I brought a bento to work for lunch today. I am not posting a picture of it because it is decidedly ugly. I tried making a tamagoyaki (rolled egg omelet) with asparagus spears rolled up inside. It failed dismally, falling apart and looking extremely un-photogenic. I know from experience that tamagoyaki is delicious. In fact it's usually my favorite part of the bento and I try to include one in every bento I make, so I'm confident that this ugly duckling will still taste great.
In addition I have beef strips with shitake mushroom and a sort of spicy chicken teriyaki. I cooked the mushrooms the day before, then added them to the beef. I also cooked some carrot, celery and radish (raw veggies from a couple days ago) and glazed them with the chicken. In case you want to try them here are my "recipes". I don't claim they are authentic but they are all based on recipes I have found at other bento blogs and cookbooks with my own adaptations imposed up on them. Enjoy!
Simmered Shitake Mushrooms: my recipe said to use fresh mushrooms. I didn't have any so I soaked dried mushrooms in water, trimmed & discarded the stems, then sautéed them in sesame oil. I added a drizzle of soy sauce, mirin and sake and a pinch of sugar and simmered until the liquid had cooked away and the mushrooms were glazed. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
Sesame Style Beef: slice any tender cut of beef thinly against the grain. About a half dozen generous slices will make a nice serving. Marinate 15 - 30 minutes in soy sauce, mirin and sake - about a teaspoon or so of each. Saute over medium high heat in sesame oil, then add the marinade and simmer, turning often, until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy glaze and the beef is coated. Optional - you can add a pinch of red pepper flakes and garnish with minced green onion if you wish. Add the mushrooms and finish the beef & mushrooms together.
Spicy Chicken: use chicken breast or thigh, as you prefer, boneless, skinless or not. Marinate in a little hot sauce such as Tabasco or Picante sauce. Saute in sesame oil until browned on all sides then add a little teriyaki sauce or a dribble each of soy sauce, mirin and sake (are you getting a picture here?) and simmer until thickened and chicken is glazed. Optional, include some celery, carrot and onion or radish, thinly sliced and cooked in sesame oil, soy sauce & mirin. Alternately, toss the marinated chicken in a little corn starch or potato starch, omit the teriyaki sauce, and cook until browned and crusty.
Pack your bento with steamed rice, the beef, chicken and tamagoyaki, if you made one, and some extra spears of asparagus or steamed broccoli florets. Add a couple cherry tomatoes for color. Allow the bento to cool completely before placing the cover on the box. This bento should require no refrigeration as long as it's eaten within a few hours of preparing.
For more bento ideas check out my favorite bento blog, Just Bento.
Quotable quotes; in the category This Way To Tasty But Ugly Tamagoyaki!
"Failures are the finger posts on the road to achievement."
C. S. Lewis