Triple Pan – my best friend in the morning

No.177

このブログ記事には日本語版『強い味方のお話』もあります。こちら
This blog post is also available in Japanese.

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After the rain that was incessant, the Sun came out. All over sudden the tree’s yellow leaves were all turning into golden beauty. It was so pretty.

 

We turn the clocks back on Sunday and the winter time will start here in Norway. It is surely getting dark, the Sun does not come up until a little past 08:00 AM. When I get up in the morning, it is pitch dark, not so encouraging for me to get up and start working on my bento for the day….  my bed is so nice and warm. I have no hesitation to say my bed is the coziest place in the world right now! I look at the clock and oh well, it is time to get up.

I go to my kitchen and take my “best friend” fry pan out and say “Good morning. Time to work, dear!”  It is my Triple Cooking Pan. Such a great cookware!

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Good to have some pre boiled potatoes in your fridge, even if it is a left-over from last night is just fine. I cut it up into 4 slices with the skin on and place them on the hot pan.  Then I crack 2 eggs and mix with Japanese savory stock DASHI, sugar, salt and soy sauce to make Dashimaki Tamago in the middle section. I have made criss-cross slits on mini sausages and I like to grill them crisp. I see potatoes need to be turn over and I do that quickly. After I rolled up the omelet I place thinly sliced red onion rings. In order to make more space, I transfer the omelet to a plate.  I grab salt and pepper shakers and put some seasonings on them. I know some smoked cheese is waiting on a cutting board on my counter and I will not forget to put them on the hot potatoes….  Cheese is getting soft from the heat. Just wait a minute or so, and my bento will be ready…

 

I really love this pan. What is so good about this pan is that you can cook differently seasoned food at the same time. Energy saving, he may add. Time saving, she may praise.

 

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You may already have the same pan in your kitchen and are enjoying it as much as I am.

If not, I hope you can join us. It is a great cookware for bento makers.

xxx Rie

Triple Pan is available at Bento&co.

 

 

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Shokado Bento

No.168

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Shokado Bento is a bento served in a classic Shokado-style bento box which is usually square and is divided into 4 sections by a separable cross-grid inset and genuinly or imitatively lacquered in black or red. Now I have 7 Japanese Shokado bento boxes at home, 5 are square that came in a set and the remaining 2 are a bit different, they are rectangular with 3 divided sections. I love these boxes and their differences, I enjoy arranging my food in these boxes for parties and lunches. I once served dinners in these boxes and it made a very memorable evening with our friends. You can maybe easily imagine how my guests looked like when they opened the lid of their Shokado Bento box…. a beginning of food entertainment!

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Shokado Bento boxes are quite larger than our regular bento boxes of daily use. While we try to be very space-effective to pack food rather tightly in a small space of our usual bento box to prevent the food from moving around while carrying to work and school, it seems to me each section of Shokado Bento box is like an individual universe in which we can freely create our own food creation. If you like to fill all 4 sections of Shokado Bento box fully with just food, you will need almost 2-3 times as much food as a regular bento box. It is indeed a big bento box and the volume of the food is much more than a normal adult can eat for a lunch. Just like many of you, I hate to waste food. When trying to pack an usual volume of food in a big box like Shokado Bento box, you will need to deal with extra space.  If you are a very experienced skillful cook and can use the space as a garnish for the food in your presentation, it is fine.  But to most of you beginners or intermediates,  I like to recommend to use small bowls, glasses and plates in Shokado Bento, they are not only helpful to fill the space but also they will make your presentation look more special.

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I have 2 wooden mini bowls with lid, one in black and the other in red. It is very fun to use this bowl to serve a simmered dish and its delicious broth together in it. The lid will keep it warm as well and I just love this little open-the-lid excitement to give my guests.

Shokado Bento was originally created to be served at tea ceremonies in Japan and it has a very close relation to the Japanese culture of tea ceremony. I think Shokado Bento started originally as a humble bento and the portion of the food in each section was usually small as the main feature of Japanese tea ceremony is not the food but something else, even invisible spiritual thing.

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Based on the common rule of Shokado style bento arrangement, I arrange rice in the lower left section and grilled or fried meat or fish in either or both of the upper sections. When I use all 4 sections to serve side dishes for a party dinner, a bowl of rice and a bowl of soup will be served alongside.  I usually prepare different dishes paying attention to the colors and the season. Green, yellow, red, brown, white and orange are represented by seasonal vegetables and savory meat and fish dishes.  As my Shokado Bento box is entirely black in color, I like to brighten up with light-colored plates and bowls. We eat with eyes, and that is more true about Shokado Bento.  Even if the section is not completely filled with food and there is much space around the food, you may not necessarily feel it is scarce. Probably because your eyes were so well fed by the beautiful presentation and you were touched by the cook’s spirit behind the work?

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Shokado Bento is a special bento, it goes beyond cooking a meal and eating it. It is almost so spiritual that I am so sure you will feel the hospitality which the cook has put into the food and the arrangements. When you have a chance to make a Shokado Bento, please take your time to plan the bento well. My advise for you is to use your all creativity and hospitality and make a special Shokado Bento.

xxx Rie

 

The first bento

No. 157

This post is also available in Japanese はじめて作るお弁当

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Now I have 2 blog sites, one is here in English and I started one in Japanese 4 days ago. To my happy surprise, my Japanese blog has been visited by more than 1,000 people in last 4 days. I was wondering where in the world these people were coming from?? It is always nice to get a good communication through blogs and today I received a wonderful comment from Canada! She is Anna, a Japanese girl studying there, and I want to share it with you :

Hello Rie-san (* ^^ *)
I am writing a comment for the first time. I am now in Canada studying at an University, soon my first year will end. The most painful thing to me in this first year was food. I really missed my Japanese food. I realized that my ordinary food I was eating in Japan was such a great treat and I did not know it until I left Japan and came here. I missed Japanese food so much that I lost weight in the beginning but now I have found delicious food here as well, I am very healthy! Lol

Recently I was looking at great food photos on Instagram and I found you! The food you create looks so beautiful and healthy, it is really amazing! Now I am living in the schools dormitory and can not cook as there is no kitchen attached in my room. But I will move into an apartment from this coming spring and I am looking forward to cooking. Then I will refer to your recipes♡

Your photos reminded me again bento is great! Thank you!
Anna

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Thank you! I was so happy to receive such a nice comment! Maybe some of you may know I have 1 daughter, she is also an university student studying in the United States. As another Japanese-food-lover and as a mom, I could understand Anna’s feelings and her missing Japanese food. My daughter is in the senior year now but I remember she had the same problem in her first year. She then just realized that she had to cook it by herself if she wanted to eat something she liked. 3 1/2 years have passed and now my daughter is cooking and baking very much.

I think there are things you can only see when you leave your home nest and take a look at it from outside. Especially in a country like Japan, there are so many convenient and useful things around you and people take them for granted. But I believe those things you rediscovered while you were away will certainly change your point of view when you come back and make you appreciate more things you have not normally been paying attention to before. What a great living study!

If my bento or cooking can be of any help, I am very glad. Please take good care of yourself and have a wonderful student life in Canada, Anna-san.

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Soon it is March (time flies!). In Japan a school year ends in March. Graduation ceremonies are many, people start a new life with the arrival of cherry blossoms. Those who will leave home and start living on their own are preparing their new life, a cute cooking pot, 1 mug cup and 1 plate, a small electric rice cooker for 1 person. There are school cafeterias and company cantinas, but why not try a bento time to time?

Norwegian universities do have school cafeterias too but I heard from my daughter that it was very expensive. A dinner costs more than 100 NOK (13 US dollars/11.6 Euro) and it is not the best taste. The school she is attending now in US has larger selection, they have pizza, chinese food and even sushi but you get tired of them if you eat it every single day and the portion is rather large and you have to watch your weight! There are many good things about bento and I think one of the most important one is that you can control both the amount and the quality of the food you eat.

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This photo shows you my daughter’s bento box collection. Right, she loves Hello Kitty.

In order to enjoy a good bento life, I think choosing a right bento box for you is very important. If it is too small for you, you will still be hungry and end up buying something. If it is too large you may find you spending time and money to fill the box unnecessarily. If you are a women with normal appetite, I think a box with a volume around 600-700 ml might serve well. Like this set of 3 boxes in different sizes is also very convenient as you can combine and be flexible.

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If you are a beginner of cooking, it might be hard to begin with. But what I want to recommend you is that you try anyway and start with a food ingredient that is very familiar with you. Ham, tuna, I think it is not such a bad idea to use sometimes frozen food or ready-made food. Most people have eggs in the fridge? You can make scrambled eggs with butter and add green onions, a sunny side up on a hot frying pan is good, you can put a slice of cheese on top and melt it. When you master Tamagoyaki in Japanese way, you are getting very good! When you fry an egg on a frying pan, you can sautee green peppers and ham beside the egg. Another dish will be completed in a minute! (It goes very fast so don’t forget salt and pepper!)

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Don’t be discouraged by mistakes. Never mind and just keep on going. Some people may be so good and can make a successful bento on the first day but if you are getting better gradually through your failures and mistakes I think you will be a person with rich experiences.

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Your first bento. Are you wondering when you will start?
I hope you will give a try!

xxx Rie