Elementary School Lunch: 12/24 - Merry Christmas Eve!

Food, JapanKristina PinoComment

It's Christmas Eve (almost Christmas Day for me now at the time of writing), and today was our last school lunch of the second term as well as of 2014. Rather than a Christmas cake like last year though, we had this sort of Christmas pudding as a dessert, which was pretty tasty. It was strawberry flavored, with strawberry sauce on top and a little bit of whipped cream. I didn't get a picture because, well, who could resist after opening up the cup?

The rest of our meal was awesome, too. Hashudo beef, one of my favorite Japanese foods, with rice and salad. The bowl had bits of beef in it, of course, along with edamame, mushroom, carrot, and onion. Simple, but so, so tasty. As for the salad, it was cauliflower, broccoli, corn, and cabbage, with carrots cut into star shapes and sesame seed dressing. Festive and delicious.

Lunch posts will return January 8th!

Bonus shot of the salad from Instagram.

Calorie count: 676

Elementary School Lunch: 12/22 - Touji Pumpkin

Food, JapanKristina PinoComment

Today is Touji, or rather the shortest day of the year. On this day, as explained to me by a friend, Japanese eat pumpkin and take baths with yuzu, a type of citrus fruit, floating in the water. So today, our main lunch item was a pumpkin croquette, which was so very tasty.

The croquette was accompanied by some cole slaw salad (cabbage, corn, and cucumber with cole slaw dressing), an egg and hijiki seaweed soup, and some brown bread. The soup had carrot, onion, enoki mushroom, spinach, and bits of bacon in it aside from those other things.

Only one lunch left before the official end of this term! That'll be on Wednesday, since tomorrow is a public holiday. After that, lunch posts will resume in January.

Bonus shot of the salad and croquette from Instagram.

Calorie count: 649

Elementary School Lunch: 12/18 - 12/19 - End of Second Term

Food, JapanKristina PinoComment

These two days marked the end of my teaching days for the second term of this school year. I still have to go in on Monday and I've got the closing ceremony on Wednesday, but I won't be teaching - just preparing for next term and whatever else. It's crazy how quickly time is flying by this year...

Thursday (12/18): noodle day! We had Kanton-men, a veggie spring roll, and some namul. The namul or salad had mostly spinach, but also bean sprouts, cucumber, and carrot. As for the soup our noodles were to be dipped in, it had shrimp, squid, and pork, as well as well as onion, carrot, Chinese cabbage, and cloud ear fungus. The spring roll had cabbage, onion, carrot, and bamboo. 

Great meal - I liked the flavor of the broth. Bonus shot of that from Instagram.

Calorie count: 612

Friday (12/19): Fish, salad, and a houtou soup. The houtou are those noodle-looking things in there, which had the floppiness and consistency of wonton but are actually udon noodles that are flat and wide. It's a specialty of Yamanashi prefecture, and it had some other good stuff in there like miso, pumpkin, onion, Chinese cabbage, shiitake and shimeji mushroom, and bits of chicken. The salad was one of our regular cabbage with carrot and spinach deals, and the seasoning was mixed with ginger.

Great end to the week. Bonus shot of the soup from Instagram.

Calorie count: 680

Elementary School Lunch: 12/17 - Nan-less Keema Curry

Food, JapanKristina PinoComment

We usually have Nan on our keema curry days, but for some reason rice was in order today. No complaints here, though - I love it either way. Our curry bowl was accompanied by a simple seaweed salad, since we hardly need much to distract from the awesomeness. The salad was just cabbage, spinach, two or so kinds of seaweed, and carrot with a sweet-tasting vegetable dressing.

As for the curry bowl, it had beans of course, along with sausage, ground pork, onion, carrot, green pepper, as well as garlic and ginger for seasoning. I'm just sad there wasn't enough for seconds today: everyone had a heaping serving like what's in this picture, and there was just enough for that.

Extra shot of the curry bowl from Instagram.

Calorie count: 696

Elementary School Lunch: 12/16 - All Japanese

Food, JapanKristina PinoComment

Our lunches at school are often diverse or borrow this and that from other cuisines, but today's lunch was pretty much all-Japanese. The main plate had some Japanese omelet with lotus root kinpira (a kind of salad where the vegetables are sauteed), miso soup, and rice.

The lotus root was accompanied by carrot and konjac, and one of my co-workers even jokingly called it "countryside salad." It was seasoned simply then tossed with sesame seeds. As for the soup, it had sweet potato as a key ingredient, as well as bits of pork, tofu, onion, carrot, and radish.

Overall simple meal, but tasty. Bonus shot of the salad from Instagram.

Calorie count: 679

Elementary School Lunch: 12/15 - Chilly Cheesecake

Food, JapanKristina PinoComment

Today was a bentou lunch day for our 5th and 6th graders, which means they were all required to bring a prepared lunch from home to school. This only occurs on designated days, and it always seems like with 200-odd less people to feed, the school tends to splurge on something or another. Today, it was cheesecake.

Our lunch was some fried wakasagi, a fish native to Hokkaido, with salad, minestrone soup, cocoa bread, and the aforementioned cheesecake. The salad was colorful with corn, cabbage, carrot, and spinach, and we topped it with sesame seed dressing. The soup itself was fab - tomato-based, with celery, parsley, potato, bits of bacon, pasta, beans, carrot, and onion. The cocoa bread went really well with the soup, and the cheesecake was a perfect note to put it all together.

Great Monday.

Calorie count: 696

Elementary School Lunch: 12/12 - Winter Bibimbap

Food, JapanKristina PinoComment

It feels like forever since we last enjoyed bibimbap in our school lunch! Today's was good: some namul and scrambled egg and pork to top our rice with, and a side of Tok soup. The namul comprised spinach and bean sprouts, while the meat was mixed with some onions. As for the soup, it had the barest hint of a kick to it with a dash of pepper, but was otherwise nice and mild for the kiddos. Tok (or tteokguk) soup is a New Year's dish which consists of a thin broth and loads of rice cakes. Ours also had bits of bamboo, shiitake mushroom, onion, carrot, and cloud ear fungus.

One of my favorites.

Extra shot of the tray via Instagram.

Elementary School Lunch: 12/11 - Enter Winter Veggies

Japan, FoodKristina PinoComment

Today we finally saw the first batch of winter vegetables in our lunch, which came in the form of a winter vegetable cream stew. It was accompanied by a seafood salad, apple bread, and some mixed fruit jelly.

The stew had so many awesome flavors in it. It comprised turnip (and turnip greens), onion, Chinese cabbage, carrot, chicken, and potato. Simple, but so, so tasty. The seafood salad was cabbage, pasta shells, and spinach with bits of crab and seaweed and other seafood bits, dressed in Italian dressing. As usual, the apple bread had actual chunks of apple in it, and as usual, it went really well with the cream stew. I love the way the apple complemented the taste of the turnip.

Bonus shot of the salad from Instagram.

Calorie count: 630

Elementary School Lunch: 12/09 - 12/10 - Do a Hand Roll

Food, JapanKristina PinoComment

Whoops, looks like I missed yesterday's post. This week has been pretty busy~

Yesterday's lunch was temaki-zushi, or hand-rolled sushi, which is a great DIY lunch. Our tray comprised a bentou with sushi rice, some tonjiru or pork soup, some nori seaweed paper, and a plate of things to stuff into our rolls (two strips of omelet, a wiener sausage, two strips of cabbage, and some salmon). Oh, and some plum sauce to spice things up a little.

From there, it's up to us to prepare and eat our sushi however we like. It's great, some of my students make huge over-stuffed rolls, some of them eat over the rice and then crunch on the seaweed paper like potato chips, and still others make careful little rolls with one filling item each. It's cool watching them have at it their way.

Bonus shot of the soup from Instagram.

Calorie count: 690

Today's lunch was simple but perfect, I think, for a busy day. Nikujyaga, or meat and potatoes, with some salad, rice, and natto (fermented soy beans). The meat and potatoes dish is really easy to make: I've started cooking it at home! It's filling: potatoes, pork, konjac, onion, edamame, carrot, and shiitake mushroom. As for the salad, it was the usual cabbage with spinach and carrot and from-scratch dressing. The natto came with some soy sauce and karashi (a spicy Japanese mustard) as mix-ins.

I didn't get any bonus shots of today's meal, but if you want to see one of my favorite natto pictures, you can. I won't stop ya.

Calorie count: 681

Elementary School Lunch: 12/08 - Monday Mixed Potatoes

Food, JapanKristina PinoComment

I don't usually dread Mondays the way a lot of folks seem to according to social media. Truth be told, I usually feel worse about Tuesdays than any other day. Ya see, I'm usually pretty fresh on Mondays. Wednesday it's the middle of the week. Thursday it's the day before Friday. And Fridays are just Friday. Tuesdays don't have much going for them! Unless you're me, anyway. Tomorrow's lunch is awesome. But I won't spoil the surprise.

Today was an age-pan day. Fried bread with cocoa powder on top, to go with a veggie and meatball soup, and some "mixed" potatoes. Really, it's not mixed in the sense that there were different kinds of potatoes, just that there was corn, carrot, bacon, and pepper mixed with the one regular potato and a tiny bit of cheese. It was pretty good, though! The soup was rad, too. Italian style always tends to taste best with our chocolate breads, so I was glad to see pork and chicken-blend meatballs, onion, Chinese cabbage, parsley, and carrot mixed up nicely.

Bonus shot of the potatoes from Instagram. It doesn't do them any justice, though.

Calorie count: 628