Prawn nigiri, Japanese omelette and pork meatball bento box

  • medium
  • Serves 2
  • 1 hour 30 minutes
Not yet rated

Louise Robinson fills her beautiful bento boxes with a host of treats for a next-level lunchtime feast, featuring prawn nigiri, ginger pork meatballs, a striking carrot salad and Japanese omelette. If you're looking for a slightly quicker bento box, check out Louise's simple bento box recipe.

First published in 2016

If you have been fortunate enough to visit Japan, or enjoy Japanese food, you will almost certainly have seen or heard of bento boxes. Comprised of little compartments filled with rice, sushi, meat and vegetables, these beautifully arranged lunch boxes originated in Japan, but are now popular all over the world.

Ready-made bento boxes are often available in Japanese restaurants and outlets, but can be easily created at a home. You can prepare most of the dishes the night before, so the box is easy to assemble the following morning, and even a simple bento can look like a work of art.

These dishes require just a little more effort that my simple bento box recipe, but are still fairly quick and easy to prepare. The Japanese omelette may look a little daunting if you have never made one before, but actually they are not too difficult to master. A good nonstick frying pan is the only essential piece of equipment. The only other tricky element is moulding the rice to form the prawn nigiri. The best tip here is to have a small bowl of water on the worktop. The rice is incredible sticky, but keeping your fingers wet will make it much easier to work with!




Sesame and ginger pork meatballs with soba noodles

Prawn nigiri

Japanese omelette

Carrot and bean salad

Edamame beans with soy sauce


Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
Begin by making the meatballs. Place the pork, breadcrumbs, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, 1 tsp of the sesame oil, the shichimi togarashi, green onion, egg, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well until all of the ingredients are combined. Put a large deep-sided roasting tray in the oven for 5 minutes or until hot
Take a tablespoonful of the pork mixture, roll into a ball and place on a plate. Repeat until you have used all of the mixture
Drizzle the groundnut oil onto the hot tray, add the meatballs and return to the oven to cook for 5 minutes
While the meatballs are cooking, put the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, 1 tsp sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and honey in a bowl and stir to combine
Remove the tray from the oven, add the dashi mixture and gently stir to coat the meatballs
Return to the oven and cook for another 15 minutes or until the sauce is sticky and the meatballs are golden brown. Once cooked, set aside and allow to cool
Meanwhile make the prawn nigiri. Place the rice in a sieve and wash under the cold tap until the water runs clear. Rest the sieve on a bowl and leave to drain for at least 15 minutes
Place the rice in a saucepan and add 180ml of cold water. Bring the pan to the boil, cover with a lid and immediately reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 10 minutes
Turn off the heat, do not remove the lid and leave for another 10 minutes. Tip 100g of the rice into a bowl and leave to cool. You will have some rice leftover which you can refrigerate and use for another dish
Prepare and arrange the prawns and wasabi around a large clean board. You will also need a small bowl of water
Run a knife down the underside of each prawn, taking care not to cut all the way through. Gently press on the top of the prawn to flatten it
Place a prawn upside down in the palm of your hand and spread a dab of wasabi paste over the underside
The rice will be very sticky, so wet your fingers in the bowl of water before taking a large pinch of rice and pressing it over the wasabi paste
Wetting your fingers again if necessary, place your index finger and ring finger either side of the rice and your middle finger on top. Press gently to form a long rectangle and around the ends to tidy them up. Repeat with the rest of the rice and prawns
To make the Japanese omelette, place the mirin, soy sauce, 1 tsp of chopped chives and bonito flakes in a bowl. Add the eggs and whisk to combine
Place a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add 1 tsp of groundnut oil, ensuring that the base of the pan is covered
Pour a small ladleful of the egg mixture into the pan, tilting it so it covers the bottom of the pan. Cook for a few seconds until the egg starts to set. Lift one side of the omelette using a palate knife and roll it in on itself towards one end of the pan
Leave the rolled up omelette on the far side of the pan and pour in another small ladle of egg mixture, lifting the rolled omelette up so the uncooked egg flow underneath it
When the egg has just set, roll the original omelette and the just-set one together, towards you using two palette knives or spatula. Repeat with the rest of the mixture until the egg is used up
Slice the rolled up omelettes into pieces and leave to cool, then set aside until ready to assemble the boxes
For the carrot and green bean salad, cook the green beans for 2 minutes in plenty of salted boiling water. Drain and place in a bowl of iced water
Place a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the pumpkin and sunflower seeds, stirring occasionally until toasted. Take the pan off the heat and immediately add 1 tbsp of the soy sauce, which will create a dark salty coating
Heat the groundnut oil in a small pan and add the shallots, water and sugar. Cover with a lid and cook on a very low heat for 10 minutes
Mix the remaining 3 tbsp of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, grated ginger, black pepper and wasabi paste in a bowl
When the shallots are soft and golden, add them to the soy mixture. Pour over the sesame oil and stir to combine and make a dressing
Place the green beans and carrot shavings into a bowl, add 1–2 tablespoons of the dressing and toss to combine
Place the edamame bean pods in a steamer and cook for 3 minutes, or alternatively boil for 2 minutes. Drain well
To assemble the boxes, divide the edamame pods between the bento boxes, drizzle with a little soy sauce and sprinkle with sea salt
Place a row of omelette next to the edamame and sprinkle with a few chopped chives. Place a row of prawn nigiri on the other side of the omelette, with a little pickled ginger and a container of soy sauce on the side
Divide the soba noodles and meatballs between the bento boxes in small piles. Sprinkle with chopped coriander, sesame seeds and extra shichimi tōgarashi, Add the carrot and bean salad and garnish with the toasted seeds
First published in 2016

Louise Robinson is a former fashion accessories designer turned freelance food writer, stylist and photographer now based in the Sussex countryside.

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