I forgot to post this on Tuesday when I made it for lunch… but it’s here now!
- 3/4 cup sushi rice
- 1/4 cup vegetable confit
Recipe from JustBento – I added some fennel as well.
- Assorted steamed veges (broccoli, carrot, cauliflower)
- Slightly burnt teriyaki salmon
- Fruit cup (tinned peaches)
- iced tea sachets
I’ll post the recipe for the teriyaki salmon when I make it again (without burning it this time haha).
There’s heaps of reasons for cooking veges in the microwave instead of on the stove.
- Boiling your veges causes a lot of their nutrients to leak out into the surrounding water. When you microwave them, this doesn’t happen.
- It’s far quicker in the microwave than on the stove – you don’t have to wait for the water to boil first.
- You’re less likely to over-cook the veges – the microwave stops cooking as soon as the timer is up, but on the stove they will keep cooking until you take them out of the water/off the steamer
- The microwave uses less energy than heating a pot of water on the stove
What you’ll need:
- veges (duh)
- a microwave (WARNING: my microwave power is 700W at maximum. Please be careful that you are using approximately the same power level on your microwave, otherwise you may over-cook your veges or even melt your container)
- a decent quality microwave-safe container with a lid (preferably with a steam vent – I generally use one of these – remnants of my time as a Tupperware demonstrator)
- Chop up your veges – make the softer ones larger pieces, and the harder ones a bit smaller. I generally chop carrots into rounds that are about 5mm (1/4″) thick, broccoli/cauliflower into florets about the size of a golf ball, and softer things like zucchini into rounds about 1cm (1/2″) thick.
- Put all the veges into your microwave container, and top with a 1 tbsp of water per serve of veges.
- Put on lid – if you have a steam vent, make sure this is open. If you don’t, leave one corner of the lid un-sealed so steam can escape.
- Cook veges at approx 700W for 5mins for 1 serve (2 serves will take about 8mins). If the veges are undercooked for your liking, cook them further in 30 sec bursts (still at 700w) until cooked through.
The cooking time will vary slightly between microwaves, but if you’ve got the wattage pretty close to 700W, this will make cooked veges that still have some bite to them – I don’t like super-soft veges. The times stated are what I use in my microwave.
I have a steamer insert that sits over my largest pot (a 6L soup pot), and if I’m doing veges for a lot of people (or if I’m cooking something in the big pot – e.g. pasta) I’ll put the veges into this instead of in the microwave. Steaming your veges in this way has many of the same benefits of microwaving them, but you do have to make sure you take the steamer off the pot as soon as they’re ready, because they’ll keep cooking as long as they are over the steam.
I always microwave my veges when I’m making bentos though, because it is much quicker and results in less clean-up, because I just re-use the same microwave container for everything I need to reheat, generally in the following order:
- Defrost frozen rice
- Cook veges
- Defrost meat items (always do meat last if you’re using the same container, and follow the food-safety tips from this post on JustBento if you’re packing a lunch)
If I’m going to be home at lunch time, I prefer to make my rice fresh when I’m about to eat (it just tastes better in my opinion).
Only problem is, I don’t always need to stock up my freezer stash of rice, so there’s no point using my rice cooker (I need to cook a minimum of 2 cups in that, and that’s 4 serves once it’s cooked). So I’ve fine-tuned this stove-top method to make it useable for a single serve.
What you’ll need:
- a very small pan with a heavy base and a well-sealing lid (I use this one) – if you can get a pot with a glass lid it makes everything a heap easier
- fine mesh sieve/strainer
- 1/2 cup dry japonica rice (also called “sushi rice”)
- Rinse the rice 3-4 times. The video below from Just One Cookbook shows the proper method for rinsing the rice and also gives a really good idea of what the water should look like at the end of the process. This tutorial is what I used as a baseline for my experiments with times for cooking a single serve of rice.
- Drain the rice well (leaving it in the strainer over a bowl), and leave for about 10-15mins.
- Put rice into saucepan with some water (For 1/2 cup dry rice, you’ll need 1/2 cup + 1/8 cup of water). Allow to soak for about 10-15mins.
- After it has soaked, put the pot on the stove at medium heat (with lid on) until the water boils. This is where a glass lid comes in handy! If you don’t have a glass lid to your pot, listen out for the bubbling and have a quick peek (don’t take the lid fully off, just lift it enough to check that the water is boiling).
- Once the water is boiling, take the pot off the hotplate and turn it off. LEAVE THE LID ON. Allow the hotplate to cool for approx 2 mins, then turn it back on at low heat. Replace the pot (lid still on) and cook for 8mins without lifting the lid.
Gas cooker: Once the water is boiling, turn the gas down to low and cook for 10mins (covered). I’m figuring that this will be roughly equivalent to the electric instructions, because SCIENCE REASONS involving ambient heat and heat retention.
- After the timer goes off, remove pot from heat and allow to sit for 10mins COVERED. Do not lift the lid at all unless you absolutely MUST peek at your rice.
- After the 10 mins, take off the lid and give the rice a gentle stir with a rice paddle. There should not be any water in the bottom of the pot, but occasionally there might be. If there is, put the lid back on and heat over medium heat for a minute or so, until the water is gone. Allow to sit (covered) for a couple of minutes afterwards.
- Your rice is now ready to eat!
If you’re putting rice in a bento box, you should always allow it to cool before sealing the box, or the steam will make it go a bit slimy. You can eat the rice plain, or you can top it with just about anything! If I’m putting it in a bento, I’ll usually put a bit of my homemade nori furikake on it.
This makes 1 cup of cooked rice, which is a good-sized serve for your average adult female. 1 cup of rice will make approximately 3 average-sized onigiri if you want to do that. This is a great tutorial of how to make onigiri in an easy, mess-free way (it’s how I make them).
– Rice on the bottom of your pan is all brown and crunchy, but the rest of the rice is fine: you may be cooking the rice on too high a heat (or for too long). High heat is most likely, so try cooking it on a lower heat. Generally this will solve the issue.
– There is ALWAYS water left at the bottom of your pot at step 6: try cooking on a slightly higher heat or for an additional minute or two. Alternatively, if rice is cooked through and there is left over water, use slightly less (see the last point about the weather and humidity)
– Rice is gloopy once all the water is absorbed: there may be too much starch left on the outside. Try rinsing the rice a few extra times next time.
– Rice goes mushy and loses its shape: you are using too much water. Use a little less water next time (this will tie in with the 2nd troubleshooting point as well). Generally, I use a 1:1.25 (rice:water) ratio for the stovetop instructions above.
– Rice is not cooked all the way through, and all water is absorbed: add a little extra water. I find in very dry weather (i.e. winter for me) I need to add a little extra water, so in winter I sometimes use a 1:1.5 ratio instead.
This is not my picture, because I accidentally left mine cooking for a little too long – and the way they now look, “Zombie Meatballs” would be a better description :S (Mine are featured in this bento).
Here is the recipe! (From JustBento.com)
The only thing I can say is that I will not be using wombok cabbage next time – the leaves were way to flimsy. I’ll just get a normal cabbage (the leaves are slightly thicker on a normal cabbage, so I figure they’ll be less likely to fall apart).
Very yummy, but Hubby was decidedly creeped out by them haha – at least I know that I’ll get to eat them myself!
I’ve also managed to convert my Mum to bento lunches – she usually has 2 or 3 international students, and she makes lunch for them to take to school/uni/whatever, and when I showed her what I did for lunches she thought it was the best idea ever, so now she’s started doing that for the students 🙂 They like it a lot, as they’re all Chinese/Japanese, so the whole lunchbox-with-rice thing is very familiar for them, and they like that they get a mix of what they’re used to as well as new stuff.
This is from Sunday – previously, I haven’t tended to make bentos on weekends because I’ve never really needed to. But now, because of a musical I’m involved in has rehearsals on Sundays (and I can’t afford takeaway at the moment) I’ll be taking bento lunches to that.
- veges (carrot, cauli, and some frozen peas – I was out of broccoli)
- caramelised onions
- chicken enchilada filling w/ cheese
Pretty much everything in this bento was leftovers – rice was frozen, enchilada mix too, onions were from the night before’s dinner, and the peas were just part of my huge collection of frozen veges. The only things I had to prepare fresh were the carrots and cauli.
Got a lot of compliments about this one today – everyone was saying how good it smelled and looked, and the enchilada mix stirred into the rice tasted absolutely AMAZING.
I will definitely be doing the enchilada-rice combo again 🙂
So here we have the bento I actually ate on Friday (I just hadn’t gotten around to posting it until now).
We have the usual veges, plus some leftover spaghetti bolognese from last night’s dinner (about 1/2 cup pasta and 1/2 cup bolognese sauce).
The soup is a packet one that is a particular favourite of mine, but I don’t often get it because they are usually a bit pricey (they were on special this week so I got a couple).
What do we have this time?
- carrot, cauliflower and broccoli – steamed
- 1 cup rice with some seaweed furikake
- lemon chicken nuggets (homemade) – recipe from JustBento.com
Total calories: 480
This was actually my dinner today, because I was being a bit lazy with the dishes and I didn’t have any cooking utensils clean to make this at lunch time (I ended up having soup from the freezer – taco soup om nom nom).
Generally, my bentos are pretty boring because it’s just easier for me to deal with in the morning. To keep from giving you guys monotonous posts I’ll only post something if I’ve made something new 🙂
And for anyone who’s curious, this is what my bento box looks like when I put it all together (minus the soup bowl) – the little domed top sits inside the bowl when you put it all together properly.
There’s 2 separate photos because the rice was still cooking, but I wanted to eat the miso soup 🙂
What have we got today?
- Miso soup with some sliced spring onion (I keep a bag of sliced spring onion in the freezer, you never know when you’ll want it)
- 3 mini cabbage rolls (which look a little less than optimal, because I forgot about them while they were cooking – the leaves went a little too soggy) – recipe from JustBento
- Rice with peas (I just added a 1/4 cup frozen peas to the rice at the start of the cooking process)
Total calories: 505
All in all, a quick lunch 🙂
I made the cabbage rolls in advance and froze them in sets of 3, and salad was leftover from the BBQ we had on the weekend.
This is my “ugh can’t be bothered” bento.
It could also be called my “oops I forgot to prep” bento, or “oh god is that the time? I’d better make something to eat” bento (I suddenly realised it was 2pm and I hadn’t eaten lunch, so this is what I made).
It uses things I always have in my fridge/pantry, and the longest part of the process is cooking the rice.
- 1/2 carrot
- 3 florets broccoli
- 3 florets cauliflower
- 1-egg tamagoyaki – I usually add slightly less than 1/2tsp sugar, because I like it a little less sweet
- 1 cup rice with some homemade furikake
Total calories: approximately 400
Usually, I would also include about 150cal of something meaty (usually chicken) but I didn’t have anything left that was ready to go. I’d made a huge batch of Torihamu last week, but the little bit that was left didn’t smell right (even Jacket wouldn’t touch it, and he’s usually begging me to share) so I chucked it out. Everything else was still frozen solid.
Also, I’m a little out of practice with making the tamagoyaki – idiot me forgot to oil the pan first, so it’s a less-than-attractive version. Still tasted just as good though 🙂
There would also usually be some sort of brothy soup in the bowl (miso, chicken, tomato, etc) but I only have miso at the moment and I don’t feel like that today. I’ll have a cup of tea instead.
As you may have seen on twitter, my new lunchbox arrived!
I should be sharing at least 1 lunch set up per week from now on, so keep an eye out for those!
P.S. For some reason, the twitter embed is not showing up properly when I look at the post, it’s cutting off about a third of the picture. If someone knows how to fix that, feel free to tell me!