Thursday, July 10, 2008

Recipe for Miso egg plant

Pan-fried egg plant with Miso - (Nasu No Nabeshigi)

6 egg plants - cut into rounds about 1cm
Oil - 3 Tbsp
Sesame oil - 3-4 Tbsp
Miso - 3 Tbsp
Mirin - 3 Tbsp
Sake - 3 Tbsp
Water - 2 Tbsp
Sugar - 3 Tbsp
Toasted white sesame seeds - 2 Tbsp

1. Mix (B) together in a bowl until smooth.
2. Pan-fry (A) egg plants in oils till brown on both sides.
3. Pour mixture (B) over the pan-fried egg plants. Cook until the sauce thickens and egg plants are well coated.
4. Serve on a plate topped with (C) toasted sesame seeds.


Recipe for Burdock Kimpira

Burdock Kimpira (Kimpira Gobo)

150 g burdock root (gobo)
1 small carrot
1 1/2 Tbsp Sesame oil
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp sake
2 Tbsp shoyu
1 1/2 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
Dried Japanese red chilli (optional)

1. Scrape burdock root and cut into julienne strips.
Note: The burdock root turns black easily when exposed to air so you need to keep it soaked in water (like what you would do for potatoes).

2. Pour sesame oil onto skillet and saute the (A) burdock together with the julienned carrot for a few minutes until tender but not soft.

3. Mix the (B) liquids and sugar together and pour it into the skillet and continue cooking under medium fire until almost dry.

4. Toss in chopped dried Japanese chilli and top with toasted sesame seeds.


BENTO #101

I've always thought that green and yellow is an ideal match in terms of color? I tried to theme today's bento in those colors.

In the left box is some plain onigiri rice topped with some ume furikake. In between the rice, I slipped in some takuan. I filled the huge silicon cup with Burdock kimpira.

In the right side box, there was a foil cup filled with asparagus, spring onions, beaten egg, shoyu, mirin and mayonnaise - baked in an oven toaster. For vegetables, I had steamed baby corn. I steamed some Japanese sweet potato for desert.

For more desert, I had dried cranberries which I put into the small "froggie" box.

Now, let me share with you how my lunch tasted. The onigiri cylinders went well with the Burdock kimpira, it was crunchy, flavorful and spicy because there was dried chillies in it.

The baked egg was really good. I think the mayonnaise added to it's flavor and this is definitely going to appear in future bentos because I'm sure #2 is going to like it too. The corn was 'ordinary' but the Japanese sweet potatoes were awesome. So, so sweet, as though dipped in syrup!!

The dried cranberries had a tangy taste to it so again, it was a good finish to a simple meal.

I am going to post up the recipes for yesterday's miso egg plant and today's Burdock kimpira. I think they are delicious and certainly worth trying out.

I sent this bento post to Coffee & Vanilla for their Wholesome Lunchbox monthly food blogging event.

More reasons to Bento

I was checking my mail this morning when I came across some interesting articles on primary school pupils 'eating healthy meals'. According to the Press Association, research has found that more pupils are 'eating healthy meals' - read here.

However, where primary school pupils numbers are on the increase, the Secondary school students numbers are on the decline. According to the same article "Teenagers are independent young people and changing entrenched eating habits does not happen overnight. They need food education and encouragement from schools to change their eating habits."

And so true it is. Eating habits does not happen overnight, parents like us can vouch for that statement. It is a life long process beginning from an early age. Like what the Chinese saying that goes "You cannot straighten an old bent tree or You cannot teach an old dog new tricks."

The statistics in the article relate to schools in UK where the new Government rules require greater use of fresh ingredients cooked from scratch. The only setback is the escalation of food prices which deters purchasing of quality dinners.

Pupils prefer to 'choose junk food' because it's cheaper and the queues are shorter. Read here.
Quote: "Our research found that local takeaways in the school fringe were undercutting the school canteen by offering child-sized portions for £1.

"This meant that for the equivalent price of a school meal, pupils could buy chicken and chips or a whole pizza and still have money left over for a drink or sweets."

In a bid to keep the pupils within the school compound, a UK government minister said this "Children should be forced to stay on school grounds at lunchtime in a bid to stop them eating junk food". Education minister Kevin Brennan insisted the restriction could help tackle obesity and prevent tensions with those who live nearby.

As a parent I find this statement amusing. In a country like UK where there is so much said about freedom of rights and development, they are trying to use 'force' on their citizens?

Hahaha! What a joke. Isn't healthy eating habits, behavioural patterns and accountability part and parcel of our responsibility as parents to our own kids. You don't need to agree with me, this is solely my own opinion. Any moron can see that trying to 'force' anything on any people in any part of the world cannot work!!

Part of the reason my daughters insist on bringing their Bento to school is because of the long queues at the canteen during break time. The local Malaysian school system breaks for 15-20 minutes including the time taken for the kid to walk from the third floor downstairs and another 10-15 meters to the canteen and that again take the same route back to the class within the stipulated time. No wonder, sometimes, my kids either have to wolf down their food and risk a tummy ache from lack of chewing or leave the balance for after school to consume!

One of the reasons that has made me a 'frenzied bento packer' is because in Malaysian school canteens, the most salable foods are nuggets, fries, nasi lemak and junk food.

Read here for more insight about how, quote: "food bought by pupils outside school provided at least 23% of their daily energy requirement and was often high in fat or sugar.

The top 10 foods bought in local shops included fizzy drinks, chocolate, sweets, crisps, cakes, biscuits and chips.


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