Sukiyaki lunches & preventing fruit from browning
To prevent fruit from browning, Cookwise (Shirley O. Corriher’s respected book on food science) suggests putting the cut fruit into water with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which slows the enzymes that cause browning. Options include lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, cream of tartar, or even a crushed vitamin C tablet dissolved in water. Chili pepper is also high in vitamin C, so dipping fruit in water with ground-up chili pepper will also prevent browning. I like the flavor that orange juice adds to fruit, but often use bottled lemon juice with a little Splenda or sugar for the same effect without the pucker.
Contents: Rice and sukiyaki from dinner the night before. The sukiyaki includes thinly sliced beef, tofu, onions, Napa cabbage, green onions, chrysanthemum leaves, and Malony-brand saifun noodles (made of potato starch and corn starch, they don’t fall apart even when in broth for a long time — glutenfree). Shirataki noodles (from tofu or yam) are the traditional low-calorie, low-carb noodle choice for this dish, but I was out. Kuzukiri noodles (made from arrowroot) are also a good choice.
Morning prep time: 4 minutes, by packing dinner leftovers the night before when cleaning up. In the morning I just microwaved the top container with the sukiyaki, and put in fresh rice from the rice cooker. I could have pre-packed the rice the night before and refrigerated it (nuking it in the morning), but I chose to keep the rice cooker on overnight instead.
Packing: I packed these in a cheap knockoff thermal lunch jar that’s about the same size as the Zojirushi Ms. Bento. I packed the big rice container only about halfway full of rice, so that I was able to pour all of the sukiyaki on top of the rice when it was time to eat (creating a do-it-yourself fresh “gyudon” beef bowl without soggy rice — ta dah!). There’s no Yoshinoya beef bowl chain around here for my gyudon fix, so this’ll have to do.
Contents of Bug’s lunch: Sukiyaki, rice with furikake (nori flavored sprinkles), and slices of watermelon and Asian pear.
Morning prep time: 6 minutes, by preparing dinner leftovers the night before when cleaning up. Because the thermal food jar portion of the insulated bento set is not microwave-safe, after dinner I packed up Bug’s cut-up sukiyaki in a microwave-safe bowl and refrigerated it overnight. In the morning I was able to throw the bowl of sukiyaki right into the microwave, dish out some warm rice from the rice cooker, and slice some fruit.
Packing: I chopped up all of the sukiyaki into child-sized bits the night before, and tossed the sliced Asian pear in orange juice before packing to keep it from turning brown (additional methods to prevent fruit from browning are below). The sukiyaki went into the thermal jar portion of the insulated bento set to keep it warm; we added some rice to the sukiyaki when eating. You can get the same effect as the insulated bento set by using a small side container and a thermal food jar , commonly available from stores like Target or Walmart. (Note to SF Bay Area locals: The Ichiban Kan stores stock four kinds of insulated bento sets for $20 - $25, and Kamei has two Zojirushi-brand sets for $33. Store info at the SF local shopping guide.)
Lunch in a Box is nominated for Best Food Blog in the Bloggerâ€™s Choice Awards. If youâ€™d like to cast your vote for speedy lunch packing, click here (you can vote for multiple blogs in the same category).
- Need for speed: A mommy’s lunch manifesto
- How to pack a bento lunch and use “gap fillers”
- Choosing the right size bento box
- Packed lunch food safety
- Biggieâ€™s list of top speed tips, tutorials and equipment reviews