Yesterday (Aug 30th), my sister and I participated in a Fashion Show to benefit a local Autism organization. My family goes to the hair salon that hosted the show and a few weekends ago I received a frantic call from my mother — she had volunteered me to walk on the runway, representing the 1940s (the show was “Fashion through the Eras” and had 1920s, 40s, 60s, 80s, Present, and Future styles). I went to the training on the 16th and then more models dropped out and I was asked to volunteer my sister. I convinced my sister to join the Show because she had done fashion shows before for Girl Scouts and I liked the idea of having someone there that I knew to be there with me. I don’t use this salon so I didn’t know anyone here. My sister represented the 1920s, which was perfect because she had a flapper outfit from the year prior!

Long story short, my sister is shy. I made this bento to give her something to look forward to and to calm her nerves. Plus I love making and planning bento (seriously, I was planning this bento all week) and since she started college recently, she’s been getting into bento as well. I bought this bento off of Yahoo! Japan for like $5. There wasn’t anything for size comparison (though I should have read 重箱/ピクニック遠足…) and when I received it I was surprised at the size. This was the perfect opportunity to use it and I love the fact that it’s clear and that the lid is raised up so bento items that stick up can still fit when the box is closed. I felt so proud when people were asking us “who made it?”, “where did you buy it?”, and when I replied that I made it, everyone was so shocked and exclaimed it was “sooo cute!” and “a shame to eat!”. I assured them I had taken plenty of pictures before handing the box to my sister.


This bento contains (from top left, clockwise):

  • Wheat peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam sandwiches
  • Okonomiyaki sauces (orange container)
  • Nashi bears
  • Okonomiyaki balls
  • Inari-zushi
  • Shilla Nayitae Roll cake
  • Char Siu Bao
  • 2 Mini-onigiri made with homemade furikake (radish leaf/bonito and carrot/sesame)
  • Center: Homemade pickled radishes and bonito flakes (penguin)
  • Voseges Chocolates (silver squares)

My sister and I both have blood sugar problems so i made sure to tuck in some interesting chocolates if we needed energy throughout the long day (12pm-7pm). The flavors were things like curry, chili, bacon, and so on. I also brought a diet citrus tea for us to share.

In preparation for this bento, I envisioned the box much larger than it was and had planned much more things to go inside. I was able to take my time and plod along while making this bento on Sunday morning. It took me about one and a half to two hours to make, but I was cleaning as I was cooking.  All in all, this was a great success in my opinion! We didn’t finish all of this though (cake, bao, and onigiri went uneaten).

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Miso-Marinated Fish, Pickled Radish Onigiri Bentos


Sandwich & Creme Brulee

Aug 24th – I made some homemade jam and ate a sandwich of it. Cute elephant baran! The mini crème brûlée is from my friend Stephanie, who nicely gifted it to me last Friday. I thought it was going to taste like peanut butter from the look of it, but it actually tasted like lemon.


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Aug 25th – I was especially efficient on Monday evening and packed up two and a half bentos using the leftover miso rockfish, edamame, and some rice I had frozen earlier to make onigiri. The onigiri is just plain rice with some pickled radishes inside and small strips of nori outside. I used a smaller onigiri mold that I got from Hana Market a while ago to make these. They fit much better than the other onigiri mold I had (now living at my sister’s house).


082609_1Aug 26th – I had training all day at a building I’d never been to before. The location the training was at has horrible, expensive food so I packed a wonderful bento! I love this new bento because the bottom tier holds so much and the top tier has a very useful divider. I also like the way the light shines through the bento because the plastic is translucent. Top is rice with sesame seeds sprinkled on top, bottom is edamame, raisins, pickled radish, and miso rockfish. Spiced Mate/Apricot Caramel Torte tea and a mini-CLIF bar.

Aug 27th – No Bento. Just a homemade egg salad sandwich and a Shilla strawberry/cream cheese croissant.


Aug 28th – Mini onigiri, Luna bar, honeydew mochi (Not pictured:  lemon chiffon yogurt). This was just a snackish lunch since I didn’t feel like making anything Thursday night and this onigiri had been made Monday.

Miso-Marinated Broiled Fish (西京焼き)


This is the first time I’ve participated in La Fuji Mama‘s Washoku Warriors series. I’ve been following her site for the past several months, before Washoku Warriors begain, but I didn’t really see a reason (read: kept forgetting) to join until I purchased Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen myself. Then I saw all the amazing recipes contained within, but needed that extra catalyst to get the creative juices flowing. Washoku Warriors is a great way to challenge yourself as well as learn about other bloggers out there.

This is a great dish to make because it’s ちょ~和食 (sooo traditional Japanese cooking). This dish is what comes to mind when thinking about traditional Japanese cuisine. Saikyou Yaki (西京焼き) means to cook a slice of fish that has been fermented in Saikyou miso (西京味噌に漬け込んだ魚の切り身を焼いた料理). Before refrigeration, using miso was one of the popular ways to preserve fish.

This dish takes a lot of miso because you are basically burying the fish in miso to prevent anything from the outside environment coming in contact with it. Washoku includes an alternate marinade that you can use instead of this longer one, but I like the original method better. This way, there’s less prep time on the actual day of preparation and you can make it 1-3 days in advance when you have a spare pocket of time.

This was also my first time cooking with fresh fish, from start to finish. Washoku recommends salmon (sake), saberfish (tachiuo), kingfish (sawara), and black cod (gindara) as types of fish to use with this preparation. We eat salmon often and our fishmonger had none of the fish recommended. White cod was available, but I opted for the marbled rockfish (kasago) since it was more like black cod in texture and similar to salmon in taste. Since this dish was for two people instead of the four to six servings in the book, we got .69 lbs of fish, which was plenty.

Saikyou Yaki Kasago (西京焼き笠子)

  • ¾ lbs fish fillet with skin
  • 1¼-1½ c. light miso (20 tbsp)
  • 1/8 c. mirin
  • ½ tbsp. lemon or orange zest
  • cheesecloth

Rinse the fish under cold water and pat dry. Combine marinade ingredients and mix well. Use half of your marinade and spread it along the bottom of your non-reactive marinade dish. Fold cheesecloth in half and lay overtop of the marine and press gently, leaving enough cheesecloth un-used to fold on top of fish in later steps. Put fish on top of cheesecloth and fold the extra cloth over the fish. Spread the remaining marinade over the cloth and cover with a layer of plastic wrap. Even out the miso through the plastic wrap layer. Cover marinade container if you have a lid. Marinade at room temperature for six hours or for one to three days (miso flavor becomes stronger the longer it marinates).

When ready to cook, remove cheesecloth and miso and broil fish skin-side up 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook 2-3 minutes on the other side. You can serve with rice, pickled vegetables, or soup.

I really liked this recipe because it only has four ingredients! Miso, citrus zest, mirin, and fish. It was also very easy to make because the miso marinade did all the work for me. I don’t think I’ll use this certain technique again because the half portion recipe used up almost my whole container of miso. Not that miso is expensive or anything, but I was surprised that I had to scoop out twenty tablespoons of the stuff. My miso container was looking quite sad afterwards. The rockfish was a great fish. It had the flavor of salmon but the texture of black cod (supposedly, I’ve never had black cod, but that’s what the fishmonger told us). I may have cooked the fish a little too long because it seemed a little dry or tough for my boyfriend. I’m really glad I tried this recipe, but I don’t think I’ll make it again unless I chose to make it with a cheaper fish. We really don’t buy fresh fish in our house often, so it was a splurge. A little over ten dollars for less than a pound of your main protein is expensive when you’re living on a budget.

I served the fish with steamed rice sprinkled with sesame seeds (goma), edamame, lemon wedges, and two types of pickled radish. The lighter radish is daikon and the darker is traditional radish, and both were home pickled. My boyfriend also chose to add some spicy cashews that I made earlier in the week.

Mine Closeup of Miso Fishie Boyfriend's

Strawberry Freezer Jam


Can you believe this is homemade? And the most time consuming part was actually cutting the fruit! I picked these jars up (Ball® Collection Elite® Wide Mouth Pint (16 oz) Jars with Lids and Bands) in a 4-pack at our local Wegmans. I liked the other styles and sizes better, but I didn’t want to buy 12 or 24 jars because of lack of open space in our apartment.

I bought one container of strawberries, which yielded 2 cups of fruit, mixed it with 4 cups of sugar, a pouch of Sure-Jell pectin, and set out overnight at room temperature (after following directions on the Sure Jell insert). I then refrigerated the jars (this recipe made about 3 jars of jam). The jam was a little too syrupy (impatience?), so I froze it and it worked great! Not thick like jelly or preserves, but great on toast and sandwiches. Truth be told, I was inspired by The Bitten Word (and SeriousEats since they were featured there as well) and the fact that I was trying to make strawberry syrup for my pickling experiment. More on that later…

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Kung Pao Tofu, Broccoli Salad

Kung Pao Tofu, Broccoli/Carrot Slaw, Rice with Basil

August 13th – Thankfully, this was the last of the kung pao tofu. I think from now on I won’t take short cuts with my fried tofu! (Unless it’s frozen and I’m using it in a Japanese dish). The broccoli/carrot slaw is mixed with some raisins and coconut lime dressing per the bag’s suggestion, but it just didn’t turn out right at all. The rice to the left has a home grown (boyfriend’s mom) basil leaf on it!