Number 29: Back in My Kitchen

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(Hamburger with a demi-glaze, honey-glazed sweet potatoes, and rice dotted with an umeboshi)

First things first: happy new year to all of you!

A somewhat uninspiring bento to start off the year with: I have to get used to cooking for and by myself again after spending three weeks with mum in my hometown.  This three-week winter break was ridiculously unproductive.  I was not able to do as many updates as I had promised, complete the research work for my professor, start sewing my apron, and finish the scarf that I promised my friend.  In fact, I was so useless that I could not even finish watching Coffee Prince.  Usually with productions of this high calibre, I should be able to run a marathon and blaze through it within three days.

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To get back into the habit of bento-packing, I am compiling my stash of goodies that will hopefully save me from hunger and horrid cafeteria food later in the semester (if you are interested, Maki from Just Bento has written a helpful entry on johbisai).  Items on my list include:

  • bainiku and ume-miso (completed)
  • salted salmon (completed)
  • hamburgers (completed)
  • vegetable patties
  • homemade fish cakes, breaded but unfried
  • potato croquettes, breaded but unfried

Among these things, hamburgers are the top essential item for me.  Not only are they easy to make, they also freeze well and taste pretty okay at room temperature.

I am always in search for ways to improve my homemade hamburgers.  This time, I was inspired by the “Hamburger vs. Fried Shrimp” battle on Dotch Cooking Show and decided to prepare the hamburgers following their way.  I used both ground beef and pork (7:3 ratio) and caramelized half the minced onion before adding it to the mix.  I also devoted more time to shaping the patties by tossing them between my hands.  In my mind, this improved the texture of the meat (could very likely be a placebo effect).  The resulting hamburgers were the most successful and the juiciest I had ever made, and I was glad that this special effort paid off.

If you have any sort of burger tips that you want to share, do tell!

Actually, if you have a good recipe for vegetarian patties, I’d love to hear about it as well.

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7 comments

  1. alioc

    Love your blog – recently discovered it and read every page!

    What do you use for the demi-glaze on the hamburger? It sounds like something I’d like to use for my meatballs.

  2. hi commoi, you couldn’t finish watching Coffee Prince (^o^)?!?

    as for hamburgers, i like to use half meat and half dried soya mince or okara, so that it’s not so heavy and meaty.

    anyway, I have a question, am not sure if you can help me. do you know where are good places in Hong Kong to look for bento equipment? thanks v much.

  3. commoi

    alioc: Thank you for your comment.

    I actually cheated, used store-bought demi-glaze, but enhanced the existing product by simmering it with extra veggies and fruits (i.e. apples). Making demi-glaze from scratch usually take hours!

    niceties: Bento supplies are availabe in places where the Japanese population tend to shop or in Japanese-style stores (i.e. Apita in Taikoo and various Citysuper! branches). You can also visit MUJI (the branch in Taikoo) and franc franc (in Causeway Bay) for bento boxes (but not for accessories). Occasionally you’ll find the odd bento box in “zakka”/stationary stores (often in tiny and crowded malls for young people), but that really depends on your luck.

    Of the various shops, Apita has the largest collection (b/c there’re a lot of Japanese families living in the area). The bento culture in HK is not as vibrant as one may expect.

    I finished “Coffee Prince” last week, after I came back to Montreal. It did take a while, though. :D

  4. Thanks a lot for the HK shopping tips :). You might have read my posting on the dismal bento shopping in Singapore (not that I need any more but it’s fun to browse :D). My friend in HK (who is not a bento fan) thinks there’s more stuff in HK and just reported a huge new stock of Japanese things in City Super.

    I can’t forget the demi-glaze cooking scenes in Lunch no Joou :).

  5. commoi

    niceties: Apparently CitySuper! sometimes have special events/promotions that may feature bento goods. Back in fall 2007, they had a Shinzi Katoh special (YES IT’S SHINZI KATOH!).

    I think that overall Apita has better prices than CS.

  6. Thanks for the tips. I guess they won’t be doing another Shinzi Katoh special so soon :(.

  7. Tea

    With so much to do, you have still been able to make your bento AND make it look so aesthetically pleasing! I’m also an undergrad, and no matter how much I love bentos, the only time I have is to look at other ppl’s creations. ^_^;

    btw, I love Coffee Prince!! ^_^b

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