Totoro Vegetarian Zhajiangmian Bento


The fork / food pick is only a prop. No one in their right mind would eat noodles with it. šŸ˜›

You may remember from last week’s bentoĀ that I bought a new brand of vegetarian mince (Neal’s Yard). I decided to make a spicy Chinese noodle dish calledĀ ZhajiangmianĀ or jajamen in Japanese. Zhajiangmian is the Chinese equivalent of the spaghetti bolognese: wheat noodles topped with spicy pork mince sauce, spring onions and other toppings. I substituted pork with soya mince and mushrooms and used Shanghai noodles (white wheat noodles).

This week’s bento features Totoro, the titular character of animated film My Neighbour Totoro. I used the mince to form the body of Totoro and details from egg white and nori. Other components include julienned carrot and spring onion (scallion), egg yolk stars, and a radish eight-point star.

Unfortunately my minceĀ turned out a little dry; I decidedĀ not to postĀ the recipe. :-/

Hope everyone is having a great start to the week. šŸ™‚


Winnie xx


Mini Totoro Bento + Veggie Chirashizushi Recipe


Yesterday, I made a bento of vegetarianĀ chirashizushi (scattered sushi). Chirashizushi is perhaps the least known type of sushi in the UK, as many associate sushi with dainty bite-sized morsels of rice and fish. Chirashizushi is easy to make, requires minimal cooking, and can be easily adapted to suit various dietary needs. ItĀ is assembled from vinegared rice and a variety of colourful toppings (commonly fish and fish roe). This is my take (vegetarian, of course) on the chirashizushi.

The centrepiece of my bentoĀ is my homage to the humble sushi rice. Often the chirashizushi is chock-full of toppings that you can hardly see the most important ingredient, the rice… Ā without which, there would be no sushi! I chose Mini (Chibi) Totoro, aĀ Studio Ghibli character, as it is cute, white, and fluffy… just like perfectly cooked rice. Chibi Totoro is Big Totoro’s littlest ‘cousin’ in the filmĀ My Neighbour Totoro.Ā 

Here’s the recipe:

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Vegan Tom Kha Bento + Recipe


I hope everyone had a good weekend! šŸ™‚

I would have had a great weekend if it wasn’t for the cold I caught. But I promptly made a warming Tom Kha soup noodle bento to cheer myself up. Tom Kha is a Thai classic in the form of a spicy coconut broth that is fragrant and citrus-y. It usually contains chicken and fish sauce, but I altered the recipe to suit a vegan diet. I should make more vegan stuff. šŸ™‚

This flavourful vegan broth combines flavours from East and Southeast Asia, fusing quintessentially Thai flavours with some of my favourite East Asian ingredients.Ā As with most of my soup recipes, I love adding shiitake water (water which I use to reconstitute shiitake mushrooms) to my soup base as all the lovely flavours of the mushrooms are trapped in the water, giving the broth a rich umami taste. Accompanying the broth are tofu bunnies on a bed of rice noodles. Here’s the recipe:

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Mother’s Day Recipe: Vegetarian Oyakodon


OyakodonĀ is a nutritious, unpretentious, and wholesome one-dish meal typically consisting of eggs and chicken pieces laid over a hot bowl of rice. ItĀ is one of those dishes that I have tried and loved, but somehow forgotten about… until I saw Cosy Bites’Ā recipeĀ which inspired me to create a vegetarian version, since I am mostly vegetarian (I have become one of those annoying fish-eating veggie hybrids called pescetarians :P).

I have chosen to cook this dish to commemorateĀ Mother’s DayĀ due to its very symbolic name, which literally means ‘parent-child rice bowl’. Although Mothering Sunday falls in March in Britain, the May date is very special to me as it always falls within several days of my mum’s birthday, making it a double celebration.

Making this dish vegetarian is more challenging than I thought, as I had to find suitable veggie substitutes for two main ingredients: chicken and dashi (bonito fish stock). In this recipe, I used Quorn ‘chicken’ pieces and shiitake-kombu (kelp) stock. If you can’t find Quorn, use other meat substitute or seitan.

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Recipe: Odamaki-Mushi (Egg Custard Udon)


What do you get when you put chawanmushi and udon together?

Many of you have no doubt heard of or triedĀ chawanmushi, Japanese savoury egg custard served in a tea-bowl (chawan). TheĀ odamaki-mushiĀ is prepared in the same way asĀ chawanmushi, but substantiated with udon submerged in the egg mixture.Ā Odamaki-mushiĀ is perfect as a one-dish-meal. As well as ingredients are concerned, anything goes! Common ingredients include chicken, seafood, ginkgo nuts, shiitake mushrooms,Ā kamabokoĀ (decorative steamed fish cake), etc. but I decided to keep mine simple, as I doubt many Londoners have ginkgo nuts in their store cupboard –Ā I certainly don’t!Ā I made mine with meat-free Quorn ‘chicken’ pieces, mushrooms, and silken tofu.

Ingredients (serves 2):

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Recipe: Vegetarian Mushroom, Lentil, Quinoa, and Walnut ‘Meatballs’


Was craving for ‘meatballs’ the whole week. Finally got down to making some when my boyfriend Marc had the evening off. My ‘meatballs’ were vegetarian served with a spicy harissa tomato sauce and a tiny blob of Greek yoghurt. Delicious and frugal too! Here is the recipe:

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Recipe: Udon ai Funghi


Claudia my Italian colleague gave me a recipe for tagliatelle ai funghi (creamy mushroom tagliatelle) but I forgot to get tagliatelle on my way home from work. The only carbohydrate I had in my store cupboard was udon, so I decided to improvise and add an Asian twist to the Italian classic. The cream worked surprisingly well with the sesame oil and nori and the end result was, if I may say so myself, delightful. šŸ™‚ Here is the recipe.

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