O' Bento
Lunch & Learn


O' Bento

Holly taught a class all about making nutrtious and delicious bentos from scratch. The class, like our other Lunch and Learn sessions, was an intimate one, peppered with lots of anecdotes and helpful tips that make preparing these traditional Japanese dishes accessible.

We had some beautiful carrots growing in our garden, and Holly decided to turn them into rice bran pickles or tsukemono. Tsukemono refers to something which is pickled in Japanese food culture. There are many types of tsukemono, depending on what is used to pickle them. Rice bran pickles, also known as nukazuke, are vegetables pickled in a rice bran bed (nukadoko), made by mixing rice bran (nuka), salt, and water. The process of fermentation enhances the nutritional value of the vegetables, and the finished pickles refresh the palate and provide refreshment to counter the heaviness of rich foods.

A highlight of the lunch was Longhouse’s very own pork, skewered, marinated in shio-koji, and brushed with tare on the grill. Shio-koji is a fermented mixture of rice koji, water, and salt – it tastes fruity, sweet, and funky. When used as a marinade for meat, poultry, and vegetables, it imparts savory notes while the enzymes tenderize the protein.

Everyone learnt how to knead udon the traditional way – by treading on the dough (wrapped in plastic) with their feet! We made sure students brought a pair of clean socks for this activity, of course ;)

The finished bento boxes were a sight to behold – as nutritious as they were beautiful. Dressed udon, green beans tossed in seasoned tofu, freshly made tofu with kombu tsukudani, rice bran pickles, musubi, inarizushi, steamed greens, and a lovely salad of julienned carrot and beansprouts.