5 Dec 2014

Bento Lunch Box for Adults, Part II / Otona no Obento 大人のお弁当 II

This is the part II following my post about ‘Bento Lunch Box for Adults’ or ‘Otona no Obento’ (大人のお弁当), link - here -. Feel free to read the earlier post before coming to this one.

I told I made my very own lunch box, well, only sometimes. Even so, some of the merits are:
1. you know what sauces, cooking oil, ingredients you use, you have a control, and thus you know better what you eat.
2. can be healthier, for e.g. minimizing oil usage, less sodium, less / no MSG, better quality of ingredients, cleaner preparation and food handling, and etc.
3. it is usually, or it can be, cheaper than eating out.
4. save hassle to get around looking for a meal, you know in Malaysia under the hot hot sun during noon sweating and all, and of course save time during work if you are in tight schedule.

I told I usually cooked the rice the night before, normally while watching TV. Let it cool. If prefer, separate into individual serving, and keep in the fridge. The next morning, the first thing before I brush my teeth, take it out, steam it thoroughly. Of course, you can microwave reheating it.

The previous post more on Japanese notion bento pack, sandwiches and muffins. This round, add in something Chinese, something prepared the night before, and even cereal. Just some ideas to share with ya.

- Ochazuke お茶漬け bento. I love love love ochazuke. I have made dozens of ochazuke in my office! Often with local rice and local fish, and my colleague would laugh I made the tea rice thing, again.
This one is wasabi ochazuke with salmon. The side potato salad, I prepared the night before and kept in the fridge. Take it as an appetizer and finish it first, wipe away those remaining mayo on the container, and then pour in green tea ~ there you go, ochazuke!
Super yum!

- Hijiki onigiri bento with boiled broccoli and sausage. I am fan of hijiki. Made the hijiki no nimono when I was free and keep in the fridge first. The morning, mix hijiki plus toasted sesame seeds into steamed rice, reheat, grip into onigiri. Grapes are good Mickey ears, what do you think?

- Japanese curry rice or kare raisu bento. Very easy. Again, just cook the Japanese curry the night before or maybe during Sunday. Reheat when you need it. I use aluminum foil folding a tub to segregate it from the rice itself. Of course, you can use a two-tier container.

- Another simple hand-grip onigiri bento with cocktail sausages. For me, grapes are always good and easy to tag along.

- Steamed lap mei fan 臘味飯 with a bit of dried squid strips and soy sauce, again, it was cooked the night before, blanched broccoli is yummy. Easy and fast.
- Braised pork, egg and tofu 滷肉-蛋-豆腐, made on Sunday. The next day, I brought to office served with fresh butter lettuce, a mix of grain-rice & Japanese rice.

- Stir-fried bitter gourd belly pork and then cooked within jasmine rice, pan-fried egg with ham strips as side dish.

- Dry spinach wan tan noodles with boiled capsicum, fish balls & etc.

 - ‘No time’, or perhaps ‘just lazy’ approach, the omlette and rice bento. Here is minced pork and chili omlette. It is always good to just insert in some fresh salad leaves and cherry tomato into the bento. Since or because: no time, or, cough.. lazy…

 - Lunch box with homemade stuffed veggies with fish paste 釀料. Well, this Chinese dish is troublesome. No way to get it done in rushing morning. I cooked a bit more during Sunday, so that I can bring to work on Monday. I brought along wax apple too, one of my most favourite fruits.

- Simple Chinese fried rice lunch box. Char siew, shrimps, french beans and onion stir-fried  with leftover jasmine rice.

 - Mini beef steak and salad bento. Marinate the steak beforehand of course.

- This is more western, fried cocktail fish fillet with a lemon cut, potato broccoli salad as side.

- Egg and bacon sandwich. Sandwich is always handy. This one with wholemeal bread, spread-ed with butter and tomato sauce, pan-fried egg and a bit of bacon, cheese slice and salad leaves.

- You want something really fast and light: cereal. Any day before, toast your favourite nuts, I have here: almond, cashew nuts and walnuts, ‘cos these 3 are always in my fridge. Just assemble corn flakes or whatever cereal you prefer, chopped toasted nuts, and your choice of dried fruits. I got the pack done the night before. Ahh, don’t forget to bring along a pack of milk.

Now, here come a concern, about food safety. How to better keep food from getting soured, turning bad and etc. For bringing to work, some of my suggestions and what I would do are:
- after reheat and cooking, let it cool, before cover with lid.
- when reached working place, open the lid of the container, wipe off the condensed water on the inner side of the lid with tissue paper, cover it back.
- if possible store in air-conditioned room, never place under the sun nor any humid environment.
- invest in good containers, some said with anti-microbial surface, silver ion, agent reduces microorganisms growing, blah blah blah… (I am no specialist, I can’t comment more on that.)
- invest in microwave-safe containers if your work place has fridge and microwave.
- wisely use tiered containers, food dividers, silicone cups, one side PET paper cups and etc to separate individual food, lock food with gravy within its position.
- if possible, avoid preparing food with load of gravy, watery food. Drier food does keep longer. Bread, biscuits, muffins, cereal and etc last longer, no doubt.
- wisely pick appropriate dishes, drop those fast turning bad types, for e.g. fresh coconut milk & so on.
- consume as soon as you can. In case that any bad odour or sour stale taste present, do not eat. I know it’s your heart and sweat getting the bento done. Do not take any risk. Food safety, no compromise.

I prepare my bento lunch box around 7 ~ 7.30 am, but no matter what I would finish my meal by 1.30 pm. I must stress: I am no professional, but so far so good, I have yet encountered my lunch box turns bad.

Long post. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the reading. And, maybe you might put your hands making some bento lunch boxes. Happy cooking.

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