Contents of Bug’s lunch: Dolmas (seasoned rice wrapped in grape leaves), baked salmon with pesto sauce, plum tomatoes, tabbouleh (bulgur wheat salad with parsley, cucumbers and tomatoes), a bunch of tiny Champagne grapes, and Hami melon. The Hami melon is a kind of Chinese muskmelon with crisp, sweet flesh. Bug decided he didn’t like tabbouleh after all, so more for mommy!
Morning prep time: 6 minutes, using leftovers and pre-made deli food. I packed the leftover salmon and pesto sauce when cleaning up from dinner the night before, the tabbouleh was ready-made from Costco (pretty good!), and the dolmas were pantry staples from a can. So other than plating the lunch, the only prep needed this morning was cutting up a slice of the melon.
Packing: I broke up the baked salmon for easy preschooler eating, and put the tabbouleh in a a coated food cup to keep it away from the fruit. Packed in a cheap 3-tier 495ml bento box from Daiso.
Cooking: The baked salmon is a dead-easy dish to make on a weeknight that allows you to quickly prep it and walk away. An hour in a moist, low oven yields moist, tender salmon every time — perfect for leftovers that can be transformed into composed salads, etc. I first came across this technique in Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse CafÃ© Cookbook. Essentially you take a big boneless fillet of salmon, put it on a lined baking sheet, rub it with olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and salt (coarser gourmet salts like fleur de sel really shine here). Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (93 deg. C) — very low!! Place a pan of warm water on a low rack in the oven to create a moist cooking environment, and put the salmon on the middle rack. Let it bake for an hour, then remove from the oven and let it stand for at least 10 minutes (up to 3 hours) to cool. Spectacular results every time and excellent at room temperature, so whenever I go to Costco I try to pick up a side of salmon for this dish. An entire side is way too much for one meal for our family, so I look at it as planned leftovers (but you can make it with less salmon).
Contents of my lunch: Same as Bug’s, but with yuzu miso sauce in the little container and baba ghanouj (roasted eggplant dip). Not shown: Wheat crackers in a separate Lock & Lock container for the baba ghanouj.
Morning prep time: 6 minutes. Although I’ll often make homemade baba ghanouj if we’re grilling and have some spare eggplant, this particular baba ghanouj is from a can — a fast, no-fuss way to round out a meal. The yuzu miso sauce was leftover from the previous night’s dinner, so I pre-packed the salmon and sauce the night before when cleaning up.
Packing: The baba ghanouj was thick enough that I was able to put it in a little food cup without a lid. If it were runnier, though, I’d be sure to pack it in a smaller sub-container with a lid to ensure that it didn’t spill during transit. I packed the crackers in a separate container (not shown) to ensure that they didn’t get soggy from being packed in with moist food (yuck!). Main lunch packed in a 500ml Leaflet box.
Cooking: I adapted a recipe for white miso barbeque sauce from Steve Raichlen’s excellent cookbook The Barbecue! Bible. Instead of regular white miso, I used some yuzu-flavored white miso that I picked up from a Japanese market the other week. Yuzu miso is an interestingly nuanced twist on white miso, with the perfumey essence of yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit, info here). There’s a recipe for homemade yuzu miso here; you can use it anywhere you use regular white miso (soups, sauces, glazes, salad dressings), and even eat it plain with something like sliced cucumber.
Yuzu Miso Glaze
- 1/4 cup yuzu miso (if unavailable, use white miso or make your own yuzu miso)
- 1 Tb mirin (if unavailable, substitute an equal amount of sake and 1 tsp sugar)
- 1.5 tsp mayonnaise
- 1.5 tsp dashi (bonito stock) (if unavailable, substitute water, chicken stock or vegetable stock)
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, stir well. Microwave on medium power until bubbly, remove and stir. Microwave again on medium power until bubbly, remove and stir. Let cool, then use as a dipping sauce for vegetables or cooked tofu, or a glaze for roasted fish.
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