bento #66: japanese curry with shrimp


Last time I made Japanese curry I used Vermont brand mix, and I thought the results were a little insipid. This time I tried Golden, Japan’s best-selling brand. I can see why, it definately has a better, more complex flavor. Like Vermont, it’s not a powder but a compressed paste that’s a littler harder than butter and a little softer than baking chocolate. You break it into pieces (it comes in a segmented bar, like a Hershey bar), and dissolve it in the pot after you’ve simmered the veggies and meat. It will thicken nicely after a few minutes of stirring, and a little more once it stands for a bit.

Although the package claimed to be “med. hot”, Japanese curry tends to be more sweet, with the flavor of apples and honey, than hot. Or maybe they just don’t make it hot on its own so that everyone can adjust it to their own taste? Either way, I added a little extra cayenne pepper to give it some heat.

  • Steamed rice and Japanese curry with shrimp. Also a hardboiled egg, because it never hurts to have a little more protein.
  • Carrot & celery sticks (I had lots of both leftover from what I bought to put in the curry) with ranch dressing.
  • Tangerine.
  • Chocolate-orange cookies.

bento #65: simple lunch for a short week


  • Tuna salad with cucumber & dill.
  • Hardboiled egg.
  • Carr’s cheese melt crackers.
  • Candied limes.
  • Green grapes.

bento #64: happy new year!


First bento of the year! I didn’t do one last week because the previous weekend was the weekend I got home, and there just wasn’t any time to plan a menu and shop for it.

Nothing new or particularly exciting in this one, but rather a few old favorites:

  • Omurice and octodogs with catsup. The egg has a little soy sauce in it, hence the slightly dingy color. And I boiled the octodogs for once, instead of just nuking them, so the “tentacles” actually are a little curly.
  • Veggies with ranch (it’s under there somewhere).
  • Homemade hot & sour soup with shitake mushrooms and water chestnuts, and LOTS of white wine vinegar and Mongolian fire oil.
  • Tangerine, and chocolate-orange Pocky.

bento #63

Last bento of the year! On Sunday I fly out to Louisiana to spend the holidays with my family, and I won’t be back until the first week of January. I did pretty well this year, I only missed 2 weeks, and one of them was because I was out of town for my sister’s wedding.


  • Mini patties made with ground turkey and parmesan cheese.
  • Sourdough “buns”.
  • Pickle slices and catsup & mustard.
  • Baby yellow carrots with ranch dressing.
  • Green grapes.
  • Capuchino wafer cookies.

bento #62: spam & snow pea “flowers”


I don’t normally do “designs”, it’s not really my thing. But here’s a simple one, for a change of pace: Spam and snow pea “flowers” on a bed of plain fried rice (egg mixed with soy sauce, and green onions).

Also some veggies with ranch, peanuts (for a little more protein, otherwise I’ll be starving by dinnertime), and a momiji manju cake. That’s a spongy cake made with rice flour and buckwheat, with a filling of sweet red bean paste. There was also a honey tangerine that didn’t make it into the photo.

bento #61: bacon-wrapped scallops


I’ve been having a craving for scallops, and by a wonderful coincidence Safeway had them for a great price ($9.99 per pound) when I went shopping.

  • Bacon-wrapped scallops.
  • Hummus with parmesan-garlic Triscuits.
  • Sweet white corn.
  • Veggie havarti cubes with cherry tomatoes.
  • White peach jellies.

To make the scallops:

  1. Partially cook one slice of bacon for each scallop.
  2. Wrap each scallop in a slice of bacon and skewer them 3 to a skewer.
  3. Drip a little melted butter on them, then sprinkle on a little brown sugar and a TINY amount of red pepper. You don’t want it to burn your face off or overpower the delicate flavor of the scallops; you just want a little heat to provide an interesting contrast.
  4. Broil for 3 minutes, turn over, put butter and sugar and pepper on other side, and broil 3 minutes more.

This is for large scallops, large enough that a whole piece of bacon barely meets at either end. For the small ones, you probably want to alternate scallops and small pieces of bacon on the skewer, and broil for 2 minutes a side.

bento #60: spinach noodles with men tsuyu sauce & pork and black mushroom dumplings

bento 60

  • Bottom: Heirloom cherry tomato mix and D’Anjou pear slices.
  • Top: Pork and black mushroom dumplings.
  • Orange sidecar: Spinach noodles with men tsuyu sauce*.
  • Red sidecar: Orange quadratini cookies. These must be popular in Asia, because I find flavors in Asian supermarkets I never see anywhere else, not even World Market. I’ve even seen tiramisu flavor!
  • Not pictured: Instant miso soup.

* Slice about half a dozen shitake mushrooms (if dried, reconstitute first) and boil over medium heat in 2 cups of water for a few minutes. Add 1/2 cup each soy sauce and white wine, 2 tbs. sugar, and a little fresh grated ginger and sliced green onions. Boil until alcohol is cooked out. Dip a half cup of the sauce into a bowl, stir in 2 tsps. cornstarch, and return to pot. Stir until it thickens.

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