Ok so I am finally following through on a long promised blog post. Three weeks ago me and Jamie attended a Bento Brunch Workshop ran by the lovely Sara from Shiso Delicious, with Clearspring. The event was at Whole Foods Market in Kensington. I wasn't sure what to expect because I have never done a foodie workshop before, and typical me I was feeling super anxious before hand. There were a few tears but we got there on time, and I'm so glad we did. It was amazing, I learnt so much, I ate so much and I walked away feeling super inspired and motivated.
Have you ever been to the Whole Foods Market in Kensington? If not then I strongly urge you to visit ASAP, if like me you are a massive foodie. It is huge! I had never been there before but I walked in and immediately felt like I had found my spiritual home. The bottom two floors are a massive super market filling all your health food wishes, while the upstairs is filled with individual food stands selling everything from sushi to pizza. Tucked away on this floor, in a secluded space with giant windows that offer views of Kensington below, was the workshop. I dream of one day living in Chelsea, tottering down to Stamford Bridge every other weekend to watch the best football team in the world kick ball and then making my way up to Kensington Whole Foods to do my weekly shop. A girl can dream can't she.
We welcomed in with lovely Clearspring Japanese roasted twig tea also known as Kukicha, roasted twig may sound odd but it was delicous, it reminded me of maple. Then we got on to what a bento box actually is. And what is it I hear you cry, well essentially it's a Japanese lunch box. Sara explained that while she was on an exchange year in Japan she had had Bento every day for school. The word bento comes from a Japanese slang term for convenient or convenience. The main component of any bento is rice. Sara then explained how she had adapted the art of bento to suit her clean plant based diet.
We were then given the opportunity to try Sara's indulgent marble chocolate matcha cake. Both me and Jamie loved it, we kept sneak eating more squares. At then end of the workshop we recieved a number of recipe cards, one of which was this cake, I can't wait to try the recipes out, I'll share some photos when I do!
Next we moved on to cooking demonstrations, Sara showed us how she creates a variety of bento box components. I loved watching her work, I learnt so much and I've continued to be inspired by what she taught us in my cooking. She spoke about balancing flavours, heat, sweet and sour and balance ingredients in the box. She said she focuses on five groups, grains ie. rice, vegetables, protein, sweet and sprinkles.
Once all the bento box components were cooked and assembled, we watched Sara build her own box and then we got the oppurtunity to make our own. There was so much good food on offer I wanted all of it, however this did end up with my box looking rather haphazard, but it's all about the taste right? and the taste was divine! I went back for seconds, and we snuck a couple more slices of cake for good measure. The box on the left is mine and the box on the right is Jamie's.
Once everyone was sat round eating, Sara took the oppurtunity to talk to lots of us individually. She was super lovely, and gave me some really good advice for growing my blog and my next steps.
Clearspring gave us all a goodie bag as we left, I'd been eyeing them up ever since I walked in hoping we might get some goodies. And we did. And what a goodie bag it was, full of ton of Clearspring's amazing organic authentic Japanese products. It included umami paste with ginger, tamiri, silken tofu, brown rice miso paste and sweet white miso paste, instant miso soup, rice crackers, udon noodles, seaveg crispies, green nori sprinkle, green tea, coconut water and olive oil. It all came in a rather stylish hessian bag that has become my favourite bag for food shopping. I was overwhelmed with the amount of loot we got, and I'm so excited to experiment with all the products. They are all products I will definitely use and as Clearspring is organic and top quality this is going to save me a whole lotta dollar!
I really want to thank Sara, Clearspring and Whole Foods for an brilliant day. I would really recommend following Sara's blog and instagram, she is #foodgoals! I left feeling on top of the world, and thoroughly well fed! I was so inspired by the workshop I decided to create my own bento box for you all. The one below is all packed up and ready to come with me on my drive to Devon tomorrow (the observant among you might notice I was supposed to leave today, as I said in my last blog post, but my mum's car window was smashed so there was a whole thing!) I used some of the techniques demonstrated by Sara, mixed in with a little of my own style depending on what I had available! I used Clearspring tamiri and brown rice miso paste for this recipe. I also visited an Asian supermarket to pick up gochujang, Korean red chilli. Sara used a lot of ume plum vinegar, I traded this for apple cider vinegar, but I topped my rice with ume plum seeds which I found on a trip to Borough Market.
Makes two bento boxes
For the miso beans
1 can of mixed pulses
1 teaspoon agave
1 teaspoon gochujang (Korean red chilli)
1 teaspoon brown rice miso paste
3 tablespoons water
For the quick pickle red cabbage
1/4 red cabbage
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon tamiri
For the rice
1/2 cup Thai jasmine rice
1/2 cup wild black rice
2 cups water
For the dressing
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons tamiri
2 teaspoons agave
2 teaspoon gochujang
To serve (optional)
spiralized courgette (mine is yellow would ya look at that!)
ume plum seeds
1) Bowl 1 cup of water on the stove and add the black rice. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer until the rice has absorbed all the water, around 25 minutes.
2) Wash the Thai jasmine rice in cold water. Add that to one cup of bowling water in a separate pot on the stove and allow to simmer until all the water has been absorbed, this will take less time than the black rice around 15-20 minutes. (Don't do what I did the first time and cook them in the same pot as the black rice will turn the white rice black too!)
3) While the rice is cooking strain the can of mixed pulses. Add them, the agave, gochujang, miso and water to a pan on a low heat and allow the beans to heat through.
4) Thinly slice the red cabbage. Place in a large bowl and add the grated ginger, apple cider vinegar, and tamiri. Work the liquid into the cabbage with your hands by squeezing the it.
5) In a jug mix together all the dressing ingredients.
6) Once the rice is cooked assemble your bento box, adding your raw toppings too.
7) Pack for work or school and enjoy while your colleagues or classmates stare on with envy!