Seaweed Salad and Octopus; Salmon Stew; Dashi; Oxtail Inari with Pickled Lotus Root (December 10, 2017)

The weather is getting colder and I’m settling into the new job.  Having had a wonderful dinner at Bone Kettle with a well braised oxtail and deep broth, I thought to incorporate both oxtail and warming broths into my lunches this week.  Oxtail stewed overnight and picked apart filled tofu skins paired with turmeric pickled lotus root.  A dashi with oyster mushroom and chopped choy sum balances the beef dish.  The starter is the staple that is the seaweed salad alongside marinated octopus.  Lastly, the broth from the braised oxtail served as the base for the salmon belly stew with shirataki noodles.

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Seaweed Salad; Wild Rice; Salmon in Spicy Dashi; Pork Belly and Kale (December 3, 2017)

After a few weeks of no bentos, I’m back.  Between the holiday, moving to a new place, and ending my old job, there was no time for cooking.  I actually bought bentos from my local Japanese grocery (Nijiya Market).  I start the new job this coming week.  What came to mind were foods that are familiar, grounding, and comforting as a balance to the newness of the coming week.  Moreover, they nicely contrast with the cooling weather (at least here in Southern California).  Seaweed salad is always a good start.  I had some wild rice and stir fried them with mushrooms, kimchi, and bamboo shoot.  Since I had extra bamboo shoots, I sliced them into a dashi made spicy with a small amount of red curry paste.  The heaviest part of the meal is the pork belly that was slow cooked and then finished with kale and mushrooms.

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Pickled Gailan and Turnip; Smoked Salmon and Chutoro Sushi; Mapo Tofu and Spaghetti Squash; Curry with Pork Belly (November 5, 2017)

I’ve been wanting to bring in spaghetti squash into my lunch and thought to make it the base of a mapo tofu.  The Japanese grocery happened to have both chutoro (medium fatty tuna) and smoked salmon for sashimi which were good ways to use up the last of the rice.  In further tests to pickle […]

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Shad Nigiri with Forbidden Rice; Cucumber “Roll”; Shrimp Dashi; and Stuffed Pork in Mapo Sauce

So this week started with the idea of a different way of preparing my vegetables, which led to the cucumber rolls, which are lightly pickled.  Filled with a variety of vegetables, the roll packs a nice crunch with the creaminess of avocado, bite of the scallions, peppery astringency of the radish sprout, and fresh crunch of the pea sprouts.  This would be the lightest dish.  The heavier balance was the eggplant and mushroom stuffed pork in mapo sauce.  Rounding out the two are shad nigiri sushi using forbidden rice and a shrimp dashi with a deep shrimp flavor.

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Seaweed Salad; Assorted Appetizers; Salmon in Lemongrass Dashi; and Beef Dumpling (October 22, 2017)

I decided to continue experimenting with thinly sliced beef as the wrapper for a “dumpling” using cabbage, oyster mushrooms, green onions, and beet as the filling.  With the remaining beet, I used a few chunks to color the pickled lotus root as part of a mix of appetizers that included shiitake mushrooms boiled in soy and marinated small octopus.  A seaweed salad with ikura starts the lunch.  Finally, a dashi redolent of lemongrass with salmon rounds out this week’s lunch.

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Pork Stuffed with Shrimp and Kabocha; Pork Sausage; Daikon “Noodles” and Shrimp and Chives; and Salmon Belly

This week’s lunch idea started with the thought of wrapping a filling with sliced pork like a dumpling; just with meat.  I mashed roasted kabocha, mixed it with shrimp and chives, and used that to fill a thin pork slice that’s intended for shabu shabu.  Chives run through the rest of dishes.  Pasta or most kinds of flour based noodles make me too full so I thought to use daikon instead as the “noodle” dish.  I do like salmon and will regularly use salmon belly trimmings from the market since no one wants them for some reason (cheaper than the other salmon cuts).  I had some pork sausage to round out the rest of the meal.

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Rolled Beef and Scallions; Seaweed Salad; Beets and Kabocha; and Inari with Sausage (Oct 1, 2017)

And back to weekly lunches.  I was away enjoying Singapore for a while with all the wonderful food.  Now back to work and bento lunches.  One of the last dishes I shared in Singapore was scallions wrapped in a teriyaki sauced beef.  It was memorable because of the presentation and flavors so I decided to make a version of it for lunch.  Rounding out lunch is a simple seaweed salad, roasted beets and kabocha, and inari filled with carrots, mushrooms, and sausage.

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