This is a three layer picnic basket, and I use it as a family size bento box. I got it from the Trade Aid shop and it is perfect for Japanese food: I put napkins, sake cups (or other drinks) and fruit in the bottom basket, then small plates and wooden Japanese bento picks in the middle basket (no chopsticks today, this is all food that you can eat with your fingers, but you can use the picks for the omelette), and the food in the top tray. There is a lid for the top and a handle to carry it. It looks very stylish.
|Picnic giapponese in cesto a tre piani|
To line the baskets I used some bamboo leaves from my garden, I cut some patterns in some of the leaves to make them more interesting. The food is: Ume Onigiri, Salad Sushi rolls, Nori Omelette, Edamame beans and garnishes.
Salad Sushi Rolls
Wash the sushi rice (or Japanese rice) several times in cold water, until the water runs clear, and then cook it by absorption. The doses are about 1 and 3/4 (three quarters) cups of sushi rice for 2 cups of water, but that depends on the type of pot. You need a pot with a good lid, or you will loose too much steam. I kind of regulate myself by ear now, since I know my pots and pans. Bring the pot to boiling point, lower the heat and simmer until all the water has been absorbed. Once the rice is ready pour it into a bowl and stir it with a wooden spatula, cooling it with a fan if you can. I then add some ready made sushi vinegar, about 2 tablespoons, but this is my personal taste. If I don't have sushi vinegar I use 2 tbsp of rice vinegar, a little sugar and a little salt (to taste, and I don't like to use too much sugar or salt!). Roll the rice with nori seaweed and the filling of your choice: I used carrots, takuan (Japanese pickled daikon) and rocket salad).
|Foglie di bamboo come tovagliette|
To make the rice balls cook some Japanese (or sushi) rice as explained above but do no dress with rice vinegar, leave it plain. Start working it when it is still warm: wet your hands with water, and rub them with just a little salt, then shape the balls with your palms, sticking a whole ume (Japanese pickled plum) in the middle while you are working. This time I put the ume not inside but on top, for visual effect, and added a violet (edible) for decoration.
|Omelette alle alghe, palle di riso, sushi e fagiolini giapponesi|
Beat 4 free range eggs with 1 tsp of vegetable oil and 1 tsp of soy sauce. Heat a large frying pan greased with vegetable oil and pour in the eggs. Lift the sides gently to allow all the egg mixture to run trough and cook. When the omelette is ready to be rolled place one or two sheets of nori (cut it to fit the surface of your omelette) then roll it put. Cut and Serve.
The edamame beans are just boiled, I have been promising the kids that I was going to get them some Mameshiba since they saw them in Cooking Gallery Blog (I love her blog and the kids do too!!). Well, any kind of bean and nut can be a Mameshiba now, but edamame are the best mameshiba for me!
Carrots flowers, takuan slices, pickled ginger and little containers for soy sauce complete the first tray (and a wasabi tube is also in the bottom tray, in case we need it :-).
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©