Yoko and I have talked a lot about bentos on this blog. We often make them for each other when we are both working at the shop, and reminisce about how we used to be so ashamed of the bentos our moms made us growing up. Lord knows I just wanted to eat bologna sandwiches or peel open a Lunchables like the other American kids. I used to throw away my bentos so no one would make fun of the black stuff on rice (furikake). SORRY MOM!
Now that I have a daughter of my own, I better get into the bento game! In Japan, bentos are a big deal and are a point of contention among mothers – who will make the best, most artistic, visually stunning bento for their child? It's totally nuts and I am not very interested in the high-maintenance bento wars. I am lazy, afterall.
So I'm resurrecting my very dusty column, Lazyass Cookin' just for the subject of the bento!
The bento basics are as follows:
Anything more than this is simply flair – for flavor and color. Since this is a Lazyass Bento, I did the laziest protein-rich dish: scrambled eggs with fish sausage. This is a favorite of my father's – we could both live on fish sausages (we serve it at our bar!). I added some other flavor enhancers to make the greens and rice taste better.
You'll also need a cool (yet functional) bento box!
1. Blanch okra in boiling water.
Take out of water after a couple of minutes.
Remember the bento basics – greens are important for a bento! I would usually blanch broccoli or spinach for my bento, but okra is in season now and I had just gotten some at the farmer's market.
2. Slice fish sausage into coins.
You can get fish sausage at Japanese or Asian markets. It's basically the spam of Japan, made with fish instead of meat products. Honestly, it's very salty and MSG-heavy, and very enjoyable for this reason. It's also an excellent sake accompaniment.
3. Slice myoga (think of this as a ginger-scallion). I got a bunch from Cindy's garden which was a special treat! If I didn't have the myoga, I would simply use scallions.
4. Scramble the fish sausage, myoga, and eggs together. Set aside.
5. Prepare your condiments. The Taberu Rayu is a shop favorite: fried garlic bits in spicy sesame oil.
The furikake is a collaboration with Oaktown Spice Shop – a delicious blend of shiso, sesame seeds, miso, umeboshi, nori, and dulse.
Sprinkle furikake on rice. Use the bento divider to keep the rice separate from the rest of the bento contents.
Slice okra and drizzle some Taberu Rayu over it.
I had some cherry tomatoes rolling in my fridge so added them here for a pop of color. Remember that bentos should be visually colorful!
I must have been eating lunch solo this day cause Yoko does not eat eggs!
I would recommend letting the bento breathe a little before closing it so the steam does not make all the food soggy.
But I didn't have a ton of time so had to snap my bento shut and jet!
Wrap in a furoshiki!
My daughter started eating solids this week. I can't wait to start making her bentos to take to school! She better eat it all!