It’s hard to believe it’s almost the end of May, and summer break starts in a few weeks for my older daughter. What does this mean?
I might just have to reinvest my efforts into packing my own bento – so I get three months of practicing on myself!
The pro’s to this concept? I would be able to experiment new bento ideas – such as mastering and conquering packing noodles for lunch. I can imagine what I need to do for non-soup based cold noodles, such as zaru soba (zaru is a traditional bamboo “flat” colander) which I could bring for lunch – essentially, boiled, cold noodles served with a dipping sauce of men-tsuyu or dashi that has been seasoned well with soy sauce and mirin, garnished with chopped scallions, grated ginger, slivers of nori, thin slices of shiso and perhaps sesame seeds. Wasabi can be added – just a tiny bit – for a bite as well. The noodles are dipped into the men-tsuyu and enjoyed (read: slurped). THIS is a classic summer lunch from my childhood, and if I decide to bring everything to work for lunch – I’d happily be slurping away in my office at lunch behind closed doors.
Slurping and noodles will be another topic we can explore at a later date!
The cons of the bento idea?
Probably the fact that I may cheat because I know it’s lunch for myself, and if a co-worker asks me to go out to lunch on a gorgeous summer day to the restaurant overlooking the marina… I may have to take up on that delicious-Cobb-Salad-by-the-boats-lunch.
Bah. I have time to mull my options!
Today’s lunch included:
Roasted chicken wingettes, which were simmered and coated in a teriyaki sauce – the other half to yesterday’s drumettes. Accompanied by renkon, and blanched broccoli florets, sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Onigiri with a okaka filling. If you recall, my earlier attempts at making onigiri were thwarted by two main things. The multi-grain rice that refused mold into a cohesive ball, and my filling had too much soy-sauce. My earlier attempts had me trying to make a rice ball with grains that scattered across the counter – almost as though to mock my pitiful attempt at getting them pressed into shape – and the ultimate tipping point was when I added my okaka (katsuobushi mixed with a little soy sauce), it contained too much liquid, and when I tried to mold the unruly grains around my filling, it decided to break out of the other side of my pathetic onigiri. This time, I used the brown rice/Kagayaki haigagenmai mix (1:1) and I reduced the amount of soy sauce mixed into a tablespoon of the katsuobushi. I added the soy sauce a drop at a time while stirring gently with chopsticks until the katsuobushi flakes came together in a ball. Fast stirring = a cloud of katsuobushi that made me sneeze, while our feline family members came stomping down the hall, into the kitchen, and weaving between my legs.
I formed the onigiri by taking a handful of rice, and using very wet hands (lightly sprinkled with salt), I molded the rice into a cylinder. I poked a hole in the middle, and added a 1/2 teaspoon of okaka and molded the rice over the hole. I then continued forming the onigiri, and wrapped it with a piece of nori. I sprinkled the ends with sesame seeds for crunch, and wrapped it in wax paper – so the sauce from the chicken wingettes/renkon doesn’t run into the onigiri and undo my masterful molding
Roasted beets in heart shapes
On a separate note, my father provided me the lyrics for the Bento Box songs, and I found out I remembered some of the lyrics incorrectly.
“Korekkurai no Obento Bako ni onigiri onigiri choito tsumete / kizami shouga ni gomashio kakete / ninjin san / sakuranbo san / shiitake san / go bou san / ana no aita renkon san / suji no totta fuuuki”
I incorrectly remembered the part about sprinkling sesame seeds… the official version sprinkles gomashio, or sesame salt. Also, I was missing sakurambo san, or cherries. Thank goodness, because I know this song is also a counting song, and I was not convinced “san” was going to be “sansho” or Sichuan Pepper.