Friday, April 19, 2013

bento friday: using up leftovers

Our fridge, in general, is full.  Really full.  Do-complicated-three-dimensional-tetris-to-fit-anything-in-full.  So every once in a while we go on a crusade to use up leftovers and clean out all the tupperware in there.

This week I noticed that I had shiitake and some kind of other mushroom (they were from the local Asian grocery store and weren't labeled in English... but hey, they were tasty so who cares) languishing in there.

Enter bento, and voila!  I find that bento is a really easy way to use up whatever veg is starting to get sad in the fridge.  Stir-fry it, add some kind of protein and rice, and it's food.  Once I got a few basic recipes under my belt and stopped feeling intimidated, bento became rather liberating.  You can put almost anything in there and call it lunch.

simple using-up-leftovers bento

For this week's bento, I made a mushroom-and-onion stir fry, and thawed some mini sausages I keep in the freezer (part of my johbisai) for bento protein emergencies.  And brown rice made in my magical rice cooker that is awesome (have I mentioned I love my rice cooker and that it is awesome?).  

All in all, especially for something that took maybe fifteen minutes, this was a mighty tasty lunch, even if it doesn't really photograph well.  And it cleared some space in the fridge!  Win-win. 

mushroom and onion stir fry

• sesame oil
• mushrooms, sliced (whatever you've got)
• onion, cut into chopstickable pieces (a half of an onion worked for two bento)
• soy sauce, sake, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, Sriracha
• sesame seeds

Sauté the onion in sesame oil until it is nice and browned, with maybe some burned spots (sound familiar?).  Add mushrooms, and toss a little butter in there if the pan looks too dry.  Mushrooms love butter. 

When the mushrooms are cooked, toss in a blob of hoisin sauce (that's totally a unit, right?), a splash of rice vinegar, another splash of sake, some soy sauce, and a really healthy dose of Sriracha because Sriracha is marvelous.  When in doubt, more Sriracha.  Good life advice, there. 

Oh!  And a little sprinkle of cornstarch helps the sauce to thicken up, if it's being stubborn. 

Cook for a bit until it looks and smells like something you want to eat. 

teriyaki sausages
• sausages (mini or cut up, whatever kind really)
• soy sauce, sake, mirin, brown sugar

Sauté the sausages in some kind of oil (I think I used canola; whatever's in the cabinet) until they brown a little bit.  Add the other stuff (I try to follow this ratio, but at this point I just dump stuff in until it looks right), and cook down until syrupy and tasty.  Nom.  

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