Koreanese Bento #27: Ohayo!

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Had a wonderful day in Napa yesterday, culminating in a picnic at V Sattui Winery in St. Helena. This morning I was inspired to bento with some of the leftovers. It’s been ages, and I’d almost forgotten how fun packing a lunch could really be. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Leftover rotisserie chicken, kale salad with a sesame vinaigrette, baby carrots, roasted rosemary almonds and a happy tangerine.

Koreanese Bento #26: Just enough time for a snack

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Potato-and-pea baked samosas with tamarind-date chutney, fresh strawberries and Asian-flavored financiers and madeleines by SweetMue.com.

Not much of a bento …. More like a glorified snack box. But I’m sharing it anyway because it’s not about perfection, right?

For a while I was making bento that were rather time consuming. There’s nothing wrong with that unless, of course, higher standards keep you from making a portable and healthy lunch when you have less time.

I tossed together this snack of leftover samosas, fruit and pastries in less than five minutes, and they’re in a re-used Chinese take out container to boot. So here’s one for the imperfectionist in all of us. Cheers! And happy snacking.

PS: The madeleines and financiers were made by my dear friend fromย SweetMue.com. She’s been blending Asian flavor favorites, such as taro, red bean, green tea and black sesame, into traditional French pastry recipes. Her green tea cream puffs (not pictured) are a personal fave. I am also a big-time fan of her black sesame puffed pastry balls! You can follow her baking adventures on her blog, sweetmue.wordpress.com.

Koreanese Bento #25: The remains of the other day

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Garlic shrimp over fried rice. Baby lettuce salad with tomatoes, cucumber and carrots. Balsamic vinaigrette dressing. And a two-cookie finale!

Went to Tahoe this past weekend and had, by far, the best snow of the season. Of course, it hasn’t been much of a season this year. But it dumped from Saturday night all the way through Monday afternoon, when we headed back down the mountain.

Got home late in the evening, and it’s been go, go, go ever since. Haven’t made it to the grocery store, much less cooked up a decent meal. So this bento was all about improvisation.

Had some leftover rice from the week before, and the remains of the salad ingredients we brought up to the condo, including a vinaigrette I’d hauled there and back in a mason jar.

With the help of some vegetables and ginger out of the freezer, the fried rice got a little color and a pop of flavor. I cooked the frozen shrimp in leftover bacon fat and fresh garlic and then squeezed lemon juice over them at the end.

The cookies, I confess, are not homemade. But the oatmeal raisin cookies I made for the trip were too big for bento fare. Overall, not too shabby for the remains of the other day. ๐Ÿ™‚

Look at all that snow! Kirkwood was adrift in white, and no crowds to boot!

Happy as a clam in the cold, windy weather.

Koreanese Bento #24: So starts the dragon year

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Dragons lair: Three pork and water chestnut dumpling dragons perched on a red-leaf lettuce salad; a flock of carrot birds atop sauteed cucumbers and beef with rice. Fresh berries for a happy ending.

I haven’t made bento in a long, long time. While there are numerous joys of working from home, such as the irrelevance of kimchi breath, it doesn’t make much sense to pack your lunch. In addition, when you do work “out,” it’s usually at a cafe, where toting in your own food would be highly frowned upon!

That said, I’ve been cooped up in the apartment all week with a nasty cold. It began Sunday night and grew worse with each passing day … Finally, with the aid of magical antibiotics and a whole lot of tea, I am just now released from my self-imposed quarantine.

Thought I’d celebrate with a little bento-making. Year of the Dragon, this one’s for you. Hope you are healthier moving forward.

Koreanese Bento #23: Mushroom rice and mozzarella men

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Mixed mushroom rice, salad with mozzarella, a hardboiled egg and berries.

While making my lunch, I realized that my fresh mozzarella balls had little nubs that would make perfect “noses.” So I used black sesame seeds and tiny slivers of red bell pepper to finish out their faces. One face is happy and the other a bit on the cranky side. Menโ€”mozzarella and otherwiseโ€”can be so moody! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Koreanese bento #22: Stinky bento yum

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Teriyaki mushrooms over rice next to fruit and mini chocolate chip cookies; assorted panchan of seasoned spinach, bracken, black beans, spicy fish cake, marinated perilla leaves and dried anchovies.

I normally make my own Korean side dishes, but April has been a crazy month. I’ve been finishing up my master’s project and had little time to belabor my many loves, including cooking. So I went crazy in the pre-made section of the Korean market last week and have been happily transforming my purchases into kim bop, bibim bop and now a bento. Fly out tomorrow to defend. What a relief! I can get back to cooking after that … At least I made the mushrooms from scratch! Happy bento days ahead.

My checkout haul at Kukje Market in Daly City. It's amazing how far $84 can go at the Korean market versus at Whole Foods. I go crazy whenever I shop there, though I have to say their miyok guk tastes sadly nothing like my mom's.

Koreanese bento #21: New day, new box

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Chicken nuggets, grape tomatoes, olives and donkatsu sauce over baby spinach; spring potato, carrot and cucumber salad next to assorted fresh fruit

LunchBots stainless steel series uses no plastics and is dishwasher safe. This is the Duo model, which has, duh, two compartments.

Koreanese bento #20: Making do

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Chicken and apple mini sausages and cucumbers over white rice with peas; cilantro tamagoyaki (omelette roll), steamed cauliflower, grape tomatoes and veggie flowers on a bed of baby spinach leaves.

After an action-packed weekend of friends and family, academics and a capella, my fridge is looking pretty bare. So between my last few eggs, some cilantro on the verge, leftover rice and an old bag of frozen mini-sausages, I cobbled together this bento. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself, though I’m looking forward to going to the grocery store tonight.

Koreanese bento #19: Bento redux

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Steamed pork and shrimp balls on sticks with plain onigiri, blanched orange cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and spring lettuce; assorted fruit includes apple bunnies, blackberries and a tangerine

In a nod to my busy day, yesterday’s pork and shrimp balls have resurfaced in another bento today. This time, I paired them with finger foods and items you could eat by stabbing them with my cute little wooden picks!