Today’s featured bento boxes are filled with nimono, or Japanese simmered dish. I don’t think there are hard rules on what foods can be placed in nimono, but it’s safe to say that items must hold their shape or in other words, not disintegrate during the cooking process. This nimono batch contains some basics such as carrots and eggs and depending on your own geographic location, the other items may or maynot be a bit more exotic. These are renkon (lotus root), satoimo (taro), bamboo shoots, black fungus and shiitake. This particular nimono was made with vegetarian dashi–that is, no fish was involved in the making of the broth. If this meal was specifically for Saba Man, I would of use a bonito based dashi, but my intention was to make a large batch that would feed both of us for a couple days. And I’m not embarrassed to say that I have a stash of commercially prepared vegetarian dashi packets just for these occasions.
I would like to note that my measurements are not exact, I generally don’t break out the measuring cups for recipes I’ve cooked over the years. It’s how I was taught. I add and take away according to taste. More salty, then I add a bit more shoyu etc. In the future, I’ll make a conscious effort to take notes while I’m cooking.
1 packet of dashi (regular or vegetarian)
1/4 cup of shoyu
2 cups of water
mirin to taste
1 teaspoon of sweetener such a sugar, honey or brown rice syrup
handful of dried shiitake mushrooms pre-soaked in water
2 rough chopped carrots
handful of peeled satoimo
handful of sliced renkon ( I used frozen)
1 can of drained sliced bamboo shoots (fresh or frozen is better, if you have access)
half a handful of dried black fungus pre-soaked in water and cleaned of grit.
4 large boiled and peeled eggs
Combine all the liquids and sweetener in a heavy pot and heat to slow simmer. Add all the items except the eggs. Keep the pot covered and you can stir it occasionally but not necessary if the liquid covers most of the food. Ideally you would use a drop lid that fits right on top of the items to keep them submerged. When you can pierce one of the satoimo easily. Add the peeled boiled eggs. You do this last because over cooking turns eggs rubbery. Just get them in there to soak up some flavor and color. That’s it.
As always, drain and cool before packing in your bento box.
The large Saba Man sized bento box above also has brown rice with umeboshi and sliced cucumber with toated sesame seeds. The smaller bento box below is for me and I opted for some orange sweet potatoes intead of rice.