Thursday, May 13, 2010

Easy Japanese Lunch

A lot of my friends think cooking Japanese food is difficult or complicated. It can be, but a lot are easy to make and I would like to show you some of the simple foods I cook and hopefully get others interested in cooking them too.

I had to pack lunch for us this morning but I did not have a lot of time to prepare something fancy lunch. I decided to make Tori Soboro Bento (pictured above) which I often cook when I don't have a lot of time and not many ingredients available.

If you know how to cook rice, scramble eggs, and boil water, you can make this in 30 min! Here is the recipe:

Tori Soboro (For 2 adults and 1 child)
  • rice
  • 1-2 tbs of vegetable oil
  • ground chicken (I used 1 chicken breast and 1 chicken thight ground in a food processor)
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs mirin
  • 2-3 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  1. Heat the pan with 1-2 tsp of vegetable oil and when it is ready add ground chicken and cook for a couple of minutes.

  2. Add sugar and mirin to the chicken. Continue cooking.

  3. When chicken is cooked add soy sauce and cook until all the liquid evaporates. Set the chicken aside.
  4. Make scrambled eggs with 2 eggs, 1/2 tsp sugar, and a pinch of salt and set aside.

  5. Boil salted water and cook frozen peas.

  6. When you are finished cooking the chicken, eggs, and peas, you just need to arrange them on the warm rice.
"Itadakimasu" (Bon Appetit in Japanese)
When you eat this dish, please mix everything and eat.
Feel free to play with the recipe and experiment with some of the ingredients, such as the salt and sugar, to fit your tastes. That is one of the great things about cooking. It is much more forgiving than baking.
My parents are from Ehime, the southern part of Japan and the foods from south are sweeter compared to that of north. Even though I was born in the southern part of Japan, I lived most of my life in central Japan and lived the past 10 years in the US. For that reason I am sure my Japanese cooking is different from my mother's.
Since I did not have a chance to go to the grocery store yesterday (I don't like to go grocery shopping with my 2 years old), I really did not have anything else to put in our lunch box except some apples. I cut them and decided to make little rabbit shapes.

My mother used to cut apples like this and put them in my sister's and my lunch boxes. I use lemon juice to prevent oxidation but I remember my mom used to soak them in salted water. When you live on an island in the pacific, salt is a much more common solution to food problems than sweet or sour.

Kids are easily impressed. Just adding a small touch of love to these apples by making them look like rabbits will light up their faces and make them smile. And isn't that why we do it?

If you have a chance to try the recipe, let me know how it goes and please take pictures. I would love to hear about your experience and see your cooking. If you have any questions about this recipe or Japanese food feel free to contact me. Enjoy!


  1. One of the things that impresses me most about your dishes is always the presentation, Ai! Everything is always so lovely!

    And thank you for teaching me something new! I had never heard of mirin before reading this post.

  2. Hi Martina,

    Thank you for your comment! You are the first person to comment and I am so excited! :D

    Japanese cooking use a lot of Mirin so if you are interested in Japanese food, it is good to have one in your pantry. ;)

    Again, thank you for your support and very nice comment. :)

  3. The best thing about this recipe is that I had all the stuff at home already! I came home from work, started the rice cooker, and made dinner in 20 mins. I think it's cool that something so simple can still taste so "exotic" to me. :) Not sure I got all the proportions right since the amount of peas was not listed. It tasted great though! Donovan and I enjoyed it for dinner and I've got the leftovers for my lunch today.

  4. Mandy,

    I am so glad that you tried the recipe. :D When I cook Japanese food, I don't measure the ingredients so I need to get used to doing that to post some of my favorite Japanese food here. I hope you took some pictures of your cooking. I love to see them. :D Thank you for trying!

  5. It looks so good. I usually use ground beef and ginger for soboro. if you do not mind could you tell me which camera you are using. Are you using flash, too? Not compact camera, right?

  6. Hi Kayo!

    Thank you for your comment! :D I never tried with ground beef so I should try. I don't like using flash. I try to use natural light for my photos as much as I can. I cook nice meal at night so I want to learn how to take a good photos of food at night without natuaral light. I love my Nikon D 40 SLR degital camera for now anyway. I am still learning how to take good photos and so it is good one for me at this point.

  7. This was absolutely yummy! Whipped it up for the hubby and me. Will probably do it again this week... Keep the recipes coming..... Dinner was super yummy last night so I'm hoping for a post on that too....

  8. Hi Yvonne,

    Thank you for your comment! I really appreciate it! :D I posted 2 new recipes today and they are really easy so hope to help make your busy life less stressful. I know how hard it is to think about dinner menu everyday.

    I will make sure that I will post what I made last night. They are easy too. Thank you for coming to my house and kept me company. I always enjoy your company!

  9. I'm backkkkkkkkkkk! Went to the IGA and they only had ground turkey. Decided to proceed anyways, it worked great. We've now had this 2X in 1 week:)

  10. Hi Yvonne.

    You are my biggest fan! Thank you! Thank you for tryting my recipe and commenting about it. I reall appreciate it. Comments like this motivates me to keep posting recipes.