Friday, November 7, 2008

Leftover bento bento

My Kendo group worked the general election on Tuesday and we received bentos at the end of the night. I split one with my mom for dinner and used a tiny fraction (these were HUGE bentos) to pack for my lunch bento.
The rice, chicken, and hot dog were all from the monster bento and the carrot kinpira and sauteed spinach I made earlier in the day.

Tuna Salad Pita

You can't see it, but the pita is stuffed with shredded romaine lettuce. There's also a small cup of olive/pepper/pesto salad, grapes, and tuna salad topped with pickles.
Tuna salad is a very individual thing in my house. I like it with lots of mustard and onions, and my mom likes it with pickles. I usually don't like pickles with tuna salad but added them to make it look prettier.
The olive salad is very easy to make. Just slice olives and bell peppers, add a can of drained cannelini beans and a smidge of tomato or pesto sauce. Sometimes I add boiled new potatoes to make it a little more hardy.

Yum, beets!

This bento was made right after my first trip to Whole Paycheck (or as it's officially known, Whole Foods). The organic beets from California looked really good so I got a bunch (leaves and stems were boiled, sauteed with bacon, and drizzled with apple cider vinegar). I mixed the beets with baby spinach and added half a pork chop to the bento.
The pork chop was brined using the brine mix from Williams Sonoma. It's really good and a lot simpler to scoop from a jar than to go out and get fresh rosemary, thyme, lemons, and oranges (what goes into my usual brine recipe). I've brined two pounds of porkers and still have half a jar left.

First Bento

This is the first bento I made. It was for a contest at the Maui Matsuri a couple of years ago. The theme of the contest was basically make a bento and use rice.
The bento has fried kamaboko/carrot/gobo fritters in the left corner, rice, seaweed, tsukemono, and daikon cut to represent hanabi (fireworks) in the center, and uzaku (eel salad). The little paper cup has strawberry and tangerine.
One thing I didn't know about the contest was that it was only judged on visual appeal of the bento. So I lost to a carved turnip bird with a boiled egg belly, and second place went to a musubi girl. I did get third place and a $25 gift certificate. But I was disappointed because I had spent a lot of money on the ingredients thinking that the taste would factor into the judging.
What I was trying to do with the bento was give a feeling of summer with the hanabi decorations and the uzaku salad. The salad recipe was worth making again and I'll definitely make it when I get my hands on good unagi again.

Uzaku (recipe found on

2 Japanese cucumbers
1/4 lb. Unagi
3 Tbs. Rice vinegar
1 Tbs. Sugar
1 Tbs. Shoyu

The original recipe called for salting and patting the cucumbers dry but I skipped this step. Most unagi comes with a sweet sauce. Top the unagi with the accompanying sauce and broil a few minutes. Peel the cucumbers and slice, flake/cut the unagi into bite-sized pieces and mix together. Mix remaining ingredients to form dressing. Dress the salad.

This salad kept pretty well and still looked/tasted good after sitting out in the humid Hawaii weather.

Bento for 11/7/08

I'm eating this bento now and it's quite filling. According to my Weight Watchers scale, this bento clocks in at a whopping 4 points. And that's all from the salmon. I put the bento together in 3 minutes using carrot kinpira (recipe on, preserved vegetables (daikon and ogo), romaine lettuce leaves, and a frozen salmon patty topped with furikake.
The only change I made in the kinpira recipe was to omit the sesame seeds and add a sprinkle of curry seasoning.