24 June 2008

New Bento!

Three days a week, I work at a job that is very physically demanding, and so my lunches (as you've probably seen) are sure to have a good bit of protein and very filling carbs (because rice packs so very nicely). Two days a week, I go to school and sit at my computer/read books all day. Today is one of those days, so I thought it would be a good idea to lighten up the load a little bit and try out my new bento (that is about 100 mL smaller than the blue Urara dragonfly box I usually use). Check out the excellent Engrish on the box top. It makes me happy.



I don't generally count calories in my boxes, either (I pack bento to make sure I eat actual food, rather than to cut back on what I eat), but today's items were easily countable, so if you were wondering:

Miniature brown-sugar bagel with peanut butter and honey: 243
3 Cherry tomatoes: 10
Broccoli florets: 15
Cucumber and carrot star slices: 7
1/2 orange: 30
1/2 cup grapes: 50 (after I took the photo, I filled in the top of the box with grapes)
Total: 355

The orange, too, is extra delicious. It came from a local farmer's market (but the orange is definitely not local, this being the northeast), and maybe I could find good oranges in the grocery store, I just haven't yet. The Frog Pond (farmer's market) has totally spoiled me, and I've only been there once.

15 June 2008

Trips to Kim's Are Always Interesting

Saturday saw me sneaking in a very quick trip into Kim's Oriental Grocery (my favorite of the area Asian groceries--of which there are 3 that I have found), which resulted in my picking up a can of lychees in syrup, some bonito flakes, and the best dried mango I've found. I'll probably crack open the lychees a few days from now, since I have fresh fruit post-shopping now, and the mango is tasty, but not new. The bonito flakes, however...that's time for culinary adventure.

First let me explain my relationship to tuna. In terms of the everyday canned variety, I think only the smell of sauerkraut makes me gag more. I really can't get on the bus with anything fishy-smelling, and so I was really wary of anything even vaguely tuna-associated for a very long time. Then I encountered raw tuna in sushi, and in a strange combination of fascination and peer pressure, I discovered how very much I adored it. And I continue to wonder how anything like maguro ends up like Starkist. But that did make me wonder if maybe bonito flakes would be something I could like, because I tend to like dried meats (I'm a jerky fanatic) and I had hope, generally speaking, because the Japanese cooking endeavors I have been embarking upon have all been quite enjoyable. And the package wasn't too expensive, so I pounced on it.

Tonight, I decided to make some onigiri for tomorrow's lunch and fill them with bonito flakes moistened with shoyu. I made the filling first--which is just what it sounds like--so I could try it (no sense in filling them if I didn't like what was going in, eh?). Opening the package, I was distressed. Because it smelled distinctly fishy. But I tried some, and it was decidedly not fishy. In fact, it tasted not unlike that finely shredded beef jerky that was sold in a plastic can to look like chewing tobacco. And again--I loves me some beef jerky. So I was really pleased.

...after failing spectacularly at brown rice (and I hate that it takes more than an hour before the ruin is fully evident--at least when I screw up white rice, I know within half an hour), I made some regular sushi rice, and started forming up my onigiri.

I've got two filled onigiri waiting in the freezer for tomorrow, and hopefully those will work out. These will be my first frozen & filled onigiri--usually, if I'm going to put something in them, I do the whole process the day of. Hopefully this will work out nicely, though, because that would be a nice possibility to add to the rotation.

04 June 2008

Yaki Onigiri

I've got some mango teriyaki chicken (just diced chicken breast cooked up with some bottled teriyaki sauce, a splash of OJ, and some pepper, then I tossed in some cubed mango left over from last night's mango/bell pepper salsa adventure--it's awesome on pork chops, chicken, and salad), with a yaki onigiri. I used Biggie's tutorial, but the process is way easy: whack the onigiri in a dry pan, toast until starting to brown, brush with soy, re-toast on both sides (and I also did the three short sides, too, because the crisped bits look really yummy). Makes the kitchen smell awesome at 6:30 a.m. (Bento means breakfast is really interesting...I just kind of snack on the shrapnel left from cutting things into bento-sized bits.)

Top tier has more mango, grapes, strawberries, carrot sticks, and shelled edamame.

And then yesterday's bento, which was far less complicated, but I like decorating sandwiches:
Peanut butter and jelly with dried mango decos, grapes. Bottom tier is turkey pepperoni flowers around store-bought spanokopita (eventually, I will make my own), a carrot corral for my edamame, and strawberries that have been sprinkled with powdered ginger. In the lid, Lindt creme brulee chocolate, which rocks a lot.

Thursday or Friday morning I'm going to give avocado maki a try. I've never had avocado in sushi, but it's a pleasing flavor, and it's hard to not love anything rolled up like that. (Presentation junkie what?)

And now off to work! I will clean up in rainforest aviary and hope my yaki onigiri is a success (and not, like my smart-assed husband said this morning, "Yucky onigiri." He has yet to embrace the awesomeness of nori).