Sunday, March 23, 2008
Because I make bentos practically everyday, I've come to rely on a few stand-by recipes for when there aren't any leftovers to remake. Two of my favourites are ginger chicken and corn on rice, and miso stir-fried noodles.
I follow Elizabeth Andoh's recipe for Gingery Ground Chicken, from Washoku. The recipe calls for simmering ground chicken (or in the picture to the left; pork) with chopped fresh ginger, soy, sake, and mirin. It's then used to top rice, along with another colour component, like corn or dry-scrambled eggs. It's incredibly delicious and easy to make, but a bit hard to eat if you're not really proficient with chopsticks. In Washoku, Andoh writes that this dish is used to help Japanese schoolchildren increase their dexterity with chopsticks - learn or go hungry. Hmmm. Enough said, I think. In this box, I've also included mini pajeon, (Korean green onion pancakes), and broccolini gomae style. Gomae is a delicious dressing for vegetables made from ground sesame seeds - here I used black sesame seeds, because they're what I had on hand, but I think white sesame seeds are more traditional. The carrots are cut into sakura shapes because I didn't have time to cook them, and if you're going to have to eat raw carrots, isn't it better if they look like something interesting?
The second stand-by is something I came up with on the fly one day - Miso noodles. Since some people, who will remain unnamed, don't like rice every day in their lunch, I'm always trying to work non-rice dependent recipes into our lunch boxes. Here, I've taken some fresh udon noodles and stir-fried them with some vegetable strips, ginger, garlic, miso, and mirin. (I'm sure there's a real recipe for a more sophisticated version out there somewhere, but I usually wing-it when I'm in emergency lunch preparing mode.) Throw some salt salmon, steamed spinach, and takuan pickles on top, and you've got a great, reasonably healthy lunch quickly. It's also great as a one-dish meal if you add some chicken or pork strips.
They beat peanut butter and jam sandwiches, at least.