All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Takoyaki / fried octopus dumplings (calamari version)

Served with an aromatic, sweet and salty sauce that blends with the savory and still creamy batter inside, these little dumplings are everyone's favorite. Takoyaki used to be something from neighborhood mom & pop shops, which often had small eat-in areas but largely sold takoyaki as a takeout item. At my local takoyaki shop, a couple of coins were enough to buy a small tray with several takoyaki, which was affordable with my pocket money -- basically change I collected from buying stationery or books -- as a child. Buying a large tray with 12 takoyaki required some help from parents or relatives, and I always dreamed about getting a large tray with 12 takoyaki and eating them all myself. When this dream came true I was so happy, but also uncomfortably full and feeling guilty about not sharing them with my sister.

The recipe below features calamari as a more widely available substitute for octopus.

Whole recipe (about 24 takoyaki balls):
902 calories; 44.8g protein; 19.0g fat; 117.2g carbohydrate; 862mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 734mg cholesterol; 4.6g fiber

1/2 of recipe above (about 12 takoyaki balls):
451 calories; 22.4g protein; 9.5g fat; 58.6g carbohydrate; 431mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 367mg cholesterol; 2.3g fiber


Lunch, June 25, 2015

A bento can be the solution to making a lunch date with a busy friend. Forget about driving around to find a parking spot, hoping to get a table or waiting for food to arrive to fill your hungry stomach!


Somen no tonyu tsuketsuyu / soymilk dipping sauce for thin wheat noodles

This mild and rich soymilk-based dipping sauce is quite filling. Pair it with somen or hiyamugi noodles or thin udon noodles accompanied by goodies for a more substantial meal. Among condiments, ginger goes especially well with this dipping sauce, so grate more than usual.

184 calories (1/2 of recipe); 9.3g protein; 12.8g fat; 9.8g carbohydrate; 191mg sodium (with shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 0mg cholesterol; 2.2g fiber 

When served with 100g (dry) somen noodles with 1/2-egg kinshitamago (julienned egg crepe), a small bunch of blanched mizuna, fresh kaiware daikon radish sprouts, 3 grilled spot shrimp and condiments (small knob ginger, 2 purple shiso leaves, 1/2 green onion) per serving:
641 calories; 30.8g protein; 18.6g fat; 83.8g carbohydrate; 442mg sodium; 175mg cholesterol; 5.6g fiber 


Fuki to ebi no itamemono / stir-fried Japanese butterbur and shrimp

A light fuki dish with shrimp that tastes gently salty and sweet. A recent hit among dishes I made for bento.

64 calories (1/2 of recipe); 7.8g protein; 2.1g fat; 1.9g carbohydrate; 140mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 179mg with regular soy sauce); 62mg cholesterol; 0.8g fiber


Fuki no ha to jako no mazegohan / steamed rice with Japanese butterbur leaves and dried young sardines

A distinctive rice dish on the bitter end of the spectrum for adults (and kids who have acquired the taste). The bitterness in this rice dish offers another dimension to the meal while masking the lower sodium content that you might otherwise notice.

288 calories (1/2 of recipe with 150g steamed rice); 5.0g protein; 2.6g fat; 7.7g carbohydrate; 84mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 163mg with regular soy sauce); 11mg cholesterol; 0.6g fiber


Tomato no amazu oroshi-ae / tomato with grated daikon radish and sweetened vinegar

Refreshing and pleasant for both eye and palette. Select a ripe tomato for the best results. Great when paired with a grilled or fried dish.

23 calories (1/2 of recipe); 0.5g protein; 0g fat; 5.2g carbohydrate; 33mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 1.0g fiber 


Nori to nanohana no osuimono / clear soup with nori seaweed and field mustard flowers

A very quick, light soup to accompany other dishes. Nanohana field mustard flowers make a pretty contrast to the black purple backdrop of nori seaweed, which also deepens the aroma of the soup.

12 calories (1/2 of recipe); 1.7g protein; 0.3g fat; 1.5g carbohydrate; 212mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 0.7g fiber