Can you guess what kind of fried rice is in the bento box?

A few days ago I bought two packets of natto (Japanese fermented soy beans) from my local Asian grocery store. I was curious with its infamous slimy, sticky texture and pungent (and many people say 'repulsive') smell. I was ready to pinch my nose when I opened my first ever natto packet, expecting strong, unpleasant odour. Strangely enough, I didn't find the smell to be repulsive at all, it didn't smell that strong either. I actually thought that it smelled like roasted peanuts...;). The texture is but a whole new different level. After I stirred the fermented beans several times together with the soy sauce and mustard included in the packet, the beans got very gooey and slimy - which certainly didn't look very appetising at all, but I had expected this, since I had been doing some research on natto beforehand.

I know that natto is a popular accompaniment to steamed rice usually eaten for breakfast in Japan. I wasn't ready to try it as it was though, the texture was quite a turn off, but I could somehow imagine that it would taste great when the gooey texture is gone.

And boy was I right! I found some natto recipes while browsing the net and the idea I l liked most was Natto Fried Rice. If you're a vegetarian, I strongly recommend you to give this natto fried rice a try. I am usually quite carnivorous, but I was able to enjoy this natto fried without adding any kind of meat or fish.

Natto Fried Rice
Adapted from Just Bento
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 packet natto (mixed with soy sauce and mustard included in the natto packet)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce (alternative: Worcestershire sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped scallion
  • White pepper to taste
Mix the egg with a packet of natto. Fry the natto/egg mixture with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add brown rice, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Stir-fry for a few minutes and mix well. Toss in the chopped scallion and white pepper. Stir-fry for another minute. Serve.

Sitting on top of the natto fried rice a dragonfly made out of cheese, purple potato, nori and takuan.  The side dishes include four baby carrots, two ham flowers, soy sauce egg, radish, two cherry tomatoes and one takuan rose.

It's public holiday in Germany tomorrow. I hope I'll be able to come up with another bento :).

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Yesterday I was browsing some kawaii sites and Rilakkuma was almost always in every Kawaii site I went to... Well, I have to admit, he's really quite adorable :).

I had some takuan (pickled radish) in my fridge and finally found good use of it - I made a rose out of takuan (slice the takuan thinly and roll and you'll get a rose :)), the little chick Kiiroitori and Rilakkuma's yellow ears are also made out of takuan.

The Rilakumma onigiri is filled with beef teriyaki. There are also two pieces of rolled carrots (meant to look like roses), three cherry tomatoes topped with cheese flowers, two ham/green bean rolls, soy sauce egg, edamame, one fried shrimp, one boiled dumpling which is covered by the takuan chick, one radish and one takuan flower.

Oh, by the by, this is my 9th Rilakkuma-themed bento...!!


Before I end this post, I'd like to let you know a great new food site called RecipeNewz.You can share food pictures here and no images would be rejected. If you like to look at mouthwatering pictures or you just want to get to know other food bloggers, this site is worth visiting. Have fun :)!

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I had been eyeing Maangchi's Dakjjim recipe (Korean braised chicken with vegetables) for a few months. Today I finally had the chance to make it and I can only say that it's delicious and my version is just the shortcut version with quite some missing ingredients but it's still totally yummy - imagine the taste of the original version!

Besides the bento meal I also have another new bento box which I want to review - actually I have had this bento box for a few months, but never used it until today. This pretty bento box below is from Bento USA. It's microwavable and costs US$23.95.

It is  a click and lock bento box which comes with a plastic lid and includes a pair of wooden chopsticks.

The box is pretty roomy, you will be able to fit in quite a lot of foods inside. There is also a removable plastic food separator inside the box, in case you don't want some food items to touch each other.
 If you are interested to buy this bento box, you can click the link here.

Now let's get back to the food:). Besides Maangchi's Dakjjim, I also made carrot and konyakku kinpira which I adapted from Maki's (from Just Hungry) recipe. I never knew that kinpira can taste so good...!! If you don't know what kinpira means, it is a cooking style which involves sautéing (usually) root vegetables with soy sauce and red pepper flakes.

Dakjjim - Korean braised chicken
Adapted from Maangchi

  • 5 chicken drumsticks, skinned
  • 6 - 10 mushrooms, sliced
  • 200 grams Shirataki noodles
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil for pan-frying
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp gochujang (hot pepper paste)
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 200 ml water
  • 5 dried chili peppers
  • 5 fresh chilies, seeded and sliced
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Sauté garlic, ginger, dried chili pepper, fresh chilies together with the chicken drumsticks. Add the sliced mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 minute. Drizzle some oyster sauce, soy sauce and gochujang. Add water, sugar and shirataki noodles. Simmer until the chicken drumsticks are cooked through. Sprinkle with ground black pepper and toasted sesame seeds.

Carrot and Konyakku Kinpira
Adapted from Just Hungry
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned
  • 1 block konyakku, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
  • a pinch of shichimi togarashi (or red pepper flakes)
  • toasted sesame seeds
Heat up a frying pan with 1 Tbsp sesame oil. Add the julienned carrot sticks and sauté for 3 - 4 minutes. Add konyakku, bonito flakes and soy sauce. Stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and sesame seeds.

I also had steamed brown rice topped with yukari furikake, 2 boiled shrimps, 1 crunchy umeboshi, beni shoga (pickled ginger), 4 cherry tomatoes topped with purple potato flowers, stir-fried water spinach with XO sauce, stir-fried soy sauce green chili peppers, 1 radish and 2 slices of tamagoyaki.

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I have always liked to look at Japanese New Year's foods or Osechi-ryōri pictures, even though I have never had the chance to personally see and taste it myself. Everything in the osechi boxes always seems to be so prettily arranged and the combination of colours is just breathtaking. I hope my osechi bento has somehow managed to capture the essence and style of Japanese osechi.

Anyway, as I promised last week, I use my newest bento box from CasaBento to present my osechi bento.

This bento box is truly beautiful and definitely a keeper for people who love traditional bento boxes. Nevertheless I have to warn you that this box is not a box that you would like to carry around to school or work, and is more intended for elegant food presentation to impress your guests or when you want to celebrate something special at home.

There are four separate compartments which are stacked on top of each other.

As you can see from the picture above, the chance of food leaking or spilling is too high. If you are looking for portable bento boxes, this bento box is not for you. But if you are into elegant and sophisticated Japanese-style bento boxes which are pleasing to the eye and don't mind to limit this bento box for home-use only, then I can only recommend you to buy it.

This box is called Sakura Appetizer Bento and costs €27,99. CasaBento ships worldwide and they pay the custom taxes/import duties for you, which I think is a real great service, as I can only say that I hate paying custom taxes! - I recently bought a bag from the US and had to pay €100 for  Zoll (German custom tax) :(!!

As you can see there are quite a lot of food items in the four boxes, but I didn't need very long to make this osechi bento since I used both yesterday's lefover and some frozen foods - I love to make a big batch of something (e.g. dumplings, ebi fry, etc) and freeze them for future use.

Top boxes: Ebi fry, shiu mai, cherry tomatoes, asparagus sticks, octopus salad, soy sauce egg and grapes on sticks.

Bottom boxes: Shrimp temari sushi with brown rice, tamagoyaki and leftover turkey/calamari stir-fry.

I bought some new cookie cutters a few weeks ago, one of them is a beagle cookie cutter, which I think is very cute, unfortunately my beagle puppies don't really look like beagles ;), next time I should add some brown spots to make them look more like a beagle.

The two puppies are made out of cheese and nori and the pink parts are ham. I used a nori punch to cut out the nori details. The rice looks white in the pictures, but it's actually steamed brown rice - I have started to get quite fond of brown rice, which is great :)!

I am sure you know by now how I made those two orange flowers - cookie cutter magic :)! They are blanched carrot and mozzarella cheese by the way.

The sides include stir-fried bok choy (or pak choy - not sure myself) with soy sauce and sesame oil and stir-fried combo of calamari rings and turkey breast seasoned with store-bought Chinese " 8 treasures spicy pickled sauce". There is also a small ham flower hiding behind the calamari/turkey stir-fry and a cherry tomato which I quartered to garnish the bento meal.

By the way, a few months ago, a Singaporean reporter contacted me and asked if she could use some of my bento tutorials  for her newspaper articles. I of course felt very honoured and agreed to it...:)!! Two of my bento tutorials were published yesterday (11th May 2012) and last week (4th May 2012). The tutorials were taken from my Mini Bento: Chi Chai Monchan post and Two Bears in the Forest bento post.

The newspaper itself is called MyPaper, which is a bilingual (Chinese/English) newspaper and is actually catered for professionals, executives and businessmen - will these people be interested in looking at bento tutorials, I wonder ;)??

You can look at the electronic version of my bento articles over here at MyPaper. You have to click the articles from 11/05/12 and 04/05/12. Unfortunately the articles are only in Chinese (which, shame on me, I don't understand - I am a Chinese descendant and used to learn Chinese too at uni for a year, alas I don't remember a single thing but those basics 'How are you?' and 'Thank you" :(.

 Tomorrow's bento will be big, so stay tuned :)!

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Ever since I made the Angry Birds bento using Babybel cheese, I have always wanted to make little chicks out of Babybel. I am lucky enough to be able to get yellow Babybel cheese as easily as the red one. I hope that one day there would be more colours offered in Germany, like green, blue or purple. I find Babybel quite versatile for bento making and it is easy to work on.

This bento is meant to be for snack, that's why it mainly consists of fruit (and cheese). I actually wanted to make a big bento today since I received  a wonderful, new bento box from CasaBento around 2 weeks ago, but in the end I decided not to do so, as the box is really quite big and I wouldn't be able to finish eating all the things inside. But next weekend when I have more motivation and energy, I will do a review on the bento box below :).

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I haven't made any bentos for more than a week and thought that I wouldn't make any until the weekend, but the weather today is so good (i.e. sunny and warm), I just couldn't resist making one. The bento is pretty simple though, as I made this after work - so not so much energy left ;). I will bring this bento to work tomorrow.

The content itself is pretty healthy: stir-fried whole-wheat spaghetti, sauteed with garlic, chili, green onions and shrimps, stir-fried water spinach seasoned with soy sauce, oyster sauce and pepper, kimchi and egg.

The bunny stamp is made out of purple potato, cheese, nori and carrot.

I know I told you all that I wanted to eat more low-carb and even had started making a few low-carb bentos, but to be honest after trying to eat low-carb for the second time within two years, I have to say that this type of eating life style is really not for me and it will not work for me - I would end up getting crazy if I should go on...:)! But people do keep saying different things anyway, making you totally confused in the end. Some people are absolutely against low-carb and say that it's unhealthy and others say the opposite: carb makes you fat, it is unwholesome and we should rely more on protein and consume very little carb per day. I do get irritated whenever I read different things every few months...! Probably I should just try to adapt the Japanese eating lifestyle - which I would have no problem with since I adore Japanese foods (although I surely have to decrease the amount of delicious tempura, chicken karaage or tonkatsu that I consume...;)!!). Looking at the Japanese, I can't actually really believe that carb is something evil - rice is their staple food and they are known to be noodle lovers too. I suppose in the end everything is just about moderation - which means eating in smaller portions.

Oh well,  let me stop my rambling speech... and grrr, it's almost 20.00, I have to go to bed in a few hours...:( - at least it's still sunny... and the weekend is on its way :)!

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