I've been playing with bento, mostly from leftovers, the last few days. We had some leftover kabobs with chicken, beef, pepper, onions & mushrooms. I decided they could be repurposed as bento dishes.
For the first reincarnation I sliced a few pieces of the beef & chicken and sliced the pieces of pepper, onion & mushrooms. I sautéed them in a little sesame oil and finished with the little bit of teriyaki sauce left in the bottle. It was pretty good.
I paired that with some leftover macaroni & tuna salad. I mean if you're gonna do leftovers, don't discriminate! Besides, there are many versions of a macaroni salad in the bento books. Some watermelon chunks added a "dessert" and helped fill my teddy-bear bento box.
For the next recreation I tried something I had read about - minced meat cooked until saucy and served over rice with a sort of scrambled egg and a vegetable dish. I minced the remaining beef & chicken in the food processor and sizzled it in a little sesame oil, drizzling with soy sauce and mirin until it was tasty.
Likewise, I "scrambled" an egg, beaten with a little soy and mirin, by holding several chopsticks in my hand and stirring constantly until the egg was cooked and crumbly. These two "sprinkles" were spread over a bed of rice. The remaining pepper, onion & mushroom was sliced and cooked as before. These were accompanied by a quick zucchini pickle. There was enough of the meat and vegetable left for yet another bento the next day.
For this third and final version, I simply reheated the meat & vegetable (separately) adding a little more soy & mirin and spread them over the rice. I made a one-egg tamagoyaki and also made a dish of carrot, onion & celery, julienned and cooked in sesame oil with soy and mirin and a little red pepper flakes. Don't be deterred by using the same "dressing" ingredients in every dish. For some reason, each retains its own unique flavors, complemented by the sauce ingredients. They don't all taste the same.
Go ahead and use leftovers in your bento. Indeed, go ahead and use just about anything in your bento! From peanut butter sandwiches to marinated artichoke hearts to tuna casserole, anything goes. And if it tastes good otherwise, it will taste good in your bento!
Quotable quotes; in the category Yes The Bento Lunch Is Tasty But What's For Supper?
"I'm the kind of girl who thinks about what she's gonna cook for dinner when she's finishing her lunch." Padma Lakshmi, Cookbook Author, Actress, Model & Television Host.