4 Bento Okazu recipes

No.211

Thursday January 18, 2018

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Really we have lots of snow this year, I am very much looking forward to spring.  When it is so cold outside people in Norway really get good at creating a nice and cozy and warm home.  Really life style and weather has such a strong relationship!

Last night I was spending some quality time in my kitchen, it is the nicest, coziest and warmest place in my home for me and I really enjoyed cooking our dinner and I made some vegetable dishes for my bento.

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– Cucumber sweet and sour salad, soy sauce-base dressing
– Sweet and Savory Celery
– Carrot Salad

No.1 
1 big cucumber is sliced thinly, I use a slicer. Put a little bit of salt and mix, leave it in fridge for 20 min.  Squeeze out water and put it in a salad bowl. Mix with this dressing :
vinegar  1 table spoon
soy sauce 1/2 table spoon
sugar 1/2 table spoon

No.2
3 stalks of celery are sliced thinly. Heat a frypan, add sesame oil and sautee celery.
when they are getting soft, put the heat higher and add this sauce and mix well.
soy sauce  1 table spoon
sugar  1/2 table spoon
mirin   1 table spoon

 

No.3
3 small carrots are peeled and cut into small julienne. Put some salt and mix. Leave in the fridge for 20 min.  Squeeze out water and mix with this dressing :
sesame oil   1/2 table spoon
garlic powder  1 tea spoon
white pepper and white sesame seeds
soy sauce   1 1/2 tea spoons

These keep well in your fridge for 3-4 days and make great Okazu for your bento!

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The main dish in my bento today was Japanese Pork Ginger.

I used a pork loin filet, about 500g. Cut them about 1 cm thick, put salt and pepper and leave for 10 min.  Coat with flour (thinly). Heat a fry pan, add some vegetable oil. Fry them on both sides. Then add this sauce :

sugar   2 tea spoons
soy sauce   2 table spoons
mirin   1 1/2 table spoons
Sake  1 table spoons
fresh ginger   about 3/4 table spoons   if you like ginger, you can put more

———
Pork Ginger can be a very good dinner dish, you can make a little extra and put it in your bento next day.  These dishes with this sweet and savory sauce and dressing get better overnight, it is so helpful to have these Okazu ready at hand, you can pack your bento much faster.

Hope you can try!!

xxx Rie

 

 

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Chicken + herbs = good bento okazu

No.210

Monday January 15, 2018

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Now I am in the middle of busy planning phase for my new bathroom and kitchen.
Yay, it has been SO FUN! (but very busy…) In addition to choosing different drawers and cabinets, colors are also my big issue these days. It seems like gray kitchens have been so popular all over the world, I see SO MANY pictures of stylish gray kitchens on Instagram and Pinterest. Personally I think gray is a kind of tricky color. Because there are so many different tones of gray, some are darker, some have brown or even purple tone in it, and it is kind of tricky to decide after you have seen just a tiny little sample sheet of gray paint…. But if you put light gray with light white, it is so pretty! I love this combination! And since there is this ultimate beautiful counter top of marble stone in grayish color, I think gray kitchen cabinets will stay popular for a long long time.

Color combination and food pairing have similarities. It is either :
1) Ingredients enhance each other or
2) Ingredients kill each other

Hmmm….

Many of well-known bad examples are with milk products. Milk + herbs (milk kills the fragile essence of the herbs), milk + Edamame, milk + pineapples are very well known. Wine + cucumber (did you know?), deep fried food + water melon (did you knowwww?) are also known. In Japan we have many interesting examples, we say we do not pair eel and pickled plums, crabs + persimmons, brown sugar and bamboo shoots. Funny.

There are many good combinations, and here is one example.

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Chicken + herb = good bento okazu. 🙂 Here I am using fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, bacon, flour. Fry with olive oil, sautee red onion on the side. You can use maybe basil or parsley too. Adding lemon won’t be too bad either, I think.

Good luck!
xxx Rie

Gobo, Burdock Root, Salsifis

No.197

We are lucky to have this vegetable in Norway, it is called Gobo (牛蒡)in Japanese and Storborre or Storborrerot in Norwegian. I think it is called Burdock Root in English and Salsifis in French. If I am making a mistake here, please let me know, I will correct it!!

I buy Gobo at Mega Coop in Bekkestua, this is my little shopping tips for you who live in Oslo 🙂 but I am sure there are other stores in town who sell it.  It is kind of a super mysterious vegetable for many Norwegian, they once told me that it is nothing but a weed and they could not think of it as a food they eat.

In Japan we eat Gobo all year around. It may not look so elegant,

 

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but it is a healthy vegetable!

The biggest difference between Japanese Gobo and the one I get here is the fragrance.
Japanese Gobo is a lot more fragrant and the skin part is much thinner. This is a root vegetable. When the soil and the climate is so different I think a lot of root vegetables are of its own charactor (except for carrot and onion).

I remove the skin part by scrubbing with a clean scourer. You can also use and scrape with the spine of your kitchen knife but be careful with the blade. Wash and clean it with water and you should cut it right away as it starts discoloration.

Prepare a big bowl of water and add 1/2 tea spoon of vinegar in it.
Whittle the Gobo and shave it like you sharpen a pencil

 

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and soak the shaves into the bowl. After 4-5 minutes, the water has turned its color to brownish, you can take Gobo shaves out of the water and pat dry.

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Heat a fry pan, add sesame oil and sautee with carrots and season.
– 200g Gobo
– 30g carrot
– Sugar 1 table spoon
– Mirin 1 table spoon
– Soy sauce 2 table spoons

Sprinkle some white sesame seeds before serving and here is a very typical Japanese dish called “Kinpira Gobo” 

It makes a good side dish in your bento as well.

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Bon Appetit!
xxx Rie