For a change of pace, today’s featured bento box is actually a lunch for me and not for Saba Man. It has some of my favorites, black mushrooms and gai lan (Chinese broccoli) which I could eat all day long. So yummy. Fried tofu, brown rice, roasted onions, tamagoyaki and some freshly sliced tomatoes fill out the rest of the box. It’s a big lunch and I will probably need a nap after consumption to aid in digestion.
The Chinese black mushrooms I think are the same as shiitake? And for this recipe, I used the large dried mushrooms for their intense flavor, rehydrated and simmered in the same liquid along with garlic, shoyu and sesame oil. When the liquid is reduced I add the gai lan and continue cooking until they are tender. The combination of soft earthy mushrooms with the slight bite of the gai lan is wonderful. When not packed in a bento box, I use this same recipe as a topping on a ramen bowl.
I’m not bragging, but feel fortunate to live in a very diverse region where I do take advantage of purchasing ready-to-eat items like the fried tofu. Before packing in the box, I parboiled it to remove any excess oil, then simmered in shoyu and mirin for extra flavor. If you fry your own tofu, make sure you thoroughly drain and squeeze all the moisture out before you add it to the hot oil. I don’t like to fry so in most cases, I just buy tofu already cooked and the brand I choose comes in different flavors, such as onion and spicy pepper!