Saturday, 17 September 2011

Bento Box: Chilled Soba & Seaweed, Sesame Chard & Other Sides

The second day in this series of bento lunches made use of the left over cucumber pickles, kamaboko and bean salad from the day before. To go with these, I made chilled soba, a hard-boiled egg and fresh tomato salad and chard cooked two different ways (because the stems and leaves have really different textures and cook in different times).

Once again, the inspiration for this bento came from various recipes in the "Just Bento" cookbook. Apart from the addition of kamaboko, this is a vegetarian bento.

The first thing to do for these recipes, is to toast up a load of sesame seeds, four tablespoons if you're cooking for two people. Also hard-boil a couple of eggs, which takes about 10 minutes on a lowish heat, so that they can cool down in time for bento-packing. Serve them with a chopped, fresh tomato.

Chilled Seaweed Soba
First cook the soba noodles, use the packet instructions, but that's basically just boiling them for a few minutes and then running them under a cold tap to stop them overcooking.
At the same time as you do this, soak some dried wakame seaweed in cold water until it rehydrates and is ready to use.

Finally, combine the soba and seaweed with a finely sliced spring onion, toasted sesame seeds and a generous sprinkling of furikake or simple salt and pepper. Ideally these would go with a dipping sauce made from warmed mirin, soy sauce and sugar mixed with dashi, but they were still tasty without.

Sesame Chard Greens
Separate the green leaves from the stems of a packet of chard and reserve the stems for the next dish. Pop the sliced leaves into a pan with a little water and cook until they look just like cooked spinach.

Let them cool down and then mix in a bowl with some salt, chilli powder (I love Korean chilli powder), a teaspoon of sesame oil and a load of toasted sesame seeds. This is much more than the sum of its parts, it's really really tasty.

Steamed Rainbow Chard Stems
Simply steam the stems in a microwave for a few minutes with a little butter and water.

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