Yuzu chicken and sushi bento box

  • medium
  • Makes 2
  • 2 hours 45 minutes
Not yet rated

This stunning sushi bento box recipe from Louise Robinson is one for those who want to take their lunches to the next level, featuring two types of maki and tuna sashimi alongside a plethora of other bento treats. This would work particularly well as a celebration picnic, or a surprise treat for a loved one who has to work on their birthday.

First published in 2016

Creating your own Japanese bento or lunch box, as you may have seen from my other bento recipes, is not as difficult as you think. Having mastered those dishes you might want to try and prepare something a little more elaborate for a special occasion. This bento box has a couple of slightly more advanced sushi recipes and would be perfect for a birthday lunch. There is a bit more work involved so it will take a little more time, but the recipes can be still be prepared in advance the night before and then finished and assembled in the morning.

It is absolutely essential to use sushi grade fish, which is suitable and safe for raw consumption, for the tuna sashimi and salmon and avocado maki. Speak to your local fishmonger or buy it online from a reputable supplier such as Kazari. You will also need a sushi mat to make the maki rolls. There are two different types of maki here, hosomaki which is rice rolled around around a filling, wrapped with a sheet of nori, and uramaki, where the rice is on the outside of the nori roll. If you have never made sushi before, you might like to practice with some rice to get the hang of the technique.




Chicken with yuzu and sesame

Crab crystal rolls

Tuna sashimi

Salmon and avocado maki

Vegetable maki

Pickled vegetables with seaweed and edamame

  • 1 handful of sea vegetables, dried
  • 3 tbsp of mirin
  • 3 tbsp of rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g of edamame, blanched if frozen
  • 1 carrot, shaved into thin strips
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 1 handful of radishes
  • 1 tbsp of pickled ginger, sliced

Cucumber, sesame and spring onion salad


Begin with the chicken with yuzu and sesame as this will need time to marinate. Mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, yuzu juice and togarashi in a bowl. Add the chicken thigh pieces, stir to coat, then cover and leave to marinate for 2–3 hours in the fridge
Before cooking, soak 6 wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes. Preheat the grill to high and line a grill pan with foil
Thread the marinated chicken onto the soaked skewers, leaving a little space between each piece. Cook under the hot grill, basting occasionally with the marinade until golden and sizzling. Allow to cool
Once cool, divide the lettuce leaves between each bento box to act as cups, then add the chicken skewers
For the crab rolls, place the crab meat in a bowl and mix in the lemon juice. Season with a little freshly ground black pepper then leave to one side
Cook the noodles as per packet instructions then drain and refresh in iced water
Bring a small pan of water to the boil over a medium heat. Add a pinch of salt then blanch the asparagus spears for 3 minutes until tender. Drain, cut in half lengthways then chill in iced water
Cut the thick stalks from the centre of the little gem lettuce leaves then tear in half
To prepare the rolls, have all the elements to hand along with a bowl of warm water. Lightly dampen a clean board so the wrappers don't stick
Dip a rice paper wrapper in the warm water, making sure it is wet all over but still firm. Lay it out flat on the board then scoop 1 tbsp of the crab meat and arrange in a strip down the middle of the rice paper
Sprinkle over half of the herbs and top with half the lettuce leaves, half the noodles and half the asparagus
Lift the top edge of the wrapper and fold it over the filling, tucking the edge underneath. Roll the wrapper towards you, folding in the sides as you go so that they are sealed inside and you end up with a long roll
Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make the second roll. Chill the rolls in the fridge until ready, then cut in half diagonally and divide the 4 rolls between 2 bento boxes
To make the tuna sashimi, use a very sharp knife to cut the fish into 0.5cm thick slices (or ask your fishmonger to do this for you)
Divide between the 2 bento boxes and scatter over the spring onions and sesame seeds. Combine the olive oil and lime juice to make a dressing and place in a sealed container
Place the soy sauce in a separate container and store with the extra lime wedges ready for serving
For the salmon and avocado maki, place the rice in a sieve and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Rest the sieve over a bowl and leave to drain for at least 15 minutes
Place the drained rice in a pan and add 180ml cold water. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and immediately reduce the heat to as low as possible to cook for a further 10 minutes
After this time remove from the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes with the lid on. Tip 100g of the cooked rice into a bowl and leave to cool, reserving the rest for the vegetable maki
Peel and thinly slice the avocado then toss the slices in a squeeze of lime juice. Slice the salmon into strips, each about 6cm long
Lay a trimmed nori sheet out on a sushi mat and have all the other ingredients ready to hand along with a small bowl of warm water. Wet your fingers and press half the rice over the nori, leaving a 1cm border along the top edge
Place a strip of salmon along the edge of the rice nearest to you and cover with slices of avocado and cucumber. Lift the edge of the mat and use your thumbs to roll it away from you, holding the filling in place with your finger
Continue to lift the mat until the filled nori forms a tight roll. Dab a little water over the clear border and press to seal the edges. Trim off the ends with a sharp knife to neaten the edges then cut the roll into 6 pieces
Repeat with the remaining ingredients to create a second roll then divide the rolls between the bento boxes. Add a small container of soy sauce and wasabi paste for dipping
For the vegetable maki, lay a trimmed nori sheet out on the sushi mat and have the other ingredients to hand along with a small bowl of warm water
Wet your fingers and press half of the reserved rice from the salmon maki over the sheet. Sprinkle with half of the sesame seeds
Lay a sheet of cling film over another sushi mat and flip the rice-covered nori over onto the cling film, rice-side down (the rice is very sticky so should hold in place)
Now that the nori sheet is exposed on top, lay 2 pairs of the green beans side-by-side along the edge nearest you, then top with half the avocado, chives and carrot
Place the tofu, tahini, chilli, lemon juice, sugar, ginger, garlic, pepper, salt, water and oil in a blender and whizz to a smooth sauce. Spread ½ tsp over the vegetable filling (any leftover sauce will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks)
Lift the edge of the mat and use your thumbs to roll it away from you, holding the filling in place with your fingers. Continue to lift the mat and the cling film until it forms a tight roll. Dab a little water over the edge and press to seal
Trim the ends with a sharp knife then cut the roll into 6 pieces. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and divide the finished maki between the bento boxes, adding a little container of soy sauce and wasabi paste for dipping
To prepare the pickled vegetables, first soak the dried sea vegetables in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the mirin in a small pan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Add the rice vinegar, sugar and salt and cook for 1 minute to dissolve. Pour into a large bowl to cool
Place the edamame beans in a bowl, pour boiling water over them and leave for 3 minutes. Drain and place in a bowl of iced water
Drain the sea vegetables and edamame beans and add to the mirin pickle with the remaining vegetables and pickled ginger. Mix well and leave to pickle in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, or alternatively overnight, before dividing between the boxes
For the cucumber salad, divide the cucumber sticks between the bento boxes and scatter over the spring onions. Whisk together the rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, chilli and salt in a bowl to form a dressing
Pour the dressing over the salads and garnish with the chopped coriander and sesame seeds
Keep the bento boxes in the fridge until ready to serve

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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