The day before she was due to take the plane back home to Ohio, my sister said that she needed to buy something to eat during the flight because apparently they don’t serve food anymore on local flights. What?! It seems that for the last couple of decades I’ve only flown on international flights. They do serve peanuts, chips and soft drinks I guess. My sister’s idea was to load up with bags of chips, crackers, cookies, etc. “Hell no”, I said in a sisterly fashion, this is a job for bento box!”
A bento box is easy to put together from the leftovers in your refrigerator but the best ones are made fresh, specifically for packing in the box. I did this not only because I didn’t have any leftovers but, of course, because I love my sister 😉
I began with inarizushi, fried tofu skins stuffed with sushi rice and tuna salad and sprinkled with furikake. I like to make these 🙂
I had a vague idea for cold somen noodles with a peanut sauce recipe I usually use for coleslaw. This worked out well. The one drawback is that you must rinse and scrub the cooked somen noodles thoroughly to prevent them from sticking together, removing the outside starch from the noodles until they are almost squeaky. This takes about 12 scrub/rinses.
Another delicious and easy addition for a bento box is spicy, sesame shrimp. Also an amazing finger food with cocktails.
Butter baked, lightly floured chicken thighs can be versatile in a bento box; left whole, sliced with or without an accompanying sauce. I left my whole.
In addition to the above, I added a hard boiled egg, spinach sauteed with garlic, cumin flavored courgette and a peeled and sectioned clementine. Too much food? Not at all. It all fit into a small 2 layered box. Too little? No, bento boxes are perfect for portion control and turns lunch into a celebration of tastes.
Cold Somen Noodles with Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup peanut butter (chunky if you have it)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 hot green chilli, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
3 bundles of dried somen noodles
Whisk the vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, sesame oil and peanut butter together in a small bowl and set aside.
Mix the scallions, chilli, bell pepper, ginger and cilantro together in a small bowl and set aside.
Boil the noodles for 3 minutes, drain, rinse and gently scrub in cold water ( think hand washing a delicate blouse), changing the water at least 12 times until the water runs clear and noodles have a vaguely squeaky feel.
Toss the noodles, vegetables and sauce together. Eat immediately or cover and refrigerate for later.