A special post today (no, it’s not just about the blue background)!
One of my classmates, Aki, has been quite intrigued by the bentos I bring to school and suggested that the two of us should do a “bento-swap” together. The idea here is that we will trade our lunches. Despite the horrid weather condition, we finally realized our plan on Friday and met up on campus for lunch. So for this week’s update, I bring you two bentos made by two girls with very different cooking practices.
My Bento for Aki
(Green salad with dressing, mixed bean salad, tonkatsu, and rice)
It had been a long time since I prepared a bento for someone else, and I decided to serve Aki tonkatsu, a longtime favourite of mine. Call me crazy, but I think katsu just has that “stage presence” that turns an otherwise ordinary bento into an extraordinary one. I don’t particularly enjoy standing in the kitchen with my disheveled hair, heating up a pot of oil, and frying pork first thing in the morning; however, I think tonkatsu is worth the work. I mean, it’s fried pork chops!
To top it off, I drizzled over some kewpie mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce. Mmmm…
Not wanting to overwhelm my bento partner with the pork and the fat, I prepared some lighter, and vegetarian, side dishes. My goal these days is to abide by the “two plus one” principle, in which I will include two vegetable-based dishes and one meat dish to accompany the usual rice. For the bean salad, I seasoned the beans with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and parsley on Thursday to give the flavours time to develop overnight. The green salad is served with a citrus-soy dressing, and I was pretty happy that I finally had the chance to use my tomato-shaped sauce container.
Aki’s Bento for Me
(Cherry tomatoes, ham and asparagus rolls, takikomi gohan, and iri tamago)
The takikomi gohan was made by cooking regular rice with shrimp, garlic, and ginger (I can’t remember if Aki mentioned any other seasonings). Cooking rice with additional ingredients is a brilliant way to flavour rice and is a technique that I look forward to incorporating into my own menu. Aside from the toasted sesame seeds, Aki also sprinkled over some iri tamago, which was basically sweetened scrambled eggs.
This was the first time that someone prepared a homemade bento for me, and I must say that I enjoyed the experience a lot. The tastes of Aki’s bento were gentle and subtle, qualities that I want to strive for in my own cooking. You see, I am the type who tend to indulge themselves with powerful flavours and fat chunks of meat. Obviously, this does not bode well for my stomach, arteries, and kidneys, among other vital body parts. The preference for strong flavours can also be a reflection of my personality, but if that’s the case, I’d rather mellow out and stop stressing over “worldly matters.”
With the success of this week’s bento swap, the two of us have decided to do this on a more regular basis. I can’t wait to see how the upcoming bentos will turn out!