I recently bought two bento books. They are written in Japanese by a blogger.
Masakichi makes bento for herself everyday. According to her book, she cooks the foods for her bento in the morning, lets them cool, packs them, then photographs the bento for her blog...then she goes to work.
I like that most of these recipes are for one or two people and I also like that most of these recipes are really easy.
So far, I've tried 2 recipes from her book, "Bento wa jinsei da (Bento is life)"
The first was her simple pickle recipe...really easy and I like the flavors.
Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it:
Veggies of your choice (cucumber, red bell pepper, carrot, onion are what I chose), cut into easy to eat pieces
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
1.5 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
Place your cut veggies into a sterilized bottle
Bring pickling liquid to a boil, sugar & salt should be melted, then pour over veggies
Add the pepper and cumin seed
After the bottle is cooled, cover and refrigerate
Here's what the pickles look like after a day of soaking...here.
NOTES: I like the crunch these pickles have and the flavor, there is just enough pucker and the cumin isn't overpowering.
The other recipe I tried was her green bean o-kaka-ni.
"O-kaka" is another name used for katsuo bushi (shaved bonito). They usually use this name when labeling musubi. "ni" means to simmer.
This recipes is really easy too and really flavorful.
Here's what you need to do if you want to try this:
10 green beans (haricot vert), tops and bottoms cut off, washed
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1.5 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
1/2 tablespoon sake (rice wine)
2 teaspoons shoyu (soy sauce)
1/2 package katsuo bushi (shaved bonito) : about 2.5 grams
After cleaning, washing and drying the beans, cut them in half.
In a medium heated pan, add the sesame oil and toss the beans to coat
Then add the water, mirin, sake & shoyu, turn the heat down to low.
Place an oshibuta (drop lid) on top and cook until all the liquid has evaporated.
Sprinkle the katsuo bushi on and toss.
NOTES: I really liked the flavor from this, a little salty and a little sweet, definitely good with rice.
I hope to try more recipes from these books.
What have you been up to in your kitchen?
p.s. if you want to check out Masakichi's blog, the link is here (in Japanese)