Friday, April 9, 2010

Bento of the Day: Vegetarian Bento w Inari

I'm trying to eat a little healthier at home to counter balance my dining out. Since I've moved in with M I've taken on a lot of his bad eating habits, including eating meat at (nearly) every meal, serious snacking in front of the television, and generally eating richer foods. Before, I used to go through packages of whole wheat pasta fast, and ate more vegetables, being that my breakfasts and lunches were generally meat-free.

Here is my lunch for today - vegetarian, and my first time playing around with inari. I've never had them at home, only in combinations and takeout from the nearest sushi bar. A friend got me hooked on them. Initially, the sweet flavour really didn't resonate with me, but as time went on I actually craved it! The bonus? Paying $4-6 for 12-16 of them at T&T, versus paying per piece in restaurants for $1.50 to $2.50 or more.

Four pieces of inari, stuffed with brown rice mixed with seasoned rice vinegar. Left to right, one is topped with kinpura Belgium Endive, gomaae, watered down gochujang, and one simply sprinkled with togarashi. I completed the meal with a simple green salad and campari tomato (I had some sesame dressing at work).

As I only had white sushi rice at home, I used regular brown rice instead. Gross, I know. But it worked for me. I was surprised how the toppings worked - I think I'll be making more kinpura vegetables from now on. It is a simple method of frying the shredded vegetable, then seasoning with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and sake. As Belgian Endive is generally bitter, the sugar and sake, paired with the natural sweetness of the inari pocket was a good combo (for me anyways). The brown rice added some nuttiness, although the texture (as it was regular rice) was not favourable.

The gomaae also worked - as I was eating I remembered that I had neglected to add sugar to the cashew and sesame dressing, but again, the sweetness of the inari worked well. If I had added sugar to the dressing, it would have been too sweet. Two for two! How was the gochujang? It provided a much needed "savoury" flavour to the meal. Although the sauce was still slightly sweet, there were touches of spiciness from the Korean chili pepper. As for the final one, it was the only one which needed any soy sauce.

So, do you stuff your own inari at home? (Gosh that sounds dirty.) What do you use? I want some ideas!

Previous bentos:
Hainanese Chicken
Quichie-Quichie Bentos
Holy Meatballs!
Healthy Bento
His and Hers Bentos
Plushie Bentos (My favourite!)


  1. Please post your recipe for gomaae!

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting Elaine! I'll have a post next week for the gomaae. It is so easy!

  3. Oh I love inari. I've only ever made the typical boring stuffing, with just seasoned sushi rice, but I've had a yummy variation that had chopped up tamago, shiitake mushrooms and oshinko before. Your brown rice version sounds great!

  4. Thanks for the comments Phyllis! I changed it up in further renditions with sauteed mushrooms, spinach and radish sprouts, and avocado - was really good! Definitely doing this again.


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