Back-to-school lunch ideas! Yummy Soboro, Miso Soup and Yakisoba!

Ok! We had a great summer and it is time to go back to school and start thinking about lunch ideas!

My kids love hot lunch, so I often cook yummy lunch in the morning and pack it in their thermos. Here I included three my go-to lunch recipes and trust me, as long as you prep the night before, you can whip these dishes up less than 15 minutes.

Soboro sprinkle

This is so simple to make. Usually we make this dish using chicken, but I prefer turkey as they are more lean. This meat sprinkle is called “Soboro”. Make Soboro night before and you can just pack this with warm cooked rice with green vegetable and scrambled egg if you like. This recipe makes enough for 4-6 servings, so try Soboro for a filling for a wrap with some lettuce and cheese.

What you need;

  • 500g of ground turkey
  • 4 tbsps of salt reduced soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of Maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp of grated ginger
  • scrambled egg (2 eggs)
  • some blanched spinach or other green vegetable
  • cooked rice

How to make turkey sprinkles;

  1. In a medium frying pan, add ground turkey, soy sauce, maple syrup and ginger and cook until the liquid is almost gone, but the meat is still moist. Stirring frequent is the key to make good soboro.


Hearty Miso Soup

Make dashi stock and cut vegetables the night before, or you can make miso soup the night before and just heat it up in the morning!

  •  4-5 cups dashi stock*
  • 1 carrot
  • ½ small onion
  • ½ package of Tofu (medium or soft) about 250 g
  • 2-3 tbsp. miso paste
  • chopped green onion

How to;

  1. Cut carrot into 3mm rounds and slice onion into thin pieces about 2mm thick. Cut tofu 1.25cm cubes.
  2. Place the dashi stock in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add carrots and onion and cook until tender about 10 minutes.
  3. Add Tofu and 2 tbsp of miso paste and serve.

In place of carrot and onion, Daikon radish, cabbage, potato, shiitake mushroom, enoki mushroom and other veggies you like can be used.

*How to make dashi stock

What you needs;

  • 4-5 cups water
  • 1 small piece of Konbu kelp (about 12 x 12cm)
  • a handful of dried katsuobushi bonito flakes
  1. Wipe Konbu with a damp cloth before placing Konbu into a pot of water to soak for 30 minutes at room temperature. Bring the pot to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer for 10 minutes. Add a handful (about 10 g) of dried Katsuobushi and simmer another 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat.
  2. Remove from heat and leave to cool just until you can handle it safely.
  3. Pour everything through the sieve into a glass jug or other container for storing the finished dashi, and discard the konbu and solids retained by the sieve. Don’t squeeze the contents too much when sieving. Dashi stock keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.


Yakisoba noodle

Cut all the vegetables and pork the night before and it takes just 10 minutes to make this yummy Yakisoba!

What you need;

One serving

  • 1 package of Yakisoba noodle (pre-cooked/pre-steamed)
  • 1 pce cabbage cut into bite size
  • 2″ carrot, cut into thin rectangles
  • 50g of thin sliced pork, cut into 1″
  • Yakisoba sauce
  • Beni shoga (red pickled ginger)
  • Aonori (dried green seaweed)
  • a bit of ketchup if you like sweeter taste
  • Salt and pepper

How to;

  • Place Yakisoba noodle in a colander and pour hot water over to lightly loosen the noodle.
  • Drain well and set aside.
  • Heat vegetable oil in medium fryingpan or wok on medium heat.
  • Stir-fry the pork until almost cooked.
  • Add carrots in the pan and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
  • Add cabbage in the pan and season with salt and pepper
  • Stir-fry for an another minute till everything is cooked.
  • Add the noodle and Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes stirring quickly.
  • Add yakisoba sauce, a bit of ketchup if using and stir well.
  • Serve with Aonori and Benishoga. Yum!


Japanese style Ma Po Tofu Donburi

Ma Po Tofu is originally from China and one of popular dishes in Japan. Japanese style Ma Po Tofu is less spicy and light.

I often make this dish at home. It is a perfect simple dish for weeknight supper with a couple of side dishes (Sunomono Salad, Gomaae etc)! Pack this in a thermos for your kids lunch and they will love it.

What you need; 4 servings

  • ½ lb. (about 225g) ground pork ( I sometime like to use ground turkey or chicken for healthier option)
  • 1 package of Medium Tofu (about 1 lb)
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2-3 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 thumb side fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tobanjan (Chile bean sauce/paste)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 tbsp medium miso paste
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp corn starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water chopped green onion for garnish
  • Cooked rice

How to;

  1. Place tofu in a cutting board, add some weight (plate with a can of beans works well), and let the tofu drain for about 30 minutes. Cut tofu into ½-inch cubes. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan on low-medium heat, add garlic and ginger. Stir fry for a few minutes. Add the tobanjan and stir frequently for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the ground pork and break up the chunks of meat until no longer pink.
  4. Add the water, miso paste and soy sauce into the pan, mix and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Add tofu cubes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Mix the cornstarch with the water and stir it into the pan.
  6. Stir gently, so as not to break the tofu cubes, until the sauce is thickened and glossy.
  7. Serve in bowls on top of Japanese rice. Sprinkle chopped green onion.


If you like hot, increase the amount of chili paste. You can create your own taste for using other kinds of miso. If you don’t have medium miso paste, just use one you have and adjust soy sauce amount for your taste.

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Mango Daifuku

This is one of the most loved snacks/dessert in Japan and usually strawberries are used instead of mango, but why not, I love Mango! and please use any fruits you like such as kiwi, banana, grapes etc.

What you need; Makes 12-13 daifuku

  • 150g Shiratama ko (glutinous rice powder)
  • 70g Granulated sugar
  • 250g Water
  • Cornstarch

Anko Filling;

  • 12-13 pieces of cut mango (about 2cm cube)
  • 300g Anko/Azuki beans paste

How to;

  1. Divide Anko to 12-13 and wrap a mango with about a spoonful of anko and rounds to make a ball. Make 12-13 balls and set a side.
  2. Mix shiratama ko and water in a microwave safe glass bowl and microwave for 2 minutes.
  3. Mix and microwave for another 2 minutes or so.
  4. Stir the mochi quickly. (mocha is really hot and sticky)
  5. Transfer the mochi to a large plate or a pan dusted with cornstarch.
  6. Coat the dough/mocha all over with corn starch.
  7. Dust hands with cornstarch and divide the mochi into 12-13 pieces by hands. Make a round flat mocha from a ball and put a piece of anko filling on a center of mochi and wrap the anko by stretching mochi.
  8. Rounds the mochi. Repeat the process to make more pieces.






Tofu & Fruit Smoothie

Don’t panic to see tofu in the ingredients! Trust me; this smoothie is soooo yummy! We’ve used Peach & Mango flavor for this recipe, but you can use any flavor of dessert tofu you like.

 What you need; 4 servings

  • 1(150g) dessert tofu, Peach & Mango Flavor
  • 5 frozen strawberries
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup (250ml) of milk or soy milk

How to;

  1. Wash and cut strawberries into halves or quarters.
  2. Peel bananas and break into 5-6 pieces.
  3. Add strawberries and bananas into the blender.
  4. Add tofu and milk into the blender, turn ON, and blend until smooth.
  5. Divide into 4 serving glasses and serve the smoothies immediately.


There are other flavors of dessert tofu such as Maple Caramel, Almond, Banana, or Coconut. Use any flavors you like. You can also use any other fruit, such as blueberries, raspberries, pineapple etc. Combinations are endless!


Mackerel Vinegar

This is a very light, healthy and easy dish for weekday supper or entertaining.

What you need; 4 servings

  • 2 whole fillets maclerel about 300g
  • salt
  • ¼ small onion about 30g
  • 2 carrot about 125g
  • ¼  green, yellow or red pepper about 125g
  • ½ cup (125ml) dashi stock
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

How to;

  1. Salt the fish fillets lightly and leave for 15 min.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the vegetables: Slice onion and soak into a bowl of water about 10-15 minutes. Juliann carrots and pepper and drain onion and set aside.
  3. In a small pot, add dashi stock, rice vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and sugar and heat until sugar dissolved.
  4. Pat dry the fish and slice diagnor about 2.5cm.
  5. Heat a large non-stick flying pan and add ½ tablespoon oil and add sliced fish. Cook till golden brown and cook through. Careful not to break the fish.
  6. Add fish to a shallow serving bowl or plate and add all the vegetable. Heat the dashi mixture till boiling hot and pour it over on fish and vegetable.
  7. Cool slightly and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight.


Try other fish such as salmon instead.

Use gluten free soy sauce for a gluten free version.


Chicken Tatsuta Age 2 ways

Tatsuta-age is a way of cooking and similar to Japanese popular dish, Karaage. After ingredients are marinated in seasonings, they are coated with katakuri-ko or corn starch and deep-fried.

I know deep frying seems like a lot of work but I use less oil about 1.5cm. Here I have two kinds of Remove the chicken and drain on paper towels. Tatsuta age. One is marinated in soy sauce marinade and other one is my original, just using salt & pepper and wrap the chicken with shiso leaves and enjoy them with Ponzu sauce. I used red shiso here from my garden, but green ones are delicious as red ones. Tatsuta age (soy marinade) 4-6 servings
  • 1 1/4 lb boneless chicken thighs, cut into about 1 inch pieces
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tsps sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Sake
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • katakuriko or corn starch for coating
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying
  1. Mix soy sauce, sugar, sake and grated garlic in a bowl.
  2. Marinate chicken in the sauce for at least an hour.
  3. Take out chicken from the sauce and dry lightly with paper towels.
  4. Lightly coat chicken with katakuriko or corn starch and deep-fry them until done.Remove the chicken and drain on paper towels.

Tatsuta age (salt&pepper) 4-6 servings

  • 1 1/4 lb boneless chicken thighs, cut into about 1 inch pieces
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbs sake
  • shiso leaves (green or red)
  • Ponzu
  1. Salt and pepper the chicken in a bowl and add sake and marinade for 15 minutes.
  2. Dry chicken lightly with paper towels.
  3. wrap each chicken with shiso.
  4. Lightly coat chicken with katakuriko or corn starch and deep-fry them until done.
  5. Remove the chicken and drain on paper towels.
  6. Serve with ponzu sauce.

Tatsuta Age  

Japanese Style Potato Salad

Japanese potato salad is a staple in lunch boxes and a great side dish for Tontatsu (deep fried pork) and Ebi-Fly(deep fried shrimp). We used more like semi-mushed potato.

What you need; 6-8 servings

  • 5-6 Potatoes about 650g
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1/4 English Cucumber or 2 Mini Cucumbers
  • Two pinches Salt
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • Salt
  • 5 tbsp. or more to taste Japanese Mayonnaise

How to;

  1.  Peel and cut potatoes into about 2.5cm cubes and put them into a medium pot. Add water to cover potatoes and boil.
  2. Meanwhile cut the English cucumber into 1/4 length wise and slice thinly (about 2mm). If you are using mini cucumbers, omit cutting in 1/4 and simply slice thinly.
  3.  Put the cucumber slices into a bowl, add two pinch of salt and coat evenly. Let stand about 20 minutes. Squeeze and discard excess liquid from the mixture of cucumber and set aside.
  4. Peel a carrot and dice it about 5mm cubes and add to potatoes just before potatoes are cooked and tender and cook 2-3 minutes. Drain potatoes, and carrots and return to pot for a minute more to evaporate all the water. Be careful not to burn the potatoes and carrots.
  5.  Add peeled hard boiled eggs into the pot and mash the potatoes, carrots and eggs together. Some leftover lumps are ok. Allow to cool a little, then add mayonnaise and salt to taste.


  1. If you are in hurry, simply use frozen vegetable mix (Corn, carrots and green beans) in place of carrots and cucumber. Add the frozen vegetables just before potatoes are done.
  2. Leftovers make a great sandwich filling with a slice of ham.
  3. Japanese Mayonnaise is slightly more vinegary than Western Mayonnaise. If you don’t have Japanese mayo, add a little bit of rice vinegar to the salad.