Saturday, September 29, 2007


Takoyaki is my one of my favorites too. It's made of a flour batter with Tako, Tenkasu (Tempura or rice crispies), Green onions, chopped cabbage and benishoga (red ginger).
The making of Takoyaki is a complicated process if one has never seen it. Terri asked for this recipe and I had wanted to take some photographs and post it onto my blog.

I asked #2 to help me take the photos and she quipped "Mum! There are loads of "how to's" on You Tube, why do you have to do this?" *Ting! - light bulb lights up - rings a bell!*
"You are right! I said." I'll just take shots of the ingredients and the utensils required for making Takoyaki. For the actual process, please view the You Tube link above. It's much easier than if I write it down.

One of the main ingredients is the Tako. However, you can also replace with prawns if you wish.

Pictures below shows ready mix takoyaki flour. Left one from 100 Yen shop and right one from Jaya Jusco under the Top Value brand.

  • 4/5 cup (100g) prepackaged takoyaki mix.
  • 340cc cold water
  • 1 large egg

This is beni shoga.

For the filling:
  • 1/4 lb (120g) boiled octopus (Japanese prefer the tentacles), cut into 1/2″or bite-sized dice.
  • 1/2 cup (18g) tenkasu
  • 1 Tb (6g) beni shoga (red pickled ginger), chopped (optional)
  • half green onion, chopped

Takoyaki sauce on the left.

Aonori flakes on the right.

Katsuobushi below.

For the topping:
  • takoyaki sauce
  • aonori (seaweed flakes)
  • katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
  • Kewpie mayonnaise
  • Make the batter by whisking together the mix and water well, then beating in the egg. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the tenkasu, benishoga and green onion. Keep octopus at hand.
  • If using a nonstick takoyaki pan, heat the pan first, then oil the surface with cooking oil spray, an oil brush or a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. (If using cast iron, oil the pan first, then heat over medium heat.)
Follow the steps in the You Tube link (above) to cook. There itself is a recipe provided. I haven't tried that recipe yet, if you try it please let me know how it turned out.

You need either a cast iron takoyaki pan (like mine below) or a non-stick, electric one as shown in the You Tube link. You also need a pair of long satay sticks to pick and roll the takoyaki. It's really very simple so don't be put off by the thought that it looks difficult, it's not.

After the takoyaki balls are ready, place on a plate and drizzle generously, the Takoyaki sauce, Kewpie Mayo, Aonori and Katsuobushi on top and serve warm.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bento #35

This morning I made a vegetable and fruit tortilla wrap. There were two slices of Bega cheese, some greens, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes and grapes. Topped it with a mixture of thousand island and salad cream.

I toyed with the idea of packing a mixed salad but looking at the size of the box, I had second thoughts. The salad and fruits wrapped in a tortilla seemed like a more fulfilling meal.

I also packed some Japanese seaweed for her to snack on.

Yesterday #1 went to a Ramadan bazaar and bought back 'ayam percik, roti jala, ayam rendang' and lots of other treats.

#1 likes 'roti jala' very much so I reserved some so that I could pack her some today. Doesn't the rendang look delicious? Indeed, it was delicious!

Before I closed the Bento box, I wrapped a cling wrap around the rendang foil cup because I didn't want it to mess up the 'roti jala'.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Recipe for ODEN

Sometimes I don't know if my blog readers want the recipes to the dishes that I post up and I usually wait until someone asks for it. It takes some effort to put the recipe down and it's a waste to post something up that people may not use.

Anyway, I'm glad Terri asked for this recipe. This is my favorite Japanese dish! Love it, love it love it!!

I've improvised this from the original recipe because it's flavored to suite our palette. The basic recipe is the same except that I've used some local ingredients, otherwise it can get very expensive to eat this on a regular basis. This is quite a big pot of Oden, you may want to half the recipe.
I like my Oden with lots of soup so you need to get ready a big enough pot to contain all these:

5 hard boiled eggs, shell removed (number of eggs according to number of people)
1 whole Japanese Daikon (white raddish)
1 piece of lotus root (lin gau cut into rounds)
2 carrots
4 US potatoes
2 packets of chikuwa (the local ones come in about 1" lengths)
2 packets of Konnyaku(cut lengthwise and then cut into twelve pieces)
2 packets of local fish balls (fried or otherwise)
1 piece Kamaboko (optional if you have enough local fish balls)
2 packets of fish sausages
6 pieces of atsuagé or I prefer to use Abura-age (fried tofu used in Miso soup)
12 pcs of dried Shitake (rinse and soak in hot water for 20 minutes - cut off the stems)
3 packets hanpen (cut into two triangles)

For broth:
12 cups of Dashi
1/4 cup of sake
2 tbsp of sugar
1/2 cup Japanese "light shoyu" - to taste (Usukuchi)
2 soup spoons of fish sauce (optional)

  • Prepare all the ingredients in "A":
  • Hard boil the eggs and remove shell.
  • Skin and cut daikon, carrots, potatoes and lotus root.
  • Soak and cut off the stalks of shitake.
  • Wash all the fish balls and other ingredients.
  • Blanch Abura-age with hot water and cut into half.
  • Konnyaku has to be blanched in hot water for 1-2 minutes before use.

Once all the ingredients are prepared and ready:

  • Prepare a BIG pot
  • Pour the dashi into the pot and add the rest of sake, sugar, shoyu and fish sauce.
  • Leave on medium fire and bring to boil.
  • Meanwhile, put daikon, carrots and lotus root into a pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes. Then add US potatoes (they cook quite fast) in and continue boiling for 2 minutes.
  • Pour away the water and add all the 'root' vegetables into the big pot of stock and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Taste the stock and add shoyu and/or fish sauce to taste.
  • Add in all the rest of the ingredients and allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Don't over-boil, allow to simmer all the time.

Serve hot or cold with prepared Japanese mustard or Dijon Mustard.

Note: You can add seasonal vegetables, chicken or pork into your pot of Oden. Serve with rice or Udon noodles.

I hope I've covered everything. The links are from the ever reliable Wikipedia.

Bento #34

Yesterday, after school, I asked #1 to pump petrol for my car and take #2 to buy some more work books.

After they got back, they came into the house giggling and laughing (must have had a great bonding session). #2 said "Mum!, I'm putting on weight, can I please have more fruits and vegetables in my Bento box?" Before I could respond, she continued, "Look at che-che's belly" (pointing at #1's belly). "Yeah! Mum! Look at my belly!" exclaims #1, especially when I sit down, I have to shift all the excess into my jeans!"
Eh! Go to the gym lah! say I. "I only can go after my PMR! exclaims #2!" "Mum! I am having exams too, exclaims #1!"

"Okay, okay! Got it! I say". More fruits and vegetables you'll get. Surely you're not putting on weight because of my Bento box meals! It must be from all the teas and supper you have with your friends when you go out with them!

Sheepishly #1 says "no mum, I only drink when I go out, I normally don't eat anything". Huh! Don't I know you? All this 'mamak culture' with all the greasy foods. Starbucks and Secret Recipe doesn't help either.

We'll see how to change your menus. *scratches head* Another task ahead....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bento #33

When I packed Bento #32, it was very easy and quick because everything was ready, just needed to put into the Bento.

I try not to do that too often because the kids don't exactly enjoy 'left overs'.

This morning, I got up earlier by 15 minutes because I wanted to prepare Onigiri for them. I cooked the two cups of rice this morning because Onigiri must be prepared with fresh, hot rice.

I made mini Onigiri's in two flavours, one with furikake and the other with tuna mayo filling. Dropped in some cherry tomatoes for color.

The other box had a 'cheezy ham melt' bun and some cut oranges and apples. Simple and filling Bento.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Quick fix lunch!

Sorry there was no Bento post yesterday. Yours truly was coughing the whole night and only slept at 3a.m. By the time it was day break and the alarm rang, yours truly just slept through like a baby.

My poor kids, no Bento yesterday, came home ravenous. I prepared them a decent lunch to make up for oversleeping. They were very sweet, didn't even try to wake mummy up!!

On the top left is Japanese spinach with sesame seed dressing.

Also prepared their all time favourite Tonkatsu! Four of us finished the whole plate. Tonkatsu "Bulldog" sauce was on the side because #1 doesn't like it.

Served the 'evergreen' miso soup with mussels, wakame and abura-age.

Lastly I made a pot of my favourite Oden (eaten with mustard) for dinner, but also served some for lunch. Mmmm...delicious!!

I tried to upload this post last night but it was impossible. The traffic must have been very high at because I couldn't upload my photos until this morning.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Ham Chim Peng"

Occasionally, our Church Parent's group would organize activities such as talks, craft and cooking demonstrations to get the parents to gather and get to know each other.

The cooking demonstrations are normally done by volunteers and organized once a month. Yesterday, I went for the "Ham Chim Peng" demo. Actually they also showed how to make "Kap Choong" - the one with the pulut rice in the middle.

I got home and tried it because I had made a batch of red beans for the Daifuku that I wanted to make. It turned out pretty good. Taste wise was very much like "ham chim peng", visually it looked very much like "ham chim peng" too. I thought I'd share this recipe with you because it's so easy except that the poofing time is quite long.

Here goes:
Flour Dough
150 gms Flour
1 tsp Sugar
1 pkt Instant Yeast
150 ml Lukewarm water
Mix all the above and keep covered for one hour.

A. 600 gm Flour
Flour Dough (the above)
250 gm Sugar

B. 200 ml Water
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2 tbsp Melted butter or softened butter

C. 2 tbsp Fine salt
1 tbsp Five Spice powder

D. 1/2 'Kati' Pulut rice (Pls don't ask why they are using such measurements, I also don't know!)
2 tbsp Sugar

1. Mix "A" evenly and slowly stir in "B" and knead to for a soft dough for about ten minutes. Cover with a piece of cloth until it doubles in size in about one and a half to two hours.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pulut rice "D" as you would normal rice except you need to add the sugar in. After cooked, spoon out to make two rolls (like sushi rolls) of pulut. You need to roll it tightly to firm up otherwise it will break down. My mum said she'd prefer to put salt in than sugar, I think that's a personal choice so up to you.

3. When dough is ready, roll it out into a rectangle (like a swiss roll). Brush the top with water and sprinkle "C" generously and evenly and roll it up like a swiss roll. You can wet the edge to seal it.

4. Cut the rolled dough into 1 inch thick pieces, brush with water on the top and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Leave it for ten minutes to rise a little. Take a rolling pin and roll it a little flat and deep fry.


With Red bean paste filling:
You can divide the 'poofed' dough into small pieces and fill it with red bean paste. Do it just like making 'pau'. Flatten the dough around in a bowl shape and drop a 'ball' of red bean paste and seal. Use flour to prevent sticking. Leave it aside for ten minutes and use rolling pin to flatten before frying.

With pulut rice filling:
Just roll out 1/3 the dough like a swiss roll. Put the cooked pulut 'roll' onto the dough and roll up. Seal the edge with water and cut in 1 inch slices. Roll them flat and leave for ten minutes for it to rise and deep fry.

Note: This recipe for the dough is enough to make all three types of the above if you like. Just divide into three portions and fill with the different filling.

Bento #32

On Sunday School days, local parishioners of our Church would organize food sale for various purposes. Some to be donated to charitable organizations or the Church itself, some go to financing the local BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities - similar to Cell Group) activities and outreach, others for other specific purposes.

Yesterday one of the BECs organized a food sale a.k.a. cafeteria. There were tons of food! Sarawak Laksa was delicious, so was the 'kwai lin kao', everyone selling behind the counter was a friend or acquaintance, so what do you think happend? "Ta Pau lah"!
I came home with lots of 'ta pau'. In the left Bento box are fish balls and 'siew mai' with a tub of chilli sauce (I still have 8 packets of 'loh mai kai' in my freezer). In the right Bento box is a piece of home made 'ham chim peng'. The best thing about the Ramadan period is we get really fresh and juicy dates that flood the market. Two cherry tomatoes to 'color' the Bento box! Today's Bento boxes took me 15 minutes to complete! "What a wonderful world..."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bento Maniac in a "Hyakuen" shop aka 100 Yen shop

I was at the 100 Yen shop today. As always, I'm like a bull in a China shop only I don't break things, I can't stop buying!

I was trilled by the bento boxes that they had. When I looked at the bottom of the boxes I found that some of them were made in CHINA! I immediately called one of their Managers whom I got to know since my frantic, manic shopping sprees in the 100 Yen shops.

I asked about the lead scare on CHINA produced plastics and he assured me that the bento boxes produced in China under the licensee of their Japanese brand was safe and lead free.

See the blue and pink Clikety Click boxes, I bought two of each because they come in single bentos. You can buy many and stack multiple bentos.

The rectangle pink ones in the back attracted me because they had a movable divider. This allows a lot of flexibility. The white one in the back is quite standard, just wanted to add another color to my collection.

I loved the chopsticks they had on display. I pick up some for hubs and I. The 'fun' chopsticks in their cases are for the girls bentos.

The three cylindrical containers are for tea leaves. They only had three colors, I got them all. Coincidently, I am brewing three different types of tea (by rotation) daily.

The plastic box is to contain some of the Onigiri molds as they are bulky and difficult to contain.

The rest of the non-bento stuff, you don't want to see - too many of them! Hehehehe!!!

Bento #31

My Bento experience tells me one thing for sure. If you want your food to stand out in your bento, you need to use a box which is black inside.

Every time I pack bread, the bento looks too 'yellow'. #1 is adverse to 'red' food e.g. tomatoes, peppers in all three colors, including red, pumpkins, etc, etc.

Besides it's nutritional value and recommended portions, bento's are supposed to look yummy - a feast to the eyes. With limited choices of food and fussy eaters in tow, one has to work doubly hard at a bento.
This morning, I had to think fun as well as practical. I sandwiched the last batch of Focaccia bread (the practical food) with mushroom, ham and cheese on one side and a portion of banana topped with Cinnamon sugar.

In the other side of the bento box are some more sandwich in white bread cut into flowers (this is the fun food). The silver foil cake cup is filled with cucumbers, fishcake, crab sticks and corn. In the Hello Kitty tub is Thousand Island dressing. In the silicon cups are three slices of tamagoyaki. I threw in a Keroppi candy to cheer up the bento.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My first Blogger Award!!


Sue from Cooking Momster Corner awarded me my first Blogger award!! I am honored and humbled at the same time. Thank you very, very much.

The Cooking Momster Corner blog was the blog that triggered the birth of Bento Pet. I had just started surfing the net and discovered blogging. I visited many Bento sites all over the world and Sue's site was the only local site which had some indication of a Bento collection (which she bought from the US). It was enough to get my adrenaline running wild and Bento Pet sprung into action.

Thank you, Sue, from the bottom of my heart. *gives a bow*

If I may, I would like to share this with fellow bloggers whom I've recently met and whose sites I enjoy visiting.

Terri of A Daily Obsession - Truly an awesome site. Full of interesting recipes and intelligent rantings from a lady who takes pride in her cooking, presentation and her family.

Rita Ho of I'm making notes - A blogger friend whom I have an affinity with. Loved her Merdeka post and t-shirt. Jim Reeves, Cliff Richard and Bing Crosby fan!!! Yeah!!

Tia*Ungil (Tee Ya Ooh Ng Eel) of Bek el Tekoi ma Rokui el Tekoi - A Palaun woman who currently lives in Hawaii and has got into the Bento obsession. This award is to encourage and compel you to keep going with your Bento-ing.

There are so many creative and fantastic sites out there who deserve this award. All of you deserve it and you have received some awesome and deserving ones too.

These 3 people are close to my heart and has lent meaning to my blogging and so to you - Terri, Rita and Tia*Ungil, I Bento Pet humbly award you with this:


Thank you for having made a difference to my blogging days!!

May you have more creative juices to share!! God bless!

Bento #30

This is a new Bento box. They are two individual boxes which you can stack one on top of the other. Before this, I bought the orange one because I didn't like the pink. Recently I saw the blue one and decided to pick it up because of the size. It's larger that the two tier ones that I have. Along with this one, I bought several others...mmmmm...need to curb this Bento collecting habit even if it's cheap! These, I got at the 100 Yen shop. My husband says it's a rip off because they are charging us RM4.90 for 100Yen which by current exchange rate should be only over RM3.??

Oh well, what to do? There aren't any other outlets selling them, closest being in Singapore where there are Daiso outlets. *grin* just make the best of the current status!! Hehehe!!

This new box is for #2 and she likes her Chirashi-sushi all mixed up. She doesn't want to have to deal with 'complicated' food. Very messy to have to do the mixing in school! Okay, mum has taken note so your Chirashi-sushi has been mixed up and added into your box.

There is a tuna mayo sandwich with focaccia bread and a cup of freshly steamed corn removed from the cob, and a cute 'rabbit' (sorry I don't know what it's called) from the moon cake family. One of our friends gave us a whole box of these 'animals' in the shape of porcupines, pigs and rabbits.

The box on the right is for #1. She likes to lap up the visual pleasure of her food and then savor it. So, the ingredients of this Chirashi-sushi is just laid out in six sections on top of sushi rice already mixed with Kewpie Mayo.

Lately, I've been using the silicon cups which can be washed and re-used. I wish I could get other sizes and shapes but looks like these will have to do for the time being. I'm happy that I don't have to throw them away anyway!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Survivors guide for packing Bento box

There have been some common questions being asked about how to pack bento and the safety and contamination of food packing. I am no expert and I too have my concerns because it directly affects my children’s wellbeing for whom I pack Bento boxes for, daily. I can, however share some tips with you on how I work my Bentos every morning.

Several pointers to remember:

  • Bento requires cooking in small quantities.
  • Pots and pans should be smaller in size.
  • Work with tongs and chopsticks to pick and transfer food.
  • Have to be fast and efficient, so all ingredients and utensils should be available and easily accessible. (You should not be climbing chairs to get a pot out or running to the store to get the Salad spinner etc.)
  • Each morning's menu must be planned on a weekly basis or at least the day before to ensure that all ingredients or food stuff are available.

My routine:
  • Wash my hands,
  • I pick up two chopping boards and two knives, rinse with hot water from the flask (habit I picked up from my mother).
  • Pick up some forks and spoons, tongs, chopsticks and small bowls and whatever I need to use – rinse them with hot water.

Working with Raw Vegetables or fruits:
  • Wash the vegetables or fruits well, scrub and skin where necessary.
  • Pluck or cut them and dunk into a container of salt water (another habit I picked up from mum).
  • Prepare dressing or get other ingredients out from fridge e.g. cheese, mayo
  • Get other ingredients: Olive oil, pepper and salt, Balsamic vinegar, anchovies, etc. etc. All these should be readily available.
  • Spin-dry the vegetables or fruits with a Salad spinner and viola, all is ready for dressing.

Working with Cooked Vegetables:
  • Prepare all the necessary vegetables and soak in a container of salted water.
  • Spin-dry the vegetables to cook last. (i.e. get ready all the other food for the bento before cooking the vegetables).
  • If blanching the veggies, boil water in a small container, add little salt and preferably no oil unless cooking with Spinach or veggies that require oil to improve it's texture. Otherwise, less or none is best.
  • After cooking, immediately transfer into a sieve or strainer to rid the liquids. Spread out the veggies and stand under a fan on high speed to cool down the veggies to be ready for packing.

Working with leftovers:
  • I like to freeze my leftover food in individual portions in flat, broad containers so that it's easy to defrost.
  • Take leftovers from the freezer the night before use and leave in the fridge for defrosting.
  • I don't normally use the microwave for defrosting but that's up to the individual.
  • Toss the defrosted leftovers into a small pot and cook till it comes to a boil.
  • Quickly transfer into a flat metal plate and cool under high speed fan. (remember to use place mat for the hot plate).

Working with fresh food cooking:

Sometimes, I fry pre-marinated chicken in the mornings. Then I have to de-bone the chicken with a fork and knife and cool it down ready for packing. This is a little challenging because I have about 30 minutes to get the bento boxes ready.

I never prepare the bento boxes the night before to go in the morning.

Occasionally, I deep fry spring rolls which has been prepared during the weekend and frozen. I normally have two pots of oil for these purposes. One pot of oil for the stronger flavored foods and another for the milder flavored foods.

For Spaghetti white sauces, I normally prepare it the night before. Frozen white sauce is yuckky so I never freeze it. If I prepare it the morning itself, I'll do less cooking of other foods for the Bento and so it could just be fruits, biscuits, pasta and a frozen bottle of juice for the Bento box.

Food that I freeze:
  • All Japanese noodles e.g. Cha Soba, Buckwheat Soba, Udon (mind you, not the fresh type), Dipping sauces for noodles and tempura.
  • Roast duck meat (cut and ready for use).
  • Grated Parmesan and Cheddar cheese
  • Bacon and sausages.
  • Bolognaise sauce, (I pre-boil spaghetti pasta the night before and keep in the fridge).
  • All types of fish ball, fish cakes (Kamaboko) - Japanese or local.
  • Pre-simmered, deep-fried tofu pockets for Inari Sushi, Kampyo, simmered mushrooms and other ingredients for sushi so that it's always at hand and available. (I will cook the tamagoyaki one day ahead because it's quite simple to do and doesn't require long hours of simmering).

Take note:
  • Use one cutting board and knife for cutting the dry stuff e.g. bread, cheese, cooked dry foods, fruits, veggies like cucumbers or carrots.
  • Use the other one for 'wet or oily' foods e.g fried chicken, sausages, spring rolls.
  • Try not to save time or washing by using one cutting board and knife.
  • Wash hands again if it gets oily or sticky from all the cutting, alternatively handle with a fork to 'hold down" the food for cutting.

Packing the Bento Boxes:

When all the food is cooled and ready for packing, I visually decide which bento box to use that morning and I will take out the Bento boxes. Rinse with hot water and wipe dry.

I have a box filled and ready with all the bento accessories like food dividers, small containers, shoyu bottles etc, etc.

Then I will decide which food item will go on which level and which part of the bento box using which divider or packaging. If there are spaces in between, I stuff them with single packed marshmallows, raisins, occasionally with candies or chocolates and perhaps biscuits.

From my children's past experience, as long as the food does not remain in a 'hot' condition and is eaten within four hours, there has not been any experience of the food going bad. In fact we've not had that scare before. Thank God! Sometimes I pack two bentos for Daughter #1 because she stays back for extra curricular activities and it's like six hours and the food is still okay. Of course on those days the second bento would not contain food like tuna mayo or potato salads. I'd go for noodles or fried rice, dried foods like sandwiches and biscuits etc.

If there are worries about the food turning bad, you could freeze a bottle of juice or water just to keep the bento in a cool condition. There are chemical ice packs and anti-bacterial sheets that you can place on the food to avoid contamination and food turning bad.

I cook a lot with garlic and onions and that in itself 'kills' bacteria. I've read sites that encourage you to swipe the bento box with a piece of garlic or ginger but I've not tried that. I try to maintain some hygenic habits and cooking methods, pray that with all the love that I've put into my cooking, my kids will enjoy the fruits of my effort and be safe.

Edited and updated: 19 July 2008

Bento #29

The Bento box on top is filled with Focaccia bread with a tub of cold pressed extra virgin Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar.

The right Bento box contains half a citrus fruit and some skewered kyuri, crabstick and tamagoyaki.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bento #28

Yesterday was a long day and I had very little time to do any planning.

I decided past midnight last night that I would pack a quick and simple bento box today.

#2 is going to the library today but still requested for her bento box.

Top box: Tuna dip (tuna, chopped onions, mayo, mustard, gerkins), a box of raisins, garlic bread crisps.

Bottom box: A 'friendly' egg with a bottle of shoyu. Baked a full proof banana cake yesterday so added to the box. Popped some pop corn this morning for a change.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bento #27

Monday morning is the best! I have the weekend to think, plan and stock up on groceries. My weekends are very busy because on Sunday's we're at church for more than half the day. Nevertheless, some compromise from family members help make my chores a lot easier.
This morning's bento box consists of Chinese styled noodles in garlic oil, shoyu, thick black sauce and pepper, topped with fishballs. In the other end are banana's with cinnamon sugar.

I was browsing through this site Salad Talk and found this recipe (10/08: Warm Chicken Salad with Mango on Baby Arugula). I improvised a little with the fruits and salad but kept to the dressing recipe (without the nuts because #1 doesn't like nuts). It turned out very delicious. The dressing combination of Olive oil, Balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese was excellent! I made a whole big bowl this morning and after filling their bento boxes, we shared the balance for breakfast. Mmmm....the taste is still lingering on the tongue, so nice!

I still have bananas and I'm going to try out a banana cake recipe this morning. Will post an update if successful.

By the way, the Ichigo Daifuku, after one night in the fridge turned out very nice. #2 said that the texture was 'excellent' - her own words!! Then she added, 'No so difficult to make right? Can we make another batch and color them pink?" Sigh...the things we do for our kids...coming right up - Ichigo Daifuku!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I can't afford your 'fix'!

Daughter #2 really loves Daifuku mochi. She wants the ones from Isetan because it's nicer than the ones they make at Jaya Jusco! Eh! Hello! I have to take the train down to KLCC to pick them up and they are RM12.90 for a pack of three! Two or three times seem harmless when I'm there to stock up my groceries but this 'fix' that she needs is getting out of hand!

I spoke to my friend Alice and she said that she had a recipe for "Ichigo Daifuku" (strawberry mochi). Since I had some left over Anko (red bean paste) from my Dorayaki pancakes, I decided to try her recipe.

The first try cooking the "Shiratama-Ko" (Japanese rice flour) was a disaster. It was too soft and mushy. It was very sticky and got stuck everywhere!! Ewwwww......I decided to try again instead of wasting the strawberries (already wrapped in Anko). Look at the 'cacated' picture (above) from the first attempt! #2 said that it was 'sinking' and wrinkly plus she didn't like the 'Kinako' (bean powder) which I coated it with. Such a tall order from a 15 year old! Huh!

I tried cooking the "Shiratama-Ko" again and this time with less water and slightly longer. It came out very well. Firmer and less sticky. I coated it with "Katakuriko" this time. I was quite satisfied with the result but had to have the opinion of #2. "So how? I asked". "Not bad for a first attempt, says she, but need to improve on the texture". Aghhhh....What texture? "It needs to be firmer". Okay, okay, try again tomorrow!! Hmm...(I thought to myself) Let you eat until you 'pengsan'!

On the left is the "Ichigo" wrapped in "Anko" ready to be wrapped in mochi. The taste is really very nice, the slight sourness from the strawberry is burried in the sweet Anko and mochi - the blend is just perfect.

An afterthought: Perhaps, after one night in the fridge, the Ichigo Daifuku texture would be firmer? We'll see....tomorrow....

Friday, September 14, 2007

Introduction of basic Japanese Ingredients - Part I

Sorry no bento today. The girls stayed back to study for exams. Actually #2 is having a bad sinus attack and #1 is sprouting pimples all over, so yeah, an excuse to "ponteng"!

After Judy asked about mirin in my Dorayaki post, I decided to do an introduction of some basic Japanese ingredients for the benefit of those who are interested in Japanese food but may not have had any experience or exposure to the raw ingredients.

On top is "Katsaobushi" a.k.a bonito flakes. This is used to make "dashi", a Japanese soup stock similar to what the Chinese use "ikan billis" to make soup stock, only that "dashi" doesn't have the very strong fishy smell that the "ikan billis" has.

"Dashi" is the base stock for Miso soup. Without dashi, there is no authentic miso soup. Dashi is also used for "Cawan Mushi", the egg custard. The quality of Katsaobushi in the dashi and the amount of dashi used for its recipe is critical to the flavour and texture of a good "Cawan Mushi".

Dashi is also used to make "Tamagoyaki". The rolled egg omelet. In fact, dashi is used for many purposes and in many soup based recipes like Yosenabe (a one pot dish, like our Malaysian steamboat), broth for Udon, dipping sauces for Tempura, the list is endless.

In my kitchen, I make dashi three times a week. It is very easy to make dashi and each time I make a large pot full to fill three containers which I keep in the fridge for convenience purpose.

On the right, is a bottle of cooking "Sake". It is basically brewed rice "wine" and has a 1.9-2.1% alcohol content. It's flavour is slightly salted.

Sake is normally used in recipes like "teriyaki", soups, marinades, simmered dishes and the whole works.
I normally marinate all the meats (chicken, pork, prawns) that I use for cooking in Sake.

On the left is "Mirin". It's a type of sweet cooking sauce made from fermented glutinous rice which has a higher alcohol content of than "Sake".

There are many qualities of "Mirin". Look for "Hon Mirin" which can be bought at any good Japanese supermarket.

Finally the most important of all, the Japanese Shoyu. There are two types used in Japanese cooking. One the dark shoyu and the other the light shoyu.

This should be most familiar to Malaysians as we use this in our cooking too. My mum swears by the local brewers of shoyu but I only use Kikkoman and Top Value from Jusco for my Japanese cooking. The Kikkoman shoyu is the dark shoyu and the Top Value one with the orange cap is the light shoyu. I haven't found the light shoyu in the Kikkoman range yet.

Japanese shoyu is used in most of the recipes for flavouring.

I hope this has enlightened some of you on the type of ingredients used for Japanese cooking. There are lots and lots of ingredients used in Japanese cooking and I will continue to post on the raw ingredients and it's uses if there is interest generated.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dora Yaki recipe

Terri, this is for you! Tako-Yaki (yum-yum) recipe is up next. Need to take some photos first!

Dora Yaki

Red bean paste (Anko):
  • 300 g Japanese red beans (azuki) – soak for 5 hours at least
  • 220 g castor sugar (this amount makes the paste quite bland for some people, not like a sweet dessert)
  • ¼ tsp salt

For Anko:
  1. Place the red beans in a thick bottom and broad base pot and fill it up three quarters way with water. Boil for 5 minutes and drain.
  2. Fill the pot three quarters way with water again, pour in the red beans and bring to boil. Simmer on small fire for two hours until the red beans are soft.
  3. Remove any scum or foam along the way.
  4. Once the red beans are soft, off the fire and drain well if there are still liquids.
  5. Return the softened red beans to the pot, add sugar and stir constantly. (It might suddenly turn liquid-y when you add the sugar) Just continue to stir until it dries up again. Try to mesh up the soft red beans and add the salt.
  6. Allow it to cool and transfer into small containers for use with different recipes. Keep in the fridge.
For Pancakes:
I read on the internet that legend has it that the first Dora Yaki was made when a samurai named Benkei forgot his gong (‘dora’ in Japanese) upon leaving a farmer’s home where he was hiding and the farmer used the gong to fry the pancakes, thus the name Dora Yaki.

Dora Yaki pancakes:
  • 100 g plain flour (sifted)
  • 90 g castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp Maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 tbsp water
  1. Beat eggs and sugar in Kenwood using ‘K’ beater (I only own a Kenwood but you can use any cake beater). Beat on high till the eggs become pale and thick. Add the Maple syrup, mirin and water and beat for a short while.
  2. Fold in the flour and set aside. Cover it with cling film and stand in a warm corner for 15 minutes for it to ‘rise’ (becomes foamy).
  3. Pour mixture into a jug without ‘disturbing’ it too much. (keep the mixture foamy).
  4. Pour required amount onto a heated non-stick and slightly oiled pan and cook like ordinary pancakes. (until bubbles appear and flip)
  5. Sandwich two pieces of pancakes with the cooked Anko (red bean paste) and you get your Dora Yaki. Enjoy!
    Daughter #2 couldn't resist THIS!

Bento #26

I've been wanting to make Dora Yaki again after all the pancakes I've been making for my girls. Usually, red bean paste is sandwiched between two Dora Yaki pancakes but these days you can see them being sold with peanut butter or jam. I like mine the traditional style - with red bean paste.

I planned this morning's menu very well because I only have half an hour to finish the Bento and the Dora Yaki takes about 15 minutes to 'rise'.

I got most of the ingredients ready last night for the bento and all I had to do is to quickly fry the rice with the pre-cut fillets of roasted duck meat and eggs. That I did in one kuali while boiling a small pot of water over another stove to blanch some of the vegetables. At the other end of my kitchen, I had my old faithful Kenwood humming away beating the batter for the Dora Yaki.

After some 'magical moves', I managed to get everything done on time. Ahhhh.....all packed and gone, I had to continue frying the balance Dora Yaki - this time in big pieces so that the batter will finish faster! The tiny ones were just for the Bento.

As usual, I'd sneak vegetables into their bento (like it or not) and here you can see I've skewered kyuri (partially skinned and rolled in salt and then washed to give it it's crunchiness), fish cake, baby corn and baby carrots.

I punched three stars and scattered on top of the very 'brown looking' fried roasted duck rice. Placed two pieces of mini Dora Yaki with red bean paste, three-quarters of an orange and some Indonesian layer cake a neighbor give us.

Quite happy with today's bento even though I was literally running helter-skelter trying to get it ready. *smile* *smile* *smile*


Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Learn a WORD a day!

How's your spelling?

Your Spelling is Perfect
You got 10/10 correct.

Your spelling is excellent. You also have a great memory and eye for detail.
You Are Cilantro
The bad news is that there are some people who can't stand you.
The good news is that most people love you more than anything else in the world.
You are distinct, unusual, fresh, and very controversial. And you wouldn't have it any other way.