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Posted on May 1, 2007 in Bento, Fish or Seafood, For Kids, Pasta or Noodles, Poultry, Recipe | 19 comments

Pasta lunch and sanbaizu recipe

Pasta lunch and sanbaizu recipe


Morning prep time: 3 minutes. These were all leftovers, and I pre-packed the pasta the day before for speedy morning prep.

  • Sanbaizu broccoli: broccoli made in the microwave steamer and tossed with a sweet vinegar dressing that I keep on hand for speed (“sanbaizu”, recipe below)
  • Shell pasta and cheese with tuna fish, green onions, spaghetti sauce and yellow bell pepper (microwaved in a covered dish with a little water, then drained)
  • Chicken salad

Pasta lunch for toddler

I keep a bottle of homemade sanbaizu dressing in the refrigerator as a quick flavoring for vegetables and throw-together vinegared salads (like thin-sliced cucumber). It’s also excellent with seafood (especially as a dipping sauce for steamed or boiled crab). I brought some along to a Dungeness crab boil a while back, and it was a big hit even among people who don’t care about Japanese food one way or the other.

Sanbaizu (three-flavored vinegar) is one of the four main vinegar dressings in Japanese cuisine, made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, dashi (bonito stock) and sugar. The other vinegar dressings are:

Nihaizu (two-flavored vinegar) with vinegar, soy and dashi
Amazu (sweetened vinegar) with vinegar, dashi and sugar
Ponzu dressing with citrus juice, vinegar, soy, mirin, bonito flakes and konbu

Sanbaizu #1 (sweet vinegar dressing)
3 Tb rice vinegar
1/4 tsp soy sauce
2 Tb sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 Tb dashi (bonito stock — instant hon dashi is fine)

Sanbaizu #2 (sweet vinegar dressing)
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1.5 Tb sugar
1/4 tsp salt

* Recipes adapted from Quick & Easy Japanese Cuisine for Everyone , Yukiko Moriyama.

Lunch in a Box is nominated for Best Food Blog in the Blogger’s Choice Awards. If you’d like to cast your vote for speedy lunch packing, click here (you can vote for multiple blogs in the same category).




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  1. that looks wonderful
    i’m going to try it sometimes

    i did vote for you a while back i forgot to mention it
    keep up the good work!

  2. I really like your blog. You have great - cute and ecological - ideas. Keep up the entertaining work i’m looking foward to learn new techniques and recipes and anything that comes in your lunches!

  3. Thanks kohaku, for the nice comment and the vote! I think I only need about 5-6 more votes to move into 9th place and onto the top page (displacing one of the vegan blogs). Wish me luck, I’ll need it!

  4. Thank you for the kind words! I’ll try to stay informative…

  5. How do you make small amounts of dashi? I always use hon dashi, but make much more than I need. Can it be frozen?

  6. I eyeball it — pour however many tablespoons of water I need into a small bowl and then sprinkle in a little of the hon dashi granules until it tastes about right. Add to my cooking.

    But yes, you absolutely can freeze dashi! Try freezing it in ice cube trays (half filled and fully filled), then dumping all of the cubes into a freezer bag. That way you have dashi in one or two tablespoon increments ready whenever a recipe calls for it. I do this on the occasions that I actually make dashi from scratch, and I always have a stash of homemade chicken stock in the freezer (plus canned stuff downstairs in case I run out).

  7. I love your posts! I found you from the bentolunch community. I have a stupid question about bonito - I have cat treats made of dried, shaved bonito (Kitty Kaviar, and they LOVE it) - is that the exact same thing as the bonito flakes, do you think? Just curious…

  8. Hmm, if all it is is dried, shaved bonito then it should be the same thing as bonito flakes. My old cat used to LOVE bonito flakes — we put it on his food when he got really old to entice him to eat (very fragrant, so it cut through his deteriorating sense of smell).

  9. I love your blog! ( and I voted for you too!)

    do you just mix all the ingrediants together or do you boil them or anything?

    You should your husband was GF ( I am too!) How was he undiagnosed? and with what? (if you dont mind, its just my wishful thinking that I dont have celiac)

  10. Thanks Laurie! For the pasta, I microwaved the bell pepper with a little water, drained, and then just stirred everything else in (I may have sauteed the green onions too — sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t). I often doctor mac & cheese with whatever I have on hand (saute a couple of veggies and maybe a protein, add them to the mac & cheese, and stir in some fresh herbs or green onion).

    Long story short on the GF front, it turned out that my husband was missing the gene marker. E-mail me at lunchinabox (AT) gmail (DOT) com and I can give you more details.

  11. I made the Sanbaizu this weekend. It was fabulous! Once I made it, my family was putting it on everything (chicken, asparagus, cucumbers). An excellent recipe! Thanks for sharing.
    BTW - LOVE your site.

  12. @13 from Laura: Hooray! Glad that worked out for you — it’s very versatile. If you have some ponzu on hand, you can also make the ponzu-sanbaizu vinaigrette I’ve posted about elsewhere on the site — great on regular salads.

  13. I know this is asking a lot, but could you mention if the book is in English or ‘other’ because Amazon doesn’t post what language it is in… You said…
    “Recipes adapted from Quick & Easy Japanese Cuisine for Everyone, Yukiko Moriyama.” But afraid to test book since I only read english & some spanish…

  14. @15, Tyr: It’s in English. If I reference a non-English book I mention it and give the original title, BTW.

  15. Sweet, thank you for that heads up! You’re awesome… Any ‘Rice Vinegar’ you prefer? I don’t think I’ve ever even owned a bottle of any vinegar before lol..

  16. @17, TyR: Off the top of my head, Marukan and Mitsukan are both good.

  17. @19 from Wakkun: Welcome then, Wakkun! Feel free to comment even on old entries with any questions or thoughts; I keep up with them via the Recent Comments widget in the sidebar.

  18. In a few of your tutorials you mention dashi. What is it and can it be substituted for something else?

    At the moment I live in Paris and we can get Japanese food, but we’re moving and might not be able to, so I’m looking for alternatives.

  19. Glad you like it aj! Seriously, try it with crab. Unbelievable.