28 February 2007

Bento Box Madness

I bought a bento box like this one on eBay about a week or so ago. It arrived yesterday. I first read about bento boxes on WellFed, when someone, I don't remember who, wrote an article about her Mr. Bento and how it was helping her post-gastric surgery weight loss program. I subsequently developed a minor obsession over bento boxes. (See, I do get obsessive about things other than hot young TV actors. Really.) I read everything I could point my mouse to about them, discovering the Flickr community dedicated to all things Mr. Bento, several great blogs about bento, and then, the hallelujah chorus rang out in my head when I decided to check eBay for a bento box of my own. I had decided that I didn't want a Mr. Bento; I wanted something cute.

And is it ever cute! There's a cute little fork that goes with the set, cute matching chopsticks, with their accompanying case, a little strap to keep the boxes tied together, and a bag to carry it all in. Cute, cute, cute!

DH puts up with me buying things from eBay because I have not yet purchased a car, a house, or major furniture. Some dolls, some books, some yarn, y'know, harmless stuff. He watched me open all the pieces and parts of my new bento box last night with growing incredulity. "What IS that?" He asked, rolling his eyes at yet another needless acquisition.

"A Japanese lunch-box," I responded gleefully. "Isn't it CUTE?"

"How could you possibly fit enough into that for a whole lunch?" He wondered, noting that it is six inches wide, 3.15 inches across, and when all 3 pieces are stacked one on top of the other, no taller than about 4.5 inches. The whole thing fits into a bag no bigger than a 20 ounce bottle of water.

Plenty of room, I assured him. See, two compartments for food! So much fun! He rolled his eyes again and asked how long until dinner was ready. So I made something kind of bento inspired for dinner and brought it with me today for my yummy lunch. The fish dish was inspired by the Fast Fish cookbook and the quiona salad recipe is adapted from Well Fed.

Parchment Wrapped Fish with Quiona Salad

2 large SQUARE pieces of parchment paper
2 fillets any mild, white fish...I use Basa
2 T soy sauce
1 t your favorite hot sauce (I use Sirachi here)
1 T brown sugar
1/4 c lime juice
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 2 limes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c olive oil

Oven 400F

Combine soy, hot sauce, sugar, juice, zest and garlic. Slowly drizzle oil in, as if you were making a vinaigrette. Marinate the fish in this mixture 15 minutes in the fridge, turning once.

Lie one square of parchment on a flat work surface. Place the fish diagonal across the parchment, and bring up the bottom point of the square. Fold in the left and right sides, then flip the packet over, tucking the top corner into the space left at the bottom. You're making a small envelope full of fishy goodness. Bake on a tinfoil lined cookie sheet in the oven 15 minutes. Cut packets open and slide fish onto plates. Serve hot.

While the fish marinates and bakes, make the quiona salad.

1 c quiona
2 cups water
zest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes
2 T sesame oil
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c cilantro, chopped fine
Grape tomatoes...about 1/2 cup
2-3 ribs celery, chopped fine
1 seedless cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into fourths and diced

Follow package directions for quiona. It is a grain just like rice, it simply bears close watching. When it is done, spread onto another tinfoil lined cookie sheet to speed the cooling process. In a large bowl, combine the zest and the juice, and whisk oils in. Add cilantro, and vegetables, allowing them to soak in the dressing. When the quiona has cooled, add it to salad, toss, and add more olive oil if desired. Serve cold.

Dinner was wonderful, and I didn't eat all of my piece of fish intentionally, saving it for today's lunch. It fit beautifully into the bottom tray of my dragonfly bento, and I filled the top with quiona salad. That left a bit of room in the bottom container, so I added a mini muffin liner and filled it with about a tablespoon of blanched, slivered almonds. I closed both containers, fitted the strap around them, and put it in its cute little bag in my fridge. Brought it with me to work, and had a wonderful lunch. The bento box is microwave safe, but not dishwasher safe, which is the only downfall as far as I am concerned.

Definitely enough food, too. Yum!


This Little Piggy said...

I have that same box and I love it!!! I didn't get the set though and I'm sad.

Now you need to take a picture everyday and post it at LiveJournal. http://community.livejournal.com/bentolunch/

MotherMe said...

You're a wicked woman, Lucy. I'm on eBay right now looking for my own bento. Wicked, wicked, wicked.

Lucy Arin said...

I live to serve! ;-)

Count yourself lucky that my other obsessions aren't contagious...

Lucy Arin said...

oh, and Hello The Little Piggy!

I'll try to remember my digital camera on the days when I bring my box. Thanks for commenting!