There’s something so culinary-ingly satisfying about a bento.
The task: Fill this small 5 inch oval, two tiered container with an assortment of veggies, protein and rice.
Time: Least amount possible up to an hour. (Bonus points for making a large batch which can be frozen into smaller batches for future lunches.)
Health scale: Only one item can be deemed semi-unhealthy (ie: fried or pre-cooked)
Extra points for cuteness 😀
This week’s assemblage included:
- Chicken thighs (3 small pieces of karaage, reheated from frozen)
- Shard with baby portabella mushrooms (seasoned with garlic and soy sauce)
- Daikon with edamame (recipe below)
- Kimpira celery (seasoned with a dash of splenda, a bigger dash of shichimi, and some soy sauce)
Score 4/5 (minus one point for a sad attempt at cuteness – I have just about enough time to put them into little pots, but that’s about it. No pandas, no flowers, no nothing. 😦 )
My hubby is the kind of person that can eat the same thing every Sunday, but I’m a creature of variety. Even though he gets a bento once a week, it still bores me when I have to put together the same meal – especially if it’s supposed to be a “real” meal and not a typical lunch of yogurt and GoLean.
So, his bento is at the mercy of my own whims and this weekend I felt like daikon! I had bought a nice sized specimen at the local Asian market, and it was in the crisper waiting for a good use. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it (there were so many things that I could think of), but the cold snow and gray skies made me feel like having a warm pot on the stove filled with soft, seasoned bits of daikon and bright green edamame.
I was also a bit bored with the gobo version of Kimpira (which is simply stir fried julienne root veggies) so I made it with celery instead. Most root veggies work well as long as you soften them a bit before sautéing them in the pan. My celery was beginning to “spread its branches” so to speak, so I knew it would be a great way to help use it up and get a bit of variety at the same time.
A book that’s been inspiring for me is Naomi Kijima’s Bento Boxes.
In it, there are simple recipes for a wide range of meals, some of which my hubby wouldn’t care for, but it does give me inspiration. It isn’t filled with how to make your egg into a cute bird or your apple slices into rabbits, but it does contain many practical and filling recipes that I remember eating growing up.
Most recipes are tweakable, so I flip through, match ingredients somewhat, and prep for Sunday. It’s a relatively simple task and one that gets the cooking side of my brain sizzling. My only wish is that I’d get the timing right. 😕 Sometimes I’m done right when I need to get ready for work myself, and other times I’ve got time to spare to eat my own thrown together meal (that’s another bonus for making bento – I usually can eat the same sort of thing since I’ve already cooked most of the components!).
Daikon with Edamame
(Note: Adapted from the recipe in Kijima’s book. I just scaled it to my own tastes and amounts.)
- 1 Daikon radish, about 7 – 12 inches long, peeled
- ½ – 1 cup edamame (I buy the frozen variety so that I can just add it to the pot)
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1 tbsp mirin
- ½ packet of dashi (I use kombu dashi but you can use regular if you’re not a vegetarian)
- 1 ½ – 2 tbsp soy sauce (use your own judgement on how strong/salty you want it)
Chop daikon into about 1 – 1 ½ inch round disks. Cut disks into quarters and place segments into a pot of boiling water (about 2 cups of water – you want the daikon to be covered with water). Boil for about 10 minutes.
Add the seasonings to the pot and continue to boil for about 15 minutes.
Add the edamame and continue to boil until liquid is reduced to 1/3 and the daikon is soft.
If you’re adding this to a bento, serve without including the liquid or you might have a spillage issue.