We really liked the Japanese style food we had over the Christmas break, and we’ve been experimenting a bit here and there since.
I still haven’t tried rolling sushi, but it’s half-term next week and I might clear the decks and give it a go.
Mostly what we have been doing is having a bowl of plain boiled rice, topped with small portions of a variety of protein and vegetables, some hot, some cold, wet, dry, soft, crunchy. It’s been surprisingly filling, you can mix and match a whole range of tastes and textures so that each mouthful is a little surprise.
The toppings so far have been:
- cold smoked fish – salmon, eel, trout, mackerel (Waitrose do one with honey and soy), and lumpfish roe
- cold veg – avocado, cucumber, mooli / daikon radish, alfalfa or radish sprouts, shredded carrot, shredded nori
- pickles – Chinese mustard pickles, seaweed, gherkins, sushi ginger
- hot meat – variations on marinated grilled or stewed chicken, casseroled pork belly, steamed Chinese sausages
- hot veg – stir-fried pak choi, steamed edamame beans, miso-stewed white baby aubergines
- omelettes – made with mirin and egg, rolled, sliced, and served hot or cold – also cold quail eggs
- also some sprinkle mix of chilli, sesame seeds, garlic and powdered orange peel, the odd dabs of wasabi
I have some crabsticks, smoked and marinated tofu, and kombu seaweed ready to try next. At a northern Chinese restaurant last week I had a starter of sliced cold pork belly, which had been plainly cooked in a clear broth and then dressed with chilli and garlic. I’ve been doing ours in mirin and soy with ginger and star anise, so it’s very dark and rich. This was a lighter and cleaner flavour, so I shall try that next time.
Also on the list for future experiments are:
- hot fish – stewed squid, grilled salmon, mussels, tuna
- more hot veg – green beans, aubergines with peanut sauce, something with candied sweet potato
- hard boiled eggs – soaked in tea, or soy
- lean red meat – venison liver, buffalo steak
And I want to try some of the mini-burger-type-things, meat and veggie, that are featured on the bento recipe sites.
Bento in a Big Way is beyond my energies at the minute. I could happily make a lunchbox along similar lines to the dinners, but the decorative stuff is so not happening. No colouring eggs, carving hot dogs, or making little stars out of carrots and cucumbers. I’m up for arranging a box so that it looks appetising, but I’m not making a diorama out of it.