To nourish your mind as well as your body

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bento Box Day 1: Shrimp and Salad Bento

So, Day 1 of my bento box experiment went fairly well. As I mentioned previously, I have begun making bento box lunches for my lovely roommate as a culinary experiment.

Monday's box was homemade miso soup with shrimp and tofu shuumai and a carrot sesame salad. [No picture of the soup.] I'll preface this by saying two things. 1) No. I did not make these up (although I did make a few alterations; I couldn't stop myself). The intuitive knowledge of how to make shuumai was not previously in my brain. The recipes for today originated on Just Bento, which is a seriously awesome bento guidance site. 2) Some of these ingredients may look strange, but you'd be surprised where you can find them. I bought mine in Little Tokyo. But after I made my first batch of miso from scratch (and realized it was going to become a staple in my diet because it's ridiculously tasty), I started looking for nearby asian groceries and they're *all over*. And if, by some chance, there isn't one in your area, you can also order most of these directly from Asian Food Grocer.

Shrimp and Tofu Shuumai
(makes 28)

1/2 lb uncooked shrimp, chopped
1 block extra-firm tofu, chopped
1 package shumai skins (You can use wonton skins, too, but the shuumai skins are smaller and thinner)
4 green onions, diced
1 tsp miso paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp mirin
pinch of salt
1 tbsp cornstarch

Note: This is one of those food processor recipes.

Okay. Now that all that's done.

Place tofu, miso paste, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil and cornstarch in the food processor and blend until it's a nice paste. Then add the green onions and shrimp and grind them up.

Now take the package of shuumai. When you open this pack, put it under a bowl to help seal in the moisture. These skins dry out pretty quick.

Place a skin on the palm of your hand. Scoop a spoonful of the blended (and tasty smelling) mix into the center of the skin. Make a circle with your fingers, placing your thumb and forefinger together, and squeeze the filled skin down through the circle. Tap on the bottom to flatten and squeeze gently with your fingers to tighten the dumpling. [If you want a visual for this, go visit Just Bento.] Repeat with all the skins in the pack.

Now take a large, non-stick frying pan. Spray a little oil on and smooth it around. Place the shuumai in the pan and carefully pour in water to half-height of the dumplings. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. DO NOT DO what I did. While my dumplings came out delicious and infinitely edible, they were not as pretty as they could have been because I walked away for a minute and the water boiled over the dumplings.

I placed an edamame on top of each of my shuumai, for kicks.

And ta da! All done! Next. The vegetable side!

Carrot Sesame Salad
(2 servings)

2 medium carrots
handful snow peas
juice of 1 small lemon
1 generous spoonful soy sauce
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 generous spoonful furikake  (I used the bonito flake and egg mix, but there's many varieties)

Grate carrots. Mix in seasonings. Stir. Serve.

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