Vegetarian Bento Box

Vegetarian Bento Box

months ago,
i made mention of a
new food hobby:
the bento box.
my goal for a simple 2018
continues.
with some planning,
prep,
and practice,
i’ve been able to whip
this up in 30 min.
i’ll take it.

fyi:
wood bento boxes

Vegetarian Bento Box

Bento Components:
enough for a week’s lunch, for 2 adults
baked tofu
soy roasted squash
maple-ginger carrot
pickled daikon
prepared rice, fruits and cheese, hard boiled egg

for the snack layer, i used silicone muffin containers to keep the fruit and cheese separated. it ended up working out, dw is not a fan of papaya but the 3-4 pieces i added was enough without annoying him.

for the lunch layer, i sectioned off the box with a bit of rice, about 1/4 cup. then i layered the top with a few sticks of carrots, and sliced hard boiled eggs. next to it, i added the squash, tofu and slices of pickled daikon. under all that was either parchment paper cut to fit or spinach leaves, just to keep the food from leaching onto the wood.

baked tofu:
extra firm tofu, squeezed of excess water
2 TBL tamari
1 TBL sambal oelek or sriracha
drizzle of maple syrup
1 TBL sesame oil
cornstarch – approx 1/3 cup
sesame seeds – 2 TBL
black sesame seeds 2 TBL
bread crumbs – 1/2 cup
1 egg

wrap tofu block in a clean kitchen towel, pressed down with something heavy, i usually put a large can on top & ignore

large square bowl or casserole dish, add the tamari, sambal oelek or sriracha, maple syrup and sesame oil. mix through.

cut the tofu block into equal size cubes, aim for roughly the same size so that they bake evenly together. add the tofu to the dish and gently mix them in the sauce, every so often turning them so that all sides are evenly marinated. set aside while you set up the mise en place.

pre heat oven to 400F.

in three shallow dishes, add cornstarch in one, egg in another (mixed through so that the white and yolk are well incorporated) and breadcrumb + both kids of sesame seeds in the last bowl.

at the end of the assembly line, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

methodically, a tofu cube and roll around in the corn starch, shaking off any access. next, add it to the egg wash, ensuring all sides gets wet. last, dredge in the breadcrumb mix, pressing down hard to ensure it gets all sorts of crusty. line on prepared baking sheet.

now do this for the rest of the tofu. not gonna lie, this step sucks, it’s messy but it’s work it.

roast in oven for 30 minutes, at the mid-way mark flip the tofu cubes over.

cool completely, store in airtight container.

pickled daikon:
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
healthy pinch of salt
1 cup thinly sliced daikon
1/2 tsp tumeric, for color

in a small saucepan, gently simmer the rice vinegar, sugar and salt until dissolved. turn off heat. meanwhile, slice the daikon as thin as you can. in a clean jar, add the slices in and then gently pour the vinegar in, last adding the tumeric. gently swirl the jar till the tumeric is fully mixed in. allow to cool before lidding, will keep in fridge as long as you use clean utensils for a while.

soy roasted squash:
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 TBL tamari
1 TBL honey
1 TBL sriracha
1 TBL sesame oil

mix all the ingredients together and roast in 400F oven for about 30-40 minutes, until squash is tender. allow to cool.

maple ginger carrots:
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
1 TBL maple syrup
1 TBL minced ginger

mix all the ingredients together and roast in 400F oven for about 20-25 min, until just tender. allow to cool.

BAM!

Vegetarian Bento Box

4 years ago: red pepper & baked egg galette
3 years ago: lentil tacos – vegan
2 years ago: chili + fennel seed pork pies
1 year ago: spinach salad + baked falafel balls

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japanese style beef stew – Wahu Beaf Sichu

Japanese Beef Stew

a common theme around these parts lately
is simplicity.
2017 was an overwhelming year,
and a coping strategy i’ve taken to
is simplifying our meals –
it’s one less item on the
To-Do List,
of which i have many tasks.
even as a staunch non-resolution making person,
i do have a few loose goals,
that when strung together will hopefully lead
to more thoughtful,
less-stressed living.

here’s to Simplification in 2018!

Japanese Beef Stew

japanese style beef stew – Wahu Beaf Sichu
adapted from NHK: Dining with the Chef
video episode found here

*note: most friday night you’ll find us on the couch watching NHK and right around 9:10EST is Dining with the Chef. i am obsessed with this show, specifically when they feature chef Rika. (she has a fantastic credenza/buffet in her home that is so beautiful.) what was previously a strong aversion to japanese food, now has bloomed into an appreciation for their simplistic cooking, using seasonal ingredients with minimal fanfare, which leads to delicious but easy meals. a pressure cooker is featured in this recipe, but since we don’t have that toy, yet, i adapted it to use a slow cooker instead.

2 lbs beef chuck, cut into just larger than bite-size pieces
1 medium onion, rough chopped
2 carrots, cleaned, skin on, rough chopped
2 celery stalks, cleaned, rough chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1 can tomatoes – 14.5 oz
3 very generous TBL tomato paste

seasonings:
healthy splash of olive oil (optional)
1 cup sake
2 tsp miso
1/2 TBL salt
1 TBL sugar
1 TBL honey

in the crock pot, layer meat on the bottom.

in a food processor, add the onion, carrots, celery stalks, garlic, tomato paste and tomatoes. process until reached desired chunkiness.

in a bowl, mix the seasonings.

pour both sauces into the crock pot, over the meat. cover and turn on low.

ignore for about 4-5 hours.

serve with rice.

BAM!

Japanese Beef Stew

4 years ago: coffee chocolate chip ice cream
3 years ago: carne rustida de navidad
2 years ago: spiced mexican wedding cookies
1 year ago: mohinga – burmese fish noodle soup

garbage plate

Garbage Plate + Asian Challah

i don’t remember thanksgiving growing up.
sure, we had school off,
but thanksgiving meals were …
non-existent?
i seem to recall a time when
we had black duck soup.
other than that,
it was just another meal.
this resulted in me as a grown up
with lukewarm aspirations for
turkey and all the fixings
(though, i will eat the shit outta some stuffing).
despite this,
most years we’ll mark the occasion
with something special.
this year,
dw re-created a regional favorite,
that region being Rochester, NY.

i won’t lie,
i only managed 1 1/2 sittings,
out of like 5 sittings,
but dw,
he was in a fog of nostalgia each time.
he planned this meal for weeks,
dissecting various recipes,
discussing with friends,
and all i did was take pictures.

it is a season of gratitude,
and i have much to be thankful for,
notably,
you all.

Garbage Plate + Asian Challah

Garbage Plate
as written up by dw, with proper punctuation and complete sentences.
this was served with healthy slices of molly’s scallion pancakes challah

Meat Sauce (I used this one. Very good taste and texture. Doubled the spices) – (Warning – Plays a MIDI song on load)

1 lb. ground beef
2 tablespoon minced onions, plus extra for garnish
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed thyme leaves
2 ½ cups water (I just used as much as needed, and added more when it cooked down.)

Method: (This is my method that I wrote)
Saute some finely diced onion in oil.
Before the onion takes color, add the ground beef breaking it up and stirring constantly until it is cooked to a fine consistency.
Add spices, stirring well. Perhaps double the amount of spice for extra flavor
Add water to the sauce so that it has a bit of a runniness. It should have enough that it will trickle through the other elements for added flavor.
Let it simmer as long as you want. Add water as needed.

Home Fries
Potatoes – Cubed
Oil
Salt/Pepper
Place cubed potatoes in a saucepan with enough water to cover
Bring to a boil and continue boiling for about 3-4 minutes.
Drain very well
In a large skillet, using a generous amount of oil, fry the potato cubes. Take care not to move them too much, but careful to keep them from sticking. Cook until beautiful.
Season generously with salt and pepper

Macaroni Salad
Elbow Macaroni
Mayonnaise
Carrot
Celery

Cook the elbows perhaps a bit too much for soft texture
Dice the carrot and celery to a fairly small size.
Add a bit of mustard if desired. Ties in the plate flavor and reduces the amount of mayo needed.

Meat (Choose one and use two per serving)
Sausage – Weisswurst is perfect to represent a white hot
Fried Egg – Runny yolk
Hamburger
Cheeseburger – Cheese should be white
Other
White Onion – Chopped coarsely
Mustard – Brown, and should be loose/runny

Final Method:

On a standard dinner plate, arrange one side with the mac salad, and the other with the home fries. Don’t be stingy.
Add the meat. If patties, use two. If a hot dog or sausage, split in half lengthwise (Sear the cut edge on a skillet or grill) and use two.
Add a generous swipe of mustard across the plate.
Add a generous scoop of diced raw onion
Top with a generous scoop of the meat sauce. It should be runny enough to wet the plate through the mac salad and home fries.

Enjoy!

Garbage Plate + Asian Challah

4 years ago: pumpkin challah chips
3 years ago: chocolate chip pb cookies, vegan & gluten free
2 years ago: chocolate espresso dacquoise, lactose free
1 year ago: kefir biscuits

bánh canh cua – Vietnamese Udon Noodle Soup

Banh Canh Cua

around this time of year,
while the majority of the country
is thinking/talking/consuming all things:
pumpkin, turkey, stuffing, cranberries, eggnog,
i’m craving random,
not as well-known vietnamese noodle bowls
that take a full day to make
and then even more dayyyyyyys to finish.

the season is in full swing,
and though we don’t partake in festivities often,
we still find ourselves succumbing
to the stray dinner and drink and party invites.
december:
you’re the last one,
so be the best one.

Banh Canh Cua

bánh canh cua – Vietnamese Udon Noodle Soup
this makes an ass-ton, like i don’t know how much in measurements, but we were eating this for a number of nights straight.

to me, this dish is more about the noodles than anything else. there’s a bouncy chewy texture to them, kinda sorta like udon noodles. there are plenty of different resources online that will have the full exact measurements of the seasoning, that is authentic, but this version worked for me and my hankering for some random not-often consumed viet noodle bowl was sated.

stock
3 lbs pork neck bones
1 onion
carrot & celery (optional, i added this because it felt weird to not have them in when making stock)
6 cups chicken stock (homemade or store bought)

in a big stock pot bring a pot of water + pork neck bones to a boil. drain the water and wash the bones and clean the pot. put bones back into the pot with the onion and fill with water. bring to a boil and lower heat. simmer slightly covered for a few hours. skim accordingly

after a few hours, remove the bones (discard them, or if you’re like my gpa, pick at the bones, dunking the morsels of meat in really good & spicy fish sauce)

add the chicken stock and stir to mix.

crab + shrimp balls
1 clove garlic
half onion
salt, pepper, sugar – to taste
1/2 lb cleaned/deveined shrimp
1/2 lb crab meat
splash fish sauce
1 – 2 tsp of annatto oil (to make: 1/3 cup of neutral oil warmed gently with 1 TBL of annatto seeds)
1-2 tsp crab paste in soy bean oil

in food processor add the shrimp and alllllll the ingredients, except the crab meat. pulse until the shrimp is roughly chopped. then add the crab meat and pulse for about 5-10 seconds, taking care to not mush up the crab meat, you’re aiming to bind all the ingredients together.

shape into ping pong sized balls. fridge or freeze until ready to use

garnish
green scallions, chopped
cilantro, finely chopped
chili pepper, thinly sliced
lime wedges
optional fish and shrimp and crab balls, already prepared, can be found in frozen aisle at asian markets

banh canh noodles
1 bag rice flour (16 oz)
5 TBL tapioca starch or flour
1 1/2 cups of super duper hot boiling water

mix rice flour and tapioca starch, set aside
in a kettle, boil water and pour it into the flour mixture until a dough is formed, it won’t be too wet or dry. the consistency reminded me of play-doh. wrap in plastic and ignore for 30 minutes

here is where you can shape/cook the noodles the way you want. you can put it through a potato ricer or roll out the dough into a disc and cut into 1/4 inch strips. we attempted both and will now just buy already-made udon noodles.

to assemble
best to make 2 servings at a time

in a medium sauce pan, portion out enough stock for 2 servings. bring to a boil, lower heat and season according to taste, with fish sauce and sugar

add in the homemade shrimp/crab balls and any other prepared balls you want. when the pot reaches a boil again, add in the noodles. unlike pasta, don’t stir. allow for the noodles to cook to al dente, it’ll swell, around 5 minutes, but do keep an eye out for it. the stock will thicken, it’ll go from brothy to stew-y. don’t be alarmed

portion into bowls. top with green scallions, cilantro and a healthy drizzle of annatto oil and spritz of lime juice

BAM!

4 years ago: cauliflower + pumpkin gnocchi
3 years ago: garlic panna cotta + curried root vegetable soup
2 years ago: vegan carrot cake
1 year ago: brownie cookies

spicy korean chicken stew

spicy korean chicken stew - dak-bokkeum-tang

for about 24 hours 2 weekends ago
the temps dipped,
and for that amount of time
i made two comfort dishes that usually make appearances
around january.
obviously, it was a season fake out,
and my kitchen inclination was also a fraud.

this stew is technically not authentic.
i tried it once at a korean restaurant
and it was much too spicy for my taste buds,
and unfortunately, for my stomach.
i tempered the spice by omitting the korean pepper flakes
and adding the ssamjang.
fraudulent dish or not,
it was still very good.

spicy korean chicken stew - dak-bokkeum-tang

spicy korean chicken stew – dak-bokkeum-tang
adapted from beyond kimchee
serves 4-6

*note: this is a stew, and if it weren’t for the fact that i was going to style to take pix, i would’ve thrown it all together and called it rustic. the veggie cutting can be rough & un-fancy.

package of chopped up chicken meat, i had a mix of bone in, skin on drumsticks and bone out/skin off thighs, about 3-4 lbs total
3-4 medium carrots
1 onion, chopped
3-4 medium potatoes, cleaned and chopped
2-3 cups kelp stock or chicken stock is fine

for the seasoning paste:
2 tablespoons Korean chili paste Gochujang, i used this
1 TBL Korean Seasoned Soybean Paste Ssamjang, i used this
4 TBL soy sauce
1 TBL oyster sauce
1 TBL maple syrup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp pureed ginger
2 TBL rice wine

for garnish:
2 green scallions, chopped

in a stew pot, make the seasoning paste. taste if you need more spice, etc. add the chicken pieces and mix to coat. set aside on stove.

in a medium sauce pan add a piece of kombu or kelp or seaweed to 2-3 cups of water. bring to a gentle boil. cover and simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes.

strain the kombu/kelp/seaweed out and pour the remaining liquid into stew pot with chicken. you’re aiming to barely cover the chicken, if needed add more water or you may not need all the stock.

turn heat to medium hot and simmer for about 10 minutes.

add in the onion and carrots, submerging the pieces and allow to simmer for additional 10 minutes.

last add in the potatoes and cook for about 15 – 20 minutes.

the sauce will thicken as it reduces. at this point, everything is cooked through and tender, how much sauce you want is up to you.

garnish with chopped green scallions, serve with steamed rice.

BAM!

spicy korean chicken stew - dak-bokkeum-tang

4 years ago: chicken masala
3 years ago: quinoa sushi rolls
2 years ago: vietnamese seafood noodle soup
1 year ago: crunchy quinoa salad with miso-tahini dressing