30-Day Dine at Home Challenge and Green Pepper

June is going to be an exciting month here at the Time for Dinner household. I’ve decided to put myself on a little challenge called “The joy of dining at home for the next 30 days.” I initially thought about calling it a “No dining out for 30 day” challenge but I didn’t like the negative connotation of it. I don’t like words “no” and “anti.” I heard somewhere once that Mother Teresa never participated in anything that was called “anti” something, like an anti-war rally; rather, she committed to something that brought positivity, like a pro-peace march. So, instead of feeling like I’m depriving myself, I’m going to cherish this as an opportunity to flex my cooking muscles!

I’m also doing a little bit of a social experiment to see if I can survive on a $100 / month food budget. I know it’s pretty extreme, especially for someone like me who can easily spend that much on one meal, but I want to see for myself how little I actually need to sustain a comfortable living! Oh, and lunch is included in the $100 budget so I need to plan strategically so I won’t end up going over … or worse, go hungry! 😯

For lunch today, I made a dish called “Piman no Nikuzume,” which translates to “meat-stuffed green pepper.” It was one of my favorite dishes my mother made growing up because I just love green peppers. They can be a little bitter when eaten raw but they become sweet and deliciously luscious with a bit of cooking. Every Japanese family has different recipe for this dish and this is ours (or more accurately, my interpretation of my mother’s recipe) .  Lucky for me, I had one green pepper sleeping in a fridge (from who knows when lol) as well as a leftover beef filling from my last homemade gyoza adventure so this meal pretty much cost nothing! YAY! So far, Hirono 1: Challenge 0.

Piman no Nikuzume, aka Meat-Stuffed Green Pepper
Serves one

1 large green pepper, quartered
¼ lbs. ground beef filling (recipe to follow)
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup water (or adjust based on the consistency of the flour-water mixture)
Olive oil

For the sauce:
Soy Sauce
Sriracha or chili oil


1. Quarter the green pepper.

2. Make the beef filling by mixing ground beef with finely chopped green onion, grated ginger and garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, and pepper. Let your imagination go to work about how much ginger, garlic, and green onion you want to put in, but don’t go overboard with sesame oil and soy sauce. A little bit goes a long way.  You can simply go with ground beef with salt and pepper, if you don’t want to be bothered with going the extra mile. It works just as well.

3. Put the beef filling in each pepper slice. Make sure to pack it tightly so it won’t fall apart when cooking.

4. Mix all-purpose flour and water in a bowl or a plate. The texture should be very close to a pancake mix.  Dip each meat-stuffed pepper into the mixture until both sides are well coated.

5. Heat a pan in medium heat and add enough olive oil for shallow frying. Drop the peppers in the pan. Cook for about 7 minutes until meat is cooked through. Turn over and cook the other side for about 5 minutes.

6. When cooked, let the peppers rest on paper towel to rid the access oil.

7. Cut each pepper in half, it it’s too big to eat.

8. For the sauce, I recommend the simple “sujyoyu,” a soy sauce and rice wine vinegar concoction that you often get when you order gyoza at ramen places. I like to add either a drop of hot chili oil or srriracha for some heat. Serve with a bowl of rice and miso soup and you can turn this into a satisfying dinner!