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Bento Diary

Broccoli, grape tomatoes galore, lima beans, carrots, and yummy crispy pork croquettes.

Again, I'm realizing that super originality is not only not practical, it's not even desirable. The little bits and bobs that fit in the cracks and make a balanced meal that stuffs the box tightly are not going to be wildly divergent from one day to the next.

I'm lucky if I can think up a new main dish--like today's croquettes--from time to time. Trying for wondrous variety just makes me waste food on silly mistakes.



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 18th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC)
Yup, real live Made In Japan bento box. I got it from an eBay vendor who ships from Japan via regular postal services. I'd give you a link, but I'm at work and eBay, among many other things, is blocked.

Just go to eBay and enter "bento box". There's a bonanza on there.
Jun. 18th, 2008 10:50 pm (UTC)
That looks great.

Do you just eat the broccoli raw or what?

Do you use a cookbook for these bento boxes?

Sorry to be so nosey. It's just so interesting.

Thanks to your inspiration, I'm continuing to declutter my den, btw. I just donated 17 bags and boxes of books to Oxfam. I'm finding it hard to stop. :) My place actually looks worse now than when I started but I guess that's part of the process. I took some snaps before I got started, so I will (eventually) be able to post with some photos showing the improvement -- if any! :)
Jun. 19th, 2008 03:44 am (UTC)
Wow, yes sir yes sir 17 bags full! I know that intermediate place where it's still chaotic, and yet kind of empty-seeming. It's a good sign, though! You're in it!

And I can talk about bento all day. Heh. You may be sorry you asked!

No recipes in particular, though not surprisingly, Japanese-type foods are a great place to start--sushi, rice balls, etc.

. The broccoli--most of my "in the lid" veggies--are lightly steamed, then thoroughly cooled before closing the box; condensation can be a problem if things going in aren't cool and pretty dry.

The main ideas to get started with are: a) Two-thirds starch and one-third protein in the main compartment, with veggies stuffed in the cracks. If you have a second tier: vegetables, fruit, denser salad type things, pickles, and like that.

b) the millilitre capacity of the Japanese style box will equate to the calories in it if you stuff it pretty tightly in the ratios mentioned, with no zignificant fats or sugars (which I've found to be true).

c) Stuff the box tightly so things don't shift around in there.

It's really kind of fun!
Jun. 19th, 2008 06:36 am (UTC)
That looks gorgeous. I read Lunch in a Box for a while, but had to give it up because I got so frustrated about having no occasion to pack myself a bento box :)
Jun. 19th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
If you aren't away from home at lunchtime, there really is no reason for bento. I have to say that I eat a much healthier, lighter and prettier lunch on workdays than on home days. There's something very important about the box itself--the frame, the limiter, the small canvas--that just doesn't translate to the plate at the home table.
Jun. 20th, 2008 11:22 am (UTC)
That's interesting, about the importance of the box: I had already got the sense that it does a lot more than look pretty, and provide a degree of ritual.

And yes, I always eat at home, so I have no reason to bento. Some days I invest time and effort into making a pretty lunch (which yes, is likely to be lighter and healthier), but mostly I'm all about leftovers.
Jun. 19th, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
YUMMM! The crispy pork croquettes are wonderful looking. Did they taste as good as they look? I may need the recipe for those! Everything is so healthy, fresh and practical. Who needs a huge variety when it is this good!? I was wondering if some simple tortilla roll-ups would work too. For a change from Asian foods, you could slice them in little rounds, like small cinnamon rolls.

Imagine how pretty these are going to look when you start having fresh fruits to add in. I can see those blueberries gleaming in those little white papers now!
Jun. 19th, 2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
The croquettes were simple: just a quarter pound or so of chopped free-range natural pork shoulder from New Seasons, three or four slices of good bacon, a couple of sage leaves, some salt and pepper in the food processer. Make a fine grind and form into 20-gram patties. I shaped mine square for the bento box.

The labor-intensive part is dipping each one in egg, then in panko breadcrumbs, lining them up on cookie racks to dry for half an hour, then repeating the egg-and-breadcrumb bit once more. D

Put the cookie rack full of croquettes into a shallow baking pan (jelly roll or the like--you'll want a rim to catch drips) at about 300-325 for 30 minutes, turn 'em over and continue baking for another 30 minutes or so, until the crumbs are brown and crispy.

Any kind of rollup that can be sliced into rounds would work perfectly in the bento box and look nice. I like the tortilla idea. I'd say ham or turkey slices and cream cheese and gherkins, but damn, try finding any deli meat that isn't saturated with badness. Can't be done.
Jun. 22nd, 2008 09:02 am (UTC)
Your bento are simply stunning. We love bento and pretty much all Japanese food (except natto). We'll have a go at making those croquettes, they look very tasty. We've recently had a play with making the omelettes - we found a rectangular pan at Muji - and can now just about get them the right shape for sushi.
Jun. 22nd, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Glad you like. The croquettes are, of course, in no way Japanese. I think they're kind of Cuban or something! But whatever fits in the box, huh?

It took me about six or seven omelettes before I finally got the shaping right. I had my best luck with an egg mix containing not too much added liquid (I believe it's traditional to add quite a bit of dashi, but it gets awfully thin and hard to manipulate that way).

Also, I finally figured out that the layer of egg on the pan doesn't need to be paper-thin, and DOES need to be given time to cook quite a bit before rolling. Brownness on the pan side actually rolls up nicely and tastes good.

And my last discovery was that yes, rolling the finished omelette in the sushi mat and letting it partially cool inside there results in a lovely round, ridged roll that looks very professional!

Oh--and the rolling technique in the rectangular pan is equally wonderful with western-style omelettes containing a little milk and cheese and savory herbs.

Okay! End of bento rant. I do go on! Hope the Shootout filming has gone...um...swimmingly. :D
Jun. 24th, 2008 11:07 am (UTC)
Very nice. I get more and more interested in doing this myself with every picture...
Jun. 24th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)

Then I shall post, and post, and post, until I have a convert!
Jun. 25th, 2008 09:18 am (UTC)

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )



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