HANAMI BENTO, TOKYO

Setting up for the picnic.

Setting up for the picnic.

Photographer Yuri Manabe spent a recent afternoon in Nogawa park, in Musashino on the west side of Tokyo, at a Hanami picnic. Hanami is the act of enjoying flowers in the spring. In this case, the cherry blossoms were out in full bloom. Mona Hirai, Ayano Suzuki, Shizuka Ukawa, Asako Makimura lounged and looked at the trees and ate a Hanami bento made by chef Remina Shito.

Recipes after the photos.

-photographs by Yuri Manabe

Tea, chirashi, bento, dessert.

Tea, chirashi, bento, dessert.

Perfect picnic spread.

Perfect picnic spread.

Tiny bunny mochi.

Tiny bunny mochi.

Chirashi sushi rice (see recipe below).

Chirashi sushi rice (see recipe below).

Playing in the trees.

Playing in the trees.

CHIRASHI SUSHI

SUSHI
Rice3 cups sushi rice
Small handfuls of:
Carrot
Dried gourd shavings
Freeze-dried tofu
Dried shiitake mushrooms

SUSHI VINEGAR
1 ⅕ teaspoons sal
t⅓ cup rice vinegar
1 ½ tablespoon white sugar

KINISHI TAMAGO TINSEL EGG
2 eggs
Pinches of:
Salt
Sugar
Potato starch

GARNISH
Cured Yae flower (a type of cherry blossom — pickled Sakura is more common and can be used in its place)
Green Laver
Leaf Bud

Boil rice more gently than usual. While the rice is cooking, prepare the sushi vinegar by whisking together salt, rice vinegar and white sugar. Season the cooked rice with this mixture and mix it up by cutting the rice with a paddle. Allow to cool.

Bring a pot of water to a boil then add the dried gourd shavings, freeze-dried tofu, & dried shiitake mushrooms and cook until soft. Drain and shred into thick pieces.Repeat the above process (boil, drain, shred) with carrot then combine with the above ingredients and season to taste with soy sauce and sugar. Set aside.

Make the tinsel egg: Beat 2 eggs with a little sugar, salt, and potato starch. Then cook in a hot skillet, spreading a thin layer of egg over the bottom of the skillet, cook for a minute, turn over, cook another minute and remove. Repeat until all egg is cooked in thin sheets. Then cut into ribbons with scissors.

To assemble the chirashi, put rice in the nest of a box and top with tinsel egg and tofu vegetable mixture in a decorative pattern. Garnish with Yae flower, laver and leaf bud. 

Sarah Keough