Bento a la Carnivore


The problem with my kitchen is that, in the 80s, the owners of the house bought top of the line, fashionable, electric, black and stainless steel appliances to compliment their quality but dark, real wood, kitchen cabinets.  Over 30 years later, the appliances are old, and I’ve never liked electric, black or stainless steel appliances.


In addition, the butcher block island top looks like a real old and aggressively used, third world country, butcher’s block.  Trying to get the top replaced, plus fitting the new white, gas stove into the old space for the electric oven, plus replacing the leaking dishwasher has been a nightmare.  Apparently, removal and installation are two separate areas of expertise and we had to schedule a remover before we could schedule installations.  I almost lost the will to live.


The good news is that after a brief tryst with vegetarianism, Jade has rejoined the fold. While not discouraging her foray into non-meatitude, we continued to cook and eat all manner of beasts that smelled and looked delicious, causing understandable salivation and dissatisfaction with her healthy but meat-less meals.   A little propaganda, and voila!

Killer Vegetarians

Where is Jamie Oliver when you need him!?  Jade’s high school cafeteria could use a visit. I have started to prepare bento boxes for her lunch at her request and because I like preparing bento boxes 🙂


Today’s lunch was packed with furikake sprinkled inarizushi with tuna, Major Grey chutney glazed lamb meatballs, steamed and buttered acorn squash with chunks of orangesicle fudge for dessert (bottom layer, top photo), steamed ginger chicken, cherry tomatoes with vinaigrette, star and heart shaped boiled egg halves (top layer, photo just above).


With our household effects somewhere between Stuttgart and Honesdale, I bought a few bento supplies on  I found a non-traditional, stainless steal, tight sealing , neon green box that I thought Jade would like.  I have to find a matching fork, knife and spoon case for her.


Inarizushi are sweet, seasoned and fried bean curd pockets that you can buy prepared in a can.  You just drain them, then pry open the pockets for stuffing.  Easy.


Make some sushi rice, seasoning it with mirin, rice vinegar and sugar.  Use Hon-mirin if you can find it instead of Aji-mirin.  Also, be sure to read the outside of the rice vinegar bottle because I found some rice vinegar that was made with wheat.  Holy Mother of God! What happened to the honesty?


When I was making the tuna for stuffing into the pockets with rice, I was a little concerned about the tuna, but Bumblebee Solid White Albacore in water is a nice tuna, although I do still miss my Petit Navire from France 🙂


Jade loves these!  We all do, even me.  This doesn’t count as rice 🙂


The steamed chicken thighs are simple to make.  Bone or buy boned 5-6 chicken thighs, skin on, place inside a bowl and then inside of a steamer basket, then sprinkle with slivers of garlic and ginger and slices of scallion.


Pour over some soy sauce and mirin, then steam.  My steamer baskets are not here yet, so I used a metal colander.  A little tricky but it worked.


Skin removed and thinly sliced, this chicken reminds me of something similar I had in The People’s Republic, back in the day.  Good over Thai rice noodles.


Really happy to have access to acorn squash again.  I could never find these in France. Simply baked or steamed, these are delicious.  Stuffed is good too 🙂


The lamb meatballs (lead photo) were made in a “can’t be bothered” fashion.  Good though.  The recipe included here is what I can remember.

Major Grey Chutney Glazed Lamb Meatballs

1 lb ground lamb

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup Major Grey’s Mango Chutney with Ginger

1-2 tbsp water

Mix together the lamb, salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, bread crumbs and egg.  Form into normal size meatballs, then bake in a 350 F oven for 20-25 minutes.

Melt the chutney over a low flame with the water, then pour over the cooked meatballs, gently stirring to glaze.

Tuna and Sushi Rice Stuffed Inarizushi

1 large can tuna, drained

2-3 tbsp chopped onion

2-3 heaping tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp mustard

Salt and pepper

1 can inarizushi, drained and pockets pried open

3 cups hot sushi rice

Assorted furikake sprinkles

Mix the tuna, onion, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper together and set aside.  Stuff the pockets with a layer of rice, a layer of tuna and then a final layer of rice.  Sprinkle with furikake.

Steamed Ginger Chicken

5-6 chicken thighs boned, skin on

1 inch fresh ginger, slivered

1 large scallion, sliced

2 large cloves garlic, slivered

1/4 cup mirin

1/4 cup tamari soy sauce

Put the chicken thighs in a heat proof shallow bowl.  Top with the ginger, garlic and spring onion slices.  Mix the mirin and soy sauce together and pour over chicken.  Put the bowl inside a steamer basket and steam for 15 minutes, covered.  Baste with the soy sauce mixture and steam for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove the skin and thinly slice. Serve over rice or noodles with the sauce.














About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
This entry was posted in Asian, bento, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Main dishes, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Bento a la Carnivore

  1. Lauren B says:

    That bento looks so good! I didn’t know you could buy the soybean pockets ready made, I need to look for those. I have also found products with wheat in them that shouldn’t have it…gah.

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Wow – that oven is a period piece! I wondered if you could sand down the work top and make it “new,” though you might have replaced it already.
    I love that green bento box and I’m sure you’d do very well in a Japanese moms’ bento competition:
    It’s good to hear that Jade has returned to the fold. I’m still waiting to hear if my step daughter is eating meat in Mongolia, where they cook the meat and vegetables together as a matter of course…

  3. hannahysabel says:

    Looks delicious. I need to stop by the market and look for inarizushi. I love the stuff but never knew what it was called! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Conor Bofin says:

    Brilliant bentoing. Good to see Jade back on the path of flavourfulness.

  5. That all looks really good. I’ll have to try that steamed chicken. It sounds great and easy to make, and usually when I make chicken I overcook it and it’s dry. I love inari. I like putting pickled plums or some Japanese pickled vegetables in it.

  6. I think I, too, would be swayed from vegetarianism living in your house for any length of time! You’re always cooking something good. Love the Tuna and Sushi Rice Stuffed Inarizushi especially.

  7. Trish says:

    that lunch looks so delicious!! I have a steamer basket – havent used it yet. I will try it out with this dish

  8. My kids would get a kick out of this lunch. I’ve seen the bento box competitions and it’s insane!

  9. reggiorif says:

    I would have payed to be able to have such lunches when I was in high school!

  10. Sorry that I have been away for so long, even my own blog went sadly neglected, so I know it seems like short notice, but I’m coming over for dinner…or lunch! Seriously, these all look good. (WHEAT ‘rice’ vinegar? We just have to keep reading all the labels, I guess.)

  11. Karen says:

    Even kid in Jade’s school is going to want you to fix their lunch. 🙂

  12. Mary Frances says:

    Bento boxes make lunchtime feel so special. Lucky Jade!

  13. Michelle says:

    Glad to see you’re soldiering on. 🙂

  14. Julia says:


  15. That’s hot. I love it all… except maybe your black stainless appliances (That pic reminds me of my aunties kitchen in the eighties!). I am particularly impressed with your use of bean curd pockets. I damn well love those things!! 🙂

  16. Everything looks amazing and so glad Jade is back in the fold! We’ve just bought a house with a white formica kitchen and no oven or hob 🙁 Am managing with a 2 ring electric camping hob and an electric slow cooker for the moment – hence no posts as am not feeling very creative or inspired!

  17. Oh my, what a bento box!! I would love to take one of those for my lunch! And whilst I think the box is very cute, I’m talking about the fillings :)!!

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