってまた使えるタッパを   使いなさい!!」



Kinpira Gobo - Burdock Root Recipe-

One of the popular Japanese side dishes, Kinpira Gobo, Braised Burdock.
Burdock looks like wood...I know it doesn't look that tasty but it actually is good! and very healthy.
It has unique flavor and a lot of nutrients like fiber.
It prevents blood sugar spikes too!

This braised burdock is salty and sweet.
A lot of Japanese side dishes are highly seasoned to prevent food from spoiling.
Also to compliment with plain rice!

I cooked a big batch and froze the rest for the next bento.
I might put it in a oven to defrost it since I and my husband decided to stop using microwave for a health reason. I'm a little too sensitive to radiation now....
 I don't know how long it lasts, but no microwave for now!!!!


1 Burdock
1/3 Carrot
40ml Sake
1.5tbs Sugar
1.5tbs Soy sauce
2tbs Mirin
Sesame oil

 This is how burdock looks like.
 1. Wash burdock and peel by rubbing the back side of knife against the skin. You don't need to peel completely since a lot of nutrients are in the skin.
2. Slice diagonally and cut into thin strips as shown. Soak in water for a couple minutes and drain.
3. Cut carrot like burdock.
4. Heat sesame oil in a pan and cook burdock and carrot until soft.
5. Pour over sake and stir.
6. Add sugar, soy sauce and mirin and mix well.
7. Simmer until it absorb all the liquid.
8. Shift to a plate and sprinkle sesame.

Reicpe adapted from フライパンで簡単~✿きんぴらごぼう✿~ (This recipe has about 4000 Japanese reviews!) 

I put the leftover in paper cups and froze for the bento.







Japanese Curry Rice Bento

Made Japanese curry last night! My husband said that curry is better on the next day....
I put the leftover curry in a bento box. Let's see if it tastes better that last night!

We had annual passes for Universal Studio Hollywood when their new minions ride was open!
We both loved the ride:) I'd love to try it again!

Today's bento menu

Minion Curry (eyes: purple potatoes, cheese and nori seaweed / mouth: cheese, nori seaweed)
Haiga rice

Homemade Japanese curry recipe is below.
Add any protein of your choice.
I added left over bbq chicken and my husband liked it:)


最初にStudio Tourを体験したときは感動~!日本から家族や友達が来たら連れていきたいなー。


60g flour
45g Canola oil
10g Curry powder
1tbs Shio Koji, or 1tsp Salt
*See the older post about Shio Koji

1clove Garlic
Ginger, same size as a clove of garlic
1 Onion
1 Potato
1/2 Carrot
1 chicken breast
800ml Water

1tbs Sugar
1tbs Honey
1tbs Ketchup
2tbs Miso
1/2can Diced tomato

Soy sauce to taste

1. Mix flour, oil, curry powder, shio koji or salt together and set aside.
2. Mince garlic and ginger. Cut vegetables and meat into small pieces.
3. Heat a little oil in a pot and add garlic and ginger.
4. Add vegetables and chicken. Cook until the veges get soft.
5. Add water, sugar, honey, ketchup, miso and canned tomato. Cook over low heat about 15 mins.
6. Add the curry paste from step1 and mix well.
7. Taste it and add a little soy sauce if you need.
8. Cook about another 10min over low-heat.

Want to make bear curry? Go to "Homemade Japanese Curry Roux"