I was expecting tasty but not mind-blowing, but after whipping a batch of this leaf-green hummus in the food processor, I don't really see much chickpea-based hummus in my future—it was just that good. The edamame has a simple sweetness that plays down the earthy qualities of the roasted garlic and tahini. While chickpea hummus has a tendency to be heavy and pasty, this version is light with a fantastic green freshness. Its versatile flavors work equally well as a sandwich spread or condiment on its own.
'Makiko Itoh' on Serious Eats
Thinly sliced cucumber and turnips are massaged with salt to eliminate some of their moisture, then dressed with a mix of yuzu zest and juice for a bright, citrusy pickle that retains its crispness beautifully. This salad acts as equal parts vegetable, condiment, and palate cleanser making it a wonderful bento companion for any of the Japanese-inspired proteins in The Just Bento Cookbook.
Chicken Kara-age AKA Japanese fried chicken (or JFC for short) is a total crowdpleaser. These little chunks of soy-sake-ginger marinated chicken coated in cornstarch and deep-fried until golden have a tendency to disappear almost as quickly as they come out of the fryer.
These Miso Tofu Nuggets with Edamame are perfect bento material—crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside croquettes of tofu mixed with big, umami flavors. The tofu is whipped together with ginger, miso, sesame oil, scallions, and edamame, forming a salty, custardy batter that's dipped in cornstarch then shallow-fried.
Makiko Itoh, friend of SE and mastermind behind Japanese food blog Just Hungry has a passion for the boxed lunches known in Japan as bento. She's been blogging about the subject over at Just Bento since 2007, championing the bento as a tool for healthy, delicious, and affordable eating, making a good case for why a bento lunch is way more satisfying than brown-bagging it. Enter to win a copy of The Just Bento Cookbook, Itoh's newly released guide to all things bento.