Photo © 2010 Makiko Doi from The Just Bento Cookbook published by Kodansha International
Chicken and Three-Color Pepper Stir-Fry Bento
Recipes © 2010 Makiko Itoh from The Just Bento Cookbook published by Kodansha International
This beginner bento is made with everyday ingredients that you may already have in your pantry. It can be assembled in twenty minutes or less without any advance preparation.
Chicken and Three-Color Pepper Stir-Fry (recipe below)
Instant Cabbage and Cucumber Pickles (recipe below)
Basic White Rice
For the Chicken Stir-Fry
1/2 Tbsp olive or other vegetable oil
3 Tbsp roughly chopped green onion
2 tsp peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1/3 each medium-sized red, green, and yellow sweet peppers, de-seeded and cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) chunks
salt, for sprinkling
2 oz (60 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) chunks
black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp soy sauce
lettuce or shiso leaves used as dividers, optional
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the green onion and ginger and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes until the oil is fragrant. Turn the heat up to the highest setting and add the peppers to the pan. Stir-fry with a spatula or long chopsticks. Sprinkle in some salt–this draws out moisture from the vegetables and cooks them a bit faster. Continue stir-frying for 4-5 minutes, until the peppers are cooked.
Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan, and add the chicken to the exposed bottom. Leave for a couple minutes, then turn over to cook the other side. Stir everything together, and add the black pepper and soy sauce.
Turn the stir fry from the pan onto a cool plate so that it cools rapidly. When cooled, pack into the bento box, using the lettuce or shiso leaves as a divider.
Make Ahead Note: Cut up the vegetables and chicken the night before, so everything is ready to just cook. Be sure to keep the raw chicken stored separately from the vegetables for safety.
For the Cabbage and Cucumber Pickles
1 large green cabbage leaf
2 inch (5 cm) length English cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 tsp sea salt
squeeze lemon juice
Cut out the tough vein of the cabbage leaf and slice the rest into strips. Sprinkle the cabbage and cucumber with salt, and massage well with your hands until the vegetables go limp. Let rest for at least five minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice.
Squeeze out any excess moisture before packing into a bento box. To prevent the mingling of flavors, put the pickles into a small container or cupcake liner before adding to the box.
To Assemble Bento Box
1. Pack the rice tightly into up to half the bento box.
2. Fill half to two-thirds the box with the chicken stir-fry. Use a divider or a lettuce leaf to separate the rice from the stir-fry.
3. Add the small container of the pickles.
4. Fill in any gaps with broccoli florets and/or cherry tomatoes.