Friday, July 15, 2011

Japanese Bento Basket

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

Nori Omelette 

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 ©


  1. What a gorgeous picnic basket and creative idea, I wish I was coming on the picnic too.

  2. Picnic at home tonight though, with this weather!!!!

  3. Oh wow Alessandra - this is absolutely fantastic! You're amazing to have put this together. We love sushi but only ever eat out for it. We've never been tempted to make it at home as it looks so fussy and hard to do! Maybe this summer...hmmm... ;)

  4. Very pretty picnic basket and delicious sushi.
    I'm following you.

  5. Oooooh!!!! It is so Japanese! You are more Japanesey than me! I want to go on a picnic with you!

  6. che lavoro certosino e divertente ;-)

  7. @ Sugar, not so difficult, I can assure you!

    @ Amelia, thank you and welcome

    @ SSN, :-)

    @ Astro, certosino??? ti assicuro che e' piu' veloce di quanto tu possa immaginare. Divertente.... di sicuro!

  8. Wow! So cute and appetizing! Would love to go to a picnic and eat these!

  9. Favoloso, il cestino super stylish e tutto il suo contenuto. Davvero, sembra un'immagine da stock photo!

  10. Alessandra ciao, mi piace tantissimo il tuo cestino, sei molto brava a fare tutte queste cosine giapponesi, vorrei provarci ma non so se sono capace.
    il cestino è proprio bello, lo sai che io qui non riesco a trovare neppure un contenitore rettangolare, diviso, non molto grande per mettere la pasta e la frutta, separate ovviamente, sono un paio di mesi che lo cerco per i miei figli, andrò in Giappone!!! baci

  11. io ho visto solo in giappone delle cose cosi belle fuori dal giappone è difficile

  12. Sono incantata. Un cestino da pic nic così sarei del tutto negata a prepararlo e mi dispiacerebbe quasi toccarlo. E' troppo bello. Complimenti, sei davvero brava. Bacioni, buon we

  13. Ale, questo Bento è fa-vo-lo-so!! È già un piacere guardarlo, figurati assaggiarlo!! Ma non organizzi assaggi via posta????....non riuscirei mai a replicarlo......:-)

  14. Grazie per i complimenti, troppo carini, ma vi assicuro che non e' tanto difficile, la prossima volta faccio la ricetta filmata, mi sa :-)

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  16. Ciao Alessandra, Che splendido bento, complimenti per la fantasia e per la Perizia nel realizzarlo, qui da te è molto bello!!
    continuerò a seguirti!
    Ciao loredana

  17. non riuscirò mai a fare una cosa così bella!! e del resto io non sono una cuoca infatti.... :)
    è splendida la presentazione, senza nemmeno guardare cosa ci avevi messo (ho guardato dopo) avevo già voglia di mangiarmi tutto il tuo bento...

    PS: è contestmania...pure a me è venuta voglia di partecipare ad un altro contest :))

  18. They are like real works of art Alessandra! :D

  19. @ Loredana, benvenuta :-)

    @ Bibi, dai partecipa che ti diverti!

    @ Lorraine, cheers :-)

  20. Ciao Ale, hai proprio ragione siamo in sintonia.... il tuo bento è elegantissimo! Un abbraccio e buona giornata, Chiara

  21. The food looks great as always - but the bento box adds a touch of elegance that makes it sensational!!

    Thanx for your lovely comment on my blog - hope you too are having a wonderful weekend!

  22. ALESSANDRA, GRANDIOSA!!! ce l'hai fatta a partecipare! dai che ci si diverte!
    e a diffondere un po' di cucina vegetariana non fa poi così male ^_^ ti abbraccio! Elena

  23. Absolutely gorgeous, Alessandra! Thank you, as always, for sharing!


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