Gluten-free Bento: Vegetarian Yakisoba-Inspired Fried Rice Recipe

November 29th, 2012 yum Posted in Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger, Bento, Japan, Japanese, Rice 4 Comments »

Long time no see, dear readers!
As you might have guessed, I’ve been a little occupied since I got back from Japan. I’m writing my dissertation and the dear Kid Yum is in a busy daycare schedule. Then of course there is the DH… and our house… and kitty… Blog writing has become a luxury that I haven’t been able to afford.

I have been cooking, though, and I have been making many, many bento lunches for Kid Yum these days, and being me, I can’t resist photographing them.

So.. when I can, I’d like to share the week’s bentos with you. And if, like today, I come up with a fun recipe, I’ll share that too.

I have a new passion these days as well that I’d like to share. Along with making (mostly) vegetarian bentos, I’ve been trying to teach Kid Yum some Japanese. She attended a Japanese pre-school for six months while we were in Mutsu City, and she picked up some phrases and vocabulary, as well as a love for Japanese food and taiko (drums). When I was a kid in first grade, I desperately wanted to learn Japanese (or Chinese)… but I didn’t have anyone to teach me. So, given Kid Yum’s great start, I thought it would be nice to give her a chance to keep speaking Japanese.

Twice a week she goes to a neat Japanese language school we found. I know, it seems a little crazy for a 3 year old, but it is a really fun school with lots of songs and games. The atmosphere is also very welcoming, and the other moms are really friendly. It has a great sense of community, and I’m hoping that Kira will get a lot out of it long term. The other three days a week, she goes to her old, much-loved preschool. Her Japanese language school is designed to be a once or twice-a-week program, so she couldn’t go every day even if she wanted to. I’m happy to have her back at her old school anyway. She is really comfortable there and has even adjusted to nap-time with the help of the head teacher.

So, my new passion is playing in Japanese with Kid Yum. We play with hiragana (Japanese letter) blocks, try writing hiragana on a dry erase board, listen to japanese kids songs in the car, and get Japanese kids books from the library. We also listen to fun Japanese kids songs and watch youtube videos. I have found a new favorite blog as well, the clever Hiragana Mama blog with lots of ideas on how to share Japanese with kids.

Kid Yum seems to like it, and I’ve learned some new Japanese too. Kids Japanese and vocabulary is a little different than adult conversation, so it is a fun challenge twisting my tongue around the kids book lingo. It may be a funny fit, but I’d like to share the occasional Japanese song gem or fun book that we’re reading with you, along with the week’s bento and recipes, when time allows. I hope you enjoy getting this peek into Japanese culture and kids education!

I was lucky enough to have dear, kind-hearted fellow bloggers help me with Adopt a Gluten-free Blogger pretty much the whole time I was in Japan. I would like to take back the reins and so I will be posting a sign-up sheet on December 1st. Sign ups AND Posts will be due on December 15th and I’ll try to get a round up ASAP so you can enjoy the recipes for the holidays.

For the Japanese media of the week
Here’s a recent favorite song that we heard a lot in Mutsu at kid’s karaoke etc.

Here’s a rough translation that I found with a quick search.

And on to the Bentos! Hope you enjoy!

Weekly Bento:
Bento 1 Japanese Vegetarian Bento (w/ pescatarian variation)

Contents: Yakisoba-Inspired Fried Rice (back)
1/4 recipe of Maki’s tamagoyaki Recipe, raw yellow cauliflower from the farmer’s market [uneaten], and grapefruit pieces (front)

note: I actually made a 1/2 recipe of Maki’s tamagoyaki and Kid Yum ate 1/4 for breakfast and 1/4 for lunch. She just loves eggs.

Bento 2 Mexican American Vegetarian Bento

Contents: Avocado cubes with lemon juice (do NOT make these the night before, best morning of bento), Apple cubes, gluten-free sweet potato bread (back)
Refried beans (scroll down, used black beans instead of pinto), and quesadillas with homemade gluten-free corn tortillas (front)

*Note: dough mixed night before, saved in refrigerator covered with damp towel and then cooked in cast iron pan the morning of bento. If you can I’d recommend mixing the dough the morning you make the bento OR frying the tortilla the night before and then making the quesadilla freshly in the morning.

And though these pictures aren’t as pretty… just for kicks, I thought I’d show how I take my grown-up bento (or tiffin, in this case) and do a pre-school friendly version.

Here’s my tiffin:
Indian Quinoa Masala, Carrot Sticks, 1 boiled egg and some fried tofu cubes.
And Kid Yum’s bento, made the same night:
Sugar snap peas, grapes (back two containers)
toasted jam sandwich (not Gluten-free, but easily done with a gluten-free bread), sunflower seeds, carrot sticks, CAR-SHAPED boiled egg seasoned with soy sauce, 1 heirloom tomato, and a small serving of Indian quinoa masala

Hope you enjoyed the post! I’m glad to be back. It just didn’t feel right, not sharing our Thanksgiving with you… So here’s a last yum for you of our Thanksgiving menu. Maybe it will give you some ideas for other winter celebration dinners…

Our Thanksgiving Menu:
GF French Bread, GF Spinach Pie, Baked Acorn Squash Stuffed with Portobella Mushroom filling
Baked Sweet Potato Cranberry Mash with Streusel and Meringue Topping, Mashed Potatoes with vegetarian gravy, and homemade Cranberry Sauce

Dessert included: Homemade GF Apple Pie, GF Pumpkin Pie, GF Pecan Pie, and mini gingerbread cheesecakes

Gluten-free Vegetarian Yakisoba inspired Fried Rice Chahan Recipe
1 tsp. gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos for soy-free
1 tsp. mirin
1/2 tsp agave nectar, maple syrup or sugar
1 small knob of ginger (1/2 in) grated finely with micro-plane

Fried Rice:
2 cups cold cooked brown rice
1 tbsp. grapeseed oil
1/3 onion, diced (or 2 or 3 scallions, diced)
1/2 carrot, diced
1/2 cup slivered cabbage
*optional- for pescatarian version, add katsuobushi bonito flakes

1 large or jumbo egg, whisked
1 diced green onion/scallion
*sesame oil for pan

Special almost-yakisoba sauce* omit for soy-free:
1 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. GF Worcestershire sauce* contains soy

ao nori for topping
salt (if needed)
black sesame seeds

Combine sauce ingredients in small bowl and reserve.

Heat grapeseed oil in a wok or cast iron pan on high. Add your onion and let soften. Then add the diced carrot and then the slivered cabbage and sautee until carrot is al dente. Add sauce to veggies and stir fry for one minute, and then remove from pan.

If necessary, rinse pan with water, clean and dry. Whisk egg ingredients in small bowl, without the sesame oil.

Add a few drops of sesame oil to your newly clean, dry pan. Heat on medium and when warm, add your egg in a flat sheet like a crepe to the pan. After 10 or 20 seconds, add your brown rice, crumbled in your hand so that it falls in individual grains on the rice. Use spatula or large spoon to fold egg into rice. Cook for a minute or two and then fold in the reserved veggies. *Optional pescatarian version- fold in katsuobushi flakes.*

Turn off heat and combine ketchup and worcestershire sauce in a small, microwavable dish and microwave on 30 seconds or until thickened but not burned. Smoke is bad. Thick and crusty is bad, too, so avoid that. Not that I’ve had any experience with overcooking my almost-yakisoba sauce, mind you.

To serve (or to dress for a bento), put in your intended dish or bento box. sprinkle with ao nori, salt if needed (taste to determine) and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Trying to get Kid Yum to like brown rice is a challenge, but she did like this. She found it hard to eat with a fork and a little messy for bento, though. Fine for adult or coordinated kid’s bento. I made it the morning of the bento day, using brown rice made the night before.
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Gluten-free Bento in Japan 1: Roasted Broccoli Side Recipe

July 23rd, 2012 yum Posted in Bento, Easy, Japan, Vegetables, broccoli 8 Comments »

Toddler Yum needs a new nickname, I think. Even before my sweet girl turned three, she didn’t seem much like a toddler any more. She’s fully adjusted to going to a yochien, or preschool, here in Japan, and even adapted to riding on a bus all by herself. Actually, who am I kidding. She loves riding the bus to school so much she actually thanked me for LETTING her ride on it! lol. And I thought my little baby would be scared to ride all by herself. Anyway, the fact is that my little girl is growing up, and I think I just might have to start calling her “Kid Yum.” Sniff.

Kid Yum has been enjoying the delicious school lunches at her Japanese yochien. I have been enjoying the luxury of having someone else feed my kid nutritious meals from scratch. The yochien has its own kitchen with see through windows, and you can see the chefs working on prepping vegetables and other ingredients all morning. It puts American schools to shame, really. But unfortunately, this blissful respite is over for the school is now having a kind of summer vacation, when many students go off and do other things with their families. They have what they call “waku waku time” or exciting fun play time instead, offered for working mothers or those with new babies etc. so Kid Yum is attending that. But the downside is that she no longer gets those delicious lunches during break, and I have to make her her own bento every day. Eek!

I made a bento before for the oya-ko ensoku (parent-child outing) when we went to a camp wilderness area and did scavenger hunts etc, but that was basically just a lot of things that I like. I didn’t pack it up in a real bento. For that, I made roasted kabocha pumpkin slices, inari zushi, and spring rolls with peanut sauce, boiled eggs, and Roasted Chickpeas. So, today I made Kira her first official kid-serving bento.

Today’s Bento included:

  • gluten-free brown rice pasta (Trader Joe’s that we had packed in our suitcase here) and mixed it with a little olive oil, tomato basil sauce, and herbamare.
  • a double serving of Just Bento’s tamagoyaki recipe
  • Matchstick raw carrots
  • sliced baby tomatoes
  • And last but not least,

    Roasted Broccoli
    1 head of broccoli, washed, cut into long stemmed florets
    olive oil
    bouquet garni
    smoked paprika

    Preheat an oven to 450 (or use a toaster oven). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place your broccoli florets on the pan and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Rub the olive oil into the florets and sprinkle them with herbamare, bouquet garni and smoked paprika. Yes, I brought all of these herbs from the states because I love them so.
    Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes and check. Turn and cook for another 5 to 15 minutes depending on how roasted you want them to be.

    Snapshots of School Life and Events in Japan:

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