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Recipe & Video: Spring Bento Box


Recipe & Video: Spring Bento Box

5 minutes

Temari Zushi is a traditional springtime meal that fits perfectly into a bento box along with fresh and healthy seasonal sides. Make this spring bento box to enjoy the beginning of warmer months!

Contributed by Washocook

Springtime calls for a picnic under the cherry blossoms! In traditional Japanese food culture, a bento box is much like how a lunch box is in the West. Bento boxes are a bit more interesting, however, and hold several different items that are meticulously prepared. In this easy to follow recipe and video, you will learn to make this cute spring bento box so you can go out and enjoy the weather with a picnic treat.

What is Temari Zushi in Spring Bento Box?

Temari Zushi is ball-shaped sushi that is perfect for parties and special occasions in Japan, including national Girl’s Day (Hinamatsuri) on March 3rd. Although you don’t see them very often in Japanese restaurants in the West, they are an essential part of Japanese food culture and are prepared just as much for their ornamental look as their fantastic taste. Bite-sized and fun to eat, Temari Zushi can be made from any of the ingredients you may be used to using for nigiri sushi.

In this spring bento box recipe, we use salmon, tuna, egg, and shrimp for a nice variety of both flavor and color. However, feel free to experiment as you see fit! Many Japanese people also layer their favorite vegetables, including cucumber or avocado, under the topping to make the Temari Zushi even more delicious. Check out our more advanced recipe for Temari Zushi for more ideas and more detailed instructions.

How to Make Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is one of the most popular ways to season food in Japanese cooking. You can, of course, purchase ready-to-use teriyaki seasoning, but making your teriyaki sauce tastes better! And the truth is, making it yourself is much easier than many people think. All of the ingredients, which are mirin, soy sauce, brown sugar, and sake, are easy to find at any Asian grocery store or online. Once you have learned to make your own, you can use it for a wide variety of different home-cooked meals. Just think of how impressed your friends and family will be when they try your homemade Teriyaki Sauce!

Sides and Placement

The sides that go in a bento box add various flavors that match the main part of the meal. However, there’s much more to it. They also add bright colors and designs to the bento box. In our spring bento box, the boiled spinach and the carrot Kinpira add an element of style to the bento box, just as they add healthy veggies and complementary tastes. This has much to do with the traditional Japanese art of plating, which aims to make dishes as aesthetically pleasing as they are delicious. Colors, asymmetry, and sticking to seasonal ingredients are known as the law of three in Japanese plating. Use this basic spring bento box to practice this ancient art and see for yourself how much it enhances the enjoyment of the meal.

Spring Bento Box Cooking Tips:

  • Goma-ae (cooking with sesame dressing) is an excellent recipe to remember. You can apply this recipe with various vegetables.
  • If you’re worried about carrying raw fish ingredients in your bento box for a long time, take a small ice pack to keep the bento box fresh. Or, you can opt to use smoked salmon instead of raw salmon, and use canned tuna instead of raw tuna.
  • In Japan, people dip chicken meatballs into raw egg yolk when eating. Would you try eating a raw egg? Go for it!

Meet Washocook

In 2014, Noriko Tominaga launched Washocook that introduces home-style Japanese cooking for foreigners. At the same time, UNESCO recognized Japanese cuisine as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. As the curiosity for Japanese cuisine increased, Washocook started offering cooking classes to visitors from all over the world. The concept of Washocook’s recipe is simple: a recipe that anyone can cook within 20 minutes per dish. When in Japan, check out classes from Washocook!

Spring Bento Box


Temari Zushi (Sushi Balls)

  • 2 slice Salmon, Sashimi-grade
  • 2 slice Tuna, Sashimi-grade
  • 2 piece Shrimp, deveined and cleaned
  • ½ tsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 tsp Sushi Vinegar

Sushi Rice

Spinach with Sesame Dressing (goma-ae)

  • ½ bunch Spinach
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 3 Tbsp Ground Sesame
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • ½ Tbsp Mirin
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce

Carrot Kinpira

  • 1 Carrot
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • Sesame Seeds, for garnishing


Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs

  • ¾ lb Ground Chicken
  • ½ Small Onion, chopped
  • 1 Egg
  • 5 Tbsp Breadcrumbs
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Teriyaki Seasoning


Temari Zushi (Sushi Balls)

  1. Place cooked rice in a small bowl and mix with 1 ½ tablespoon of sushi vinegar using a wooden spoon. Separate into 8 small portions and make small balls.
  2. In a small pot, boil shrimp with hot water. Once shrimp is cooked and pink, drain, and soak them in 2 teaspoon of sushi vinegar. Once cooled down, remove the tail and slice in half.
  3. In the meantime, beat 1 egg. In a small pan, cook a very thin egg crepe using a bit of cooking oil. Remove from the pan and slice into thin strips.
  4. On a plastic wrap, place 2 pieces of sliced shrimp, pink side down.
  5. Place one of the rice balls onto the shrimp slices, and hold it firmly using the plastic wrap to make sushi ball.
  6. Next, place two thin strips of egg on the plastic wrap making a cross shape. Place one rice ball and hold it firmly to make sushi ball.
  7. Place one slice of salmon on the plastic wrap. Repeat the same process to make sushi ball. Repeat the same for tuna.
  8. Place each kind of sushi ball into the bento box and garnish shrimp sushi ball with a bit of mayonnaise.

Spinach with Sesame Dressing (goma-ae)

  1. Boil water in a small pot with a pinch of salt. Put spinach and boil for 2-3minutes. Drain and squeeze to remove excessive water.
  2. Mix ground sesame, sugar, mirin and soy sauce in a small container. Mix with spinach.
  3. Place them next to the sushi balls inside of the bento box.

Carrot Kinpira

  1. Peel carrots and cut into very thin julienne.
  2. Pour sesame oil on a pan and cook the carrot for two minutes over medium heat.
  3. Add seasoning and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes until done.
  4. Place carrot kinpira inside of a bento box and sprinkle sesame seeds.

Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs

  1. Cook chopped onions in a pan and cool them down.
  2. Salt and pepper the ground chicken in a bowl and mix well.
  3. In the bowl, add breadcrumbs, egg, and chopped onions and mix well with chicken.
  4. Make 12 chicken balls and flatten them by pressing down with a palm of your hand.
  5. Heat frying pan and cook chicken balls with cooking oil. Cook both sides until lightly browned.
  6. Mix teriyaki seasoning in a small bowl and add it to the pan. Cook until the liquid is gone.
  7. Place one or two chicken balls into the bento box.