Fried shrimp lunches & mini cooling rack
Contents: Fried shrimp with tonkatsu sauce in a pig container, mixed brown rice with cilantro and sweet crispy ume plum (details below), tomatoes and cucumbers marinated in sanbaizu, steamed broccoli, whole apricot, strawberry and grapes.
Morning prep time: 15 minutes, using leftovers and store-bought frozen food. The marinated tomato/cucumbers and plain brown rice were leftover from dinner. So this morning I chopped some crispy ume (details below) and cilantro, and mixed it with the rice (still in the rice cooker) and sanbaizu. I deep-fried the shrimp (store-bought, already breaded and frozen) in a small pot, and cooked the broccoli in a microwave steamer for 40 seconds.
Packing: I used a pre-filled sauce container with tonkatsu sauce (labelled on the wing!), and put a long piece of sushi grass on top of the mixed rice to keep the crispy shrimp from getting soggy. To keep the liquid from the tomatoes/cucumbers from leaking into the lunch, I drained them in a mini strainer and bowl before packing (and then dunked the steamed broccoli into the sanbaizu for a little flavor). The little grapes acted as gap fillers to stabilize the lunch for transport. I packed a separate spoon for the rice and chopsticks for the shrimp and veggies.
These are little snack packages of seedless, crispy ume plums, sold in my local Japanese market (Muraoka brand). The one on the left is sour, the one on the right is sweet. At about US$1.25 per pouch of six plum halves, these were pricey but tasty. Bug doesn’t care for the sour ones, so I used sweet ume in today’s mixed rice. Ume and shiso leaf (perilla) are a classic flavor combination in Japanese cuisine (and delicious in a sushi roll as a meal-closer). Inspired by a simple version of ume shiso mixed rice in bento cookbook Oishii Obento (ãŠã„ã—ã„ãŠå¼å½“), I improvised with what was on hand — ume and chopped cilantro (coriander leaves) with a little sanbaizu in brown rice. The original version called for konbucha powder (seaweed “tea”) instead of sanbaizu — need to put that on the shopping list.
Quick spotlight on some miniature frying equipment I picked up for US$1.50 (per piece) at Daiso (Japanese dollar store with branches internationally). It’s a tiny 6 x 8.5″ cooling rack (15 x 21.5 cm), draining rack and sheet pan for small amounts of cooking. There’s really no need for these if you have a larger version, but it is nice to save on counter space and cleanup when I’m cooking just a small amount.
For an idea of scale, these croquettes are from this lunch last month. Looking around the kitchen, I realized that my 2-piece stainless steel soap dish is a similar size and design, so a spare one of those could work as a mini cooling rack as well.
Contents of Bug’s lunch: Same as mine.
Morning prep time: 15 minutes, using leftovers and frozen food items.
Packing: Underneath the shrimp is a container of tonkatsu sauce and half of an apricot (to prop the shrimp up). There’s also a small plastic food divider between the shrimp and the quarter apricot on top to keep the crispy shrimp breading from getting soggy. I threw in a tiny Anpanman pick for little hands to eat the cucumber, and packed a spoon separately for the mixed rice. Bug ate the shrimp, apricot and broccoli with his hands (and asked for more shrimp — big hit).
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- Biggieâ€™s list of top speed tips, tutorials and equipment reviews