Households today are bent on economizing, bringing homemade lunches to work. But why not inject some creativity and fun into this serious matter? Think outside the box. Think Japanese bento boxes for grownups!
For hundreds of years, Japanese housewives have been packing bento lunch boxes for their husbands and children. And the tradition has sailed across the Pacific and settled into the homes of many Americans. Making nutritious and cute bento for children is rewarding.
Inari (a niece and nephew pleasing) bento bears
with friendly hard boiled eggs, flower carrots and apple slices.
But why should kids have all the fun? Isn’t it time to treat yourself to a sophisticated, easy to make bento?
The Ninja Baker's Roast Beef Special
The Ninja Baker’s Roast Beef Special
¾ cup cooked brown rice
1/8 tsp. salmon roe, flying fish roe or black caviar
(You only need a tiny bit. So, you can stretch the enjoyment of the treat.)
1 mini yellow, red or orange pepper
1 or 2 slices of roast beef
A small fistful of kaiware, Japanese daikon radish sprouts
(Or bean sprouts)
1 or 2 packets of soy sauce
¼ tsp. horseradish
1 scallion, chopped
4 or 5 asparagus stalks, lightly steamed
4 or 5 slices of green and/or yellow zucchini (raw)
For the sweets section:
1 mini cupcake
3 tablespoons matcha green tea powder
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
¼ cup of powdered sugar
2 petite chocolates
1 sugar free mint candy
The beauty of this bento is that once you’ve cooked up the rice, you’ll have a great foundation for a pilaf supper. You can also make kid-friendly Japanese-style cha-han, which is essentially fried rice, veggies (like mini peppers, scallions zucchini and asparagus) bits of scrambled egg, and mini shrimp.
Japanese-Style Fried Rice: Cha-han
Note: Rice can be frozen for later use but hardens in the refrigerator. It’s all right to make your rice the night before, once cooled, simply cover with plastic wrap and leave it on the counter.
To assemble the bento box, using a mini ice cream scoop or slightly wet hands shape the brown rice into little balls. Sprinkle salmon roe on top.
Lightly steam asparagus.
Slice the zucchini.
Chop the scallions.
Roll up the roast beef with the sprouts. Garnish with horseradish and chopped scallions.
Surround with the steamed asparagus, sliced zucchini and raw mini yellow or red peppers.
Tuck in the soy sauce packets.
Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Matcha Green Tea Cream
For the sweets section:
Whip up the pint of heavy cream with the matcha powder and powdered sugar. A teaspoon of vanilla can also be added.
Note: For the best whipped cream, always put your bowl and beaters in the freezer overnight (or several hours.)
Pipe the matcha cream onto a mini cake. (If pressed for time, place the piping bag in the refrigerator. When decorating more cupcakes in the evening or a later time, if you have children, keep some cupcakes plain or sprinkle with powdered sugar. Not all kids are green tea fans. On the other hand, maybe this is a good time to expand their horizons.)
Surround the cupcake with a chocolate treat or two for the 4 p.m. slump.
Add an after lunch sugar free mint.
Warning: Office mates might be clamoring for you to make them a sophisticated Japanese-style bento box. Who knows? You may start a whole new side business and really help the household budget!
Wishing you treats at lunchtime and always.
The Ninja Baker
© ™ Watkinson 2012
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