Monthly Recipe: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice Bento with Japanese Pickles

This month I was inspired to make something new after being offered a pickle press. Pickling is not something I’ve ever really considered doing, but when the lovely people at Kitchen Provisions got in touch and suggested I might like to try out their pickle press, how could I refuse? They also sent me a vegetable cutter (like a cookie cutter for vegetables), and so my mind turned to bento once again. Kitchen Provisions is a small company that has put together a range of kitchenware and kits that they believe are inspiring and go beyond the normal run of the mill kitchen equipment. As part of their launch, they have included a selection of Japanese items.

Sample goods from Kitchen Provisions

Beautifully presented – a present from Kitchen Provisions

 

Pickle Press  from Kitchen Provisions

Pickle Press – thank goodness it came with instructions!

 

Vegetable cutter from Kitchen Provisions

Vegetable cutter – so that’s how Japanese mums make carrot flowers!

 

Referring to the ever-trusty Just Bento Cookbook, I cobbled together a couple of recipes and came up with…

Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice Bento with Japanese Pickles

Ingredients for pickles

  • 1 small aubergine (Japanese-style if possible)
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 2 cabbage leaves
  • salt

Ingredients for rice

  • 2 rice cooker cups of uncooked sticky rice
  • 2 1/4 rice cooker cups of dashi stock
  • 2 cups/150g of mixed mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cooking sake
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 cup/120g precooked bamboo shoots

Other ingredients

  •  1 small sweet potato
  • sea salt
  • honey
  • 1 carrot
  • broccoli

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Method

First, the pickles! I followed the detailed instructions that came with my pickle press as I had absolutely no idea what I was doing!

Take one small (Japanese-style) aubergine, trim off the leaves, split in half and cut into thin slices diagonally.

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Slice the cucumber thinly (and save a bit of cucumber for later!).

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Cut 2 cabbage leaves into 1cm wide strips.

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

The amount of salt you need for the recipe depends on the weight of the vegetables once chopped. The quantity of salt is 2-3% of the weight of the vegetables, so for 200g of vegetables you need 4-6g of salt.

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Sprinkle the vegetables with salt, mixing well to ensure good coverage. Transfer the vegetables to the pickle press and turn the screw to apply pressure.

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

The pickles will be ready in around 30 minutes.

Next, the mushroom and bamboo shoot rice. This is actually a combination of two recipes from the Just Bento Cookbook.

Chop the mushrooms and put them in a bowl with the soy sauce, cooking sake, mirin and a pinch of sea salt. Mix well.

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Add the bamnboo shoots.

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Put the washed rice in the rice cooker with the mushroom mix, bamboo shoots and dashi stock. (By the way, for the dashi stock, I just use a powder but you can make your own.)

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Whilst the rice is cooking and the pickles are pickling, prepare the next part – pan-steamed sweet potato (also from the Just Bento Cookbook). Cut the sweet potato into thin rounds.

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Put the sweet potato into a pan in a single layer and add just enough water to cover the slices.

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Cover and cook over a medium heat for about 8-10 minutes.

Whilst the potatoes are steaming, the rice is cooking and the pickles are pickling, prepare some pretty vegetables! Using a vegetable cutter, cut out flower shapes using carrots and cucumbers.

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

It’s touches like this that can really make a bento look good!

Whilst all this is going on, don’t forget to steam some broccoli.

The rice should be done by now:

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

As should the potatoes and pickles.

Drain the potatoes and drizzle with a little honey.

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Assemble your bento!

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

My first attempt at pickles – not bad at all!

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

You can basically add anything to rice, but mushrooms and bamboo shoots work really well.

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Pretty veg!

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

Sweet potato and steamed broccoli.

Cooking: Mushroom & Bamboo Shoot Rice with Pickles

☆★☆

I’ll be back in December with a new recipe! If you have any suggestions, or perhaps you would like me to try one of your recipes from a book or website, please leave a comment below or get in touch! All the recipes I try on this blog have some connection to Japan and, because I don’t eat meat, they need to be vegetarian or pescetarian. I’m particularly interested in helping to promote Japanese recipe books, so do let me know if you have one I might like!

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