Archive for June, 2007
Contents of Bug’s lunch: Tarako spaghetti with onions and aonori (cooking notes below), Latin American ham croquette and chipotle cream dipping sauce, cheese triangle, steamed zucchini (courgette) with ponzu, and a strawberry.
Morning prep time: 10 minutes. The spaghetti was leftover from the previous night’s dinner, so I packed that up directly into the lunch container after dinner. I cooked two things in the morning: teamed the zucchini quickly in my microwave steamer (then tossed with my favorite ponzu sauce), and fried the frozen Goya-brand croquettes in a tiny pot. In Japan many bento-packers have tiny little pot for boiling or frying small amounts of food. The pot on the left (US$1.50 at Daiso) is only about 4 inches in diameter, so it was a good size to deep fry just three croquettes without using much cooking oil. Any small pot would work as well — it saves on oil use and cleanup to work in miniature when frying.
Packing: I used an egg slicer to partially slice the strawberry for easy preschooler eating, packed the fried croquette in a lined food cup to absorb remaining oil, and drained the sauced zucchini on paper towels to reduce the possibility of leakage. The frozen fruit cocktail pack in my lunch kept the cream dipping sauce cool and safe inside an insulated lunch bag. Packed in the two middle tiers of a 4-tier nesting Thomas the Tank Engine box.
Cooking: Here’s a tarako spaghetti recipe with good notes. I start by sauteing an onion (and maybe some bell pepper), and garnish with kaiware daikon sprouts if I happen to have any on hand (aonori today, though). In Osaka I often had it with a little Kewpie mayo stirred into it as well. Other variations omit the cream in favor of sauteing in butter and tossing in mirin/tarako/mayo. However you make it, it’s bound to be good — just get the sauce loose enough to lightly coat the noodles.
Published by Biggie on June 29th, 2007 tagged bento, equipment, for kids, meat, pasta or noodles, recipe, rice | 19 Comments »
The animal-shaped ice cream sandwich molds that I jury-rigged into egg molds (and onigiri molds, cookie cutters, etc. — full info and tutorial here) are back in Williams Sonoma stores and are currently on sale for $10 (down from $14 — so no shipping charges if you have a store near you). This makes them cheaper than on Amazon! (UPDATE: The folks on the LJ bentolunch community point out that these are also available at Walmart for US$5 for two!! They have two sets: the cow and the pig, or a heart (with an “XO”) and a “squircle” — square-circle.)
2. Site update
I recently fixed the blog font that has been giving some readers problems, and disabled nested comments that blocked the content for some. At this point I’ll be sticking with regular-style comments (not threaded) to avoid similar compatibility issues, so if you’re responding to a particular comment you’ll want to call the poster out by name in your comment. Please feel free to let me know of any site issues you’re experiencing either in a comment or by e-mail to lunchinabox AT gmail DOT com. (EDIT: Thanks to reader sff_corgi for the snazzy new header!!)
3. San Francisco: Ichiban Kan has new character bento goods section!
Ichiban Kan (Japanese dollar store in San Francisco’s Japantown — info here) now has an all-new children’s bento goods section with a substantial selection of character goods, all between US$1 and $1.50. Characters include Hello Kitty, Shinkansen, Cinnamaroll, PokeMon, etc. Products include food cups, chopsticks/case, utensil sets (for only $1.50!), food dividers (baran), bamboo utensils, silicone-coated food cups, kinchaku lunch bags, lunch cloths (use as a napkin or to wrap bento lunches), etc. They also just got in a new shipment of the egg molds on the right (two for $1.50), so pick them up while they’re in stock! I led the Japanese moms from Japanese playgroup there yesterday and we had a shopping extravaganza for kid bento stuff…
4. San Francisco: Sanrio store at Stonestown Mall has character bento boxes
I realize I omitted the Sanrio Store at Stonestown Mall from the SF Bay Area Bento Shopping Guide. They have a pretty good selection of good-quality character bento boxes and accessories at normal prices ($10 range). Characters include Hello Kitty, Shinkansen, and Cinnamaroll; products include good-quality collapsible sandwich cases with movable inner divider for $8, child-sized (300-360ml) bento boxes (die-cut style with a bento band and the flap-type with silicone packing seal), utensils and utensil sets that include bamboo chopsticks. I’ll be updating the shopping guide shortly.
(Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Williams Sonoma, Ichiban Kan or Sanrio.)
- Use ice cream sandwich molds as onigiri or egg molds
- Need for speed: A mommy’s lunch manifesto
- Biggieâ€™s list of top speed tips, tutorials and equipment reviews
Published by Biggie on June 28th, 2007 tagged SF Bay Area local, equipment, shopping | 9 Comments »
Having lived in Osaka for years, I miss classic Kansai street food like takoyaki (octopus balls), but buying them frozen in a bag just isn’t the same. So last year I bit the bullet and bought a takoyaki griddle so I can have the real thing at home in San Francisco. Making takoyaki at home is something of a recent trend in Japan, and the last time I was there I saw gas and electric tabletop takoyaki griddles, instant mix for the batter, and the Japanese friend I stayed with made us all takoyaki for dinner one night. Her tips on technique (and notes from Japanese cookbook “Okonomiyaki Takoyaki Monjayaki“) gave me the courage to try it myself; I hope you’ll be similarly encouraged by this tutorial if you’ve got access to the ingredients. Thanks, Saito-san! (You can freeze these and pull them out one at a time to pack in a lunch like this.)
Published by Biggie on June 27th, 2007 tagged dumplings or buns, equipment, fish or seafood, lactose free, recipe, tutorial or how to | 93 Comments »
Contents: Cucumber, cherry tomatoes, homemade takoyaki (octopus balls) and sauce, dashimaki tamago (Japanese rolled egg with dashi stock), whole apricot, rice mixed with shiso furikake, and umeboshi.
Morning prep time: 5 minutes, using leftovers. This morning I cut sliced the cucumbers and tomatoes, microwaved leftover cold rice and mixed in some furikake. The takoyaki was leftover from the previous night’s dinner (recipe and full tutorial here), and the rolled egg was also leftover from the previous day (I’m putting together a tamagoyaki tutorial).
Packing: Because takoyaki is best sauced right before you eat it, I packed the takoyaki sauce in the little green sauce container, put the takoyaki in a silicone-coated oblong paper cup to contain the sauce when eating, and threw in a long pick to eat them with. All packed in my new 500ml Leaflet box from Irving Housewares in San Francisco.
Published by Biggie on June 26th, 2007 tagged bento, eggs, fish or seafood, for kids, lactose free, onigiri or sushi, rice | 12 Comments »
I catered a big Greek/Mediterranean meal for a friend’s engagement party yesterday, and packed a quick bento with the more easily packed leftovers when cleaning up.
Contents: Saganaki (pan-fried haloumi cheese) with lemon, bamyes yiahni (okra braised with tomato and parsley, cooking tip below), roasted lamb with mint/garlic (a variation on Alton Brown’s “Silence of the Leg O’ Lamb” recipe), kalamata olives and wheat bread. The little side dish container holds muhammara (roasted red pepper and walnut dip, recipe from Paula Wolfert’s award-winning book), and the larger Lock & Lock container holds a piece of galaktoboureko (semolina custard baked in phyllo dough, recipe below).
Morning prep time: 0 minutes, as I packed everything the night before when cleaning up from the party.
Packing: The original okra dish was quite juicy, so I drained it on paper towels before packing so that the juice wouldn’t leak onto the bread (reducing the moisture also helps with packed lunch food safety). I often wind up treating bento lunches roughly in transit, stuffing them sideways into my diaper bag, so the pepper/walnut dip worked best in a separate lidded container. For food safety reasons, I decided to avoid packing the leftover raw dairy dishes (tzatziki and labneh) as I wouldn’t be keeping the meal cold until eating. All packed in a new 500ml Leaflet box (in stock at Irving Housewares in San Francisco, with two larger sizes).