Savours of Languages – Japan

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When you are learning a language at the Modern Language School, you find out more and more about the country’s culture and traditions. A delicious way of discovering these is to sample the savours of the country and even have a go at cooking some specialities yourself. At the Modern Language School, we have been running some pleasurable cookery events of which the Italian evenings seem the most popular – there is an Italian cookery event planned for Friday the 7th of October – but just don’t wait for our special dates and try your hand at our selection of recipes from Japan, Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal and France.

Japanese-style bento boxsushi-1565874__340

It is impossible to think about Japanese cuisine without thinking about sushi. Although originally it was first created in China, sushi was introduced to Japan as early as the 8th century. The dish has since become synonymous with the country’s culture and is a staple part of many of the customs and ceremonies that take place in Japan. With this scrumptious recipe that’s easy to make, and fits easily into a packed lunch, this bento-box sushi will keep you energised throughout your day.


100g fresh edamame in the pods (or frozen soya beans)

A handful of a favourite fruit, such as fresh pineapple, blueberries or strawberries

100g sushi rice

1 tbsp rice vinegar

½ tbsp. golden caster sugar

1 sheet nori

1 smoked mackerel fillet, about 75g, flaked (for a great tasting vegetarian alternative replace with 75g of tofu sprinkled with tamari)

1 tsp light mayonnaiserice-bowl

2 spring onion

Pea sized blob of wasabi

¼ red pepper thinly sliced lengthways, about 6 slices

Prep: 25 mins

Cook: 20 mins


  1. Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the edamame for 3-4 mins (or 1-2 mins if using frozen soya beans) until tender. Drain, sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  2. Rinse the rice well in cold water until the water runs clear. Place the rice in a heavy-based pan with a tight-fitting lid and cover with 200ml water. Bring just to the boil, then put on the lid, turn the heat to its lowest point and cook for 15-20 mins, until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and leave with the lid on for another 10 mins.
  3. Spoon the cooked rice into a wide bowl and leave to cool a little. Stir together the rice vinegar, sugar and a small pinch of salt, until the sugar and salt dissolve. Mix this into the cooled rice. Place the nori sheet on a sushi rolling mat or sheet of cling film. With damp hands, spread the rice over two-thirds of the nori sheet.pepper
  4. Mix the smoked mackerel (or tofu), mayonnaise and spring onions, season well with black pepper. Spread a line of wasabi down the middle of the rice, if using, and layer on the red pepper pieces, then the fish/tofu mixture. Roll the sushi up, starting from the end covered with rice. Dampen the uncovered end to help it stick. Slice into about 6 x 3cm thick pieces.
  5. Place the sushi rolls into a bento box or lunchbox, add the edamame and fruit to the other compartments.

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