Monday, April 06, 2015

another bento, because I don't know what else to say yet

This bento is made of lazy.

So my life has been super weird for a while.  Transitioning back into desk-job-land can be a little disorienting after a prolonged period wherein my existence was mostly made up of binge-watching Babylon 5 and eating Nutella with a spoon while naked. 

Hey, don't judge.

Anyway, I floundered around a little bit.  I'm now re-embracing my white-collar reality, and part of that means realizing just how dang expensive my coworkers' habit of going out to eat every single day for lunch gets to be.  On top of that, the whole dietary limitation thing means there's... maybe one or two things I can order at a given restaurant, and friends, that gets boring

So.  Prepping real lunches suddenly makes a whole hell of a lot of sense.  Last week I made a frightfully general pronouncement of the "I'm gonna do this now!" variety, but hadn't really, like, planned or anything.  So last week was a little haphazard.  But being the obsessive planner that I am, this week, by golly, there's strategy.  With shopping in advance and everything.  See me adulting all over the place?

So this morning I got up with the alarm instead of dawdling in a warm bed, and made this delicious creation.  It took about 20 minutes and took up only two pans and one spatula, making it totally manageable.  This one also neatly illustrates two of the most often used tools in my bento cooking toolbox. 

Simple Veg Stir Fry
The idea is simple: cut up whatever veg you have languishing in the fridge, saute it a bit, and top with whatever sauce sounds tasty.

In this case, that looked like:
  1.  zucchini slices and canned bamboo shoots sauteed in sunflower oil, with bottled Szechuan sauce and red pepper flakes stirred in (note: this one wasn't mine, cuz I shouldn't have the red pepper.  I forgot to snap a shot of my bento today); and
  2. weird little mushrooms I got from an ethnic market sauteed in butter, with fresh spinach, mirin, and soy sauce (you can't really see this one, as it's under the steak).
But the basic model is remarkably versatile.  Instant side dish, foundation on which to layer something fancier, or bento filler.  Add something proteiny and you could  make a meal out of just stir-fried stuff, though for bento I like making multiple little dishes.  While my bento are super-boring by some standards and I'm neither cool enough nor motivated enough to get into kyaraben, I do feel that having several dishes in the box makes it somehow fancier and less like leftovers.

Teriyaki <insert meat here>
So at the store, I was poking around and found a ridiculously gorgeous looking steak.  I didn't recognize the type of cut, but it was deep red and beautiful, so I took a chance and bought it.  I kinda know nothing about meat; it's a bit of a skills gap.  Must fix that someday.

Last night it was sliced up super-thin (across the grain, of course!) and tossed in a baggie with some soy sauce, mirin, and brown sugar to marinate.  Normally I'd use some sake as well, but we appear to be out at the moment so whatever.  This morning I fried it in some sesame oil for like two minutes (cast iron over high heat gives the most satisfying browning without overcooking), added a little extra of the sauce ingredients, and topped with sesame seeds.  Super easy!

This model (slice meat, marinate overnight, fry up) is a good one, and seriously takes maybe five minutes in the morning.  Chicken and steak are great for this.  Delicious and so trivial to do. 

The combination of these two generic "recipes" facilitates a lot of not having to think in the morning, but still winding up with a tasty lunch.  And I appreciate that rather a  lot.

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