One of the things that I love about Japan is that their restaurants openly acknowledge that most women don’t eat as much as men. Many restaurants have special “Ladies’ Sets” on their menus with smaller portion sizes. I can never imagine this happening in the politically correct US!
One of my favorite cookbooks is a perfect example of Japanese being unapologetic about gender stereotypes in food and portions. It’s called Bento that Make Men Happy, 男の子のよろこぶお弁当. The cover shows a bento with a large portion of fried chicken. All of the recipes in here star large, meaty, protein heavy meals. You know, stuff men like to eat! 🙂 While I am definitely not a man, I really like these bentos too!
Today’s recipe comes from this book. It’s called “Dry Curry Omu-rice.” Basically, it’s rice topped with curry powder flavored meat sauce and an omelette. If you’ve had omu-rice, it’s similar, except the sauce is dryer, it’s flavored with bell pepper and curry powder, and is not mixed in with the rice.
If you have a food processor, you can probably make this in less than 10 minutes. If not, it’ll depend on how long it takes you to mince vegetables. Bento are made to be served at room temperature, so the seasonings will probably taste strange or a little “off” if you try them while they’re hot. Don’t refrigerate this bento, because the rice will get dried out and gross. If it’s really hot where you live (I’m jealous! It’s cold here!) you can add a cold pack next to the bento box to keep everything out of the “danger zone” to prevent bacteria growth.
Portion Sizes: This recipe makes one bento for a hungry large portion eater. When I make this for myself, I usually reduce the curry recipe by 1/4.
Dry Curry Omu-rice Bento:
Start with an empty bento with your desired amount of rice! If you feel really sleepy after eating this, then it was probably too much rice!
For the Curry:
1/2 Large European or American Green Bell Pepper (or 1 Japanese Piman), minced
1/8 Large White Onion, minced
2 Centimeters of a Really Fat Carrot (2 cm, or 1 inch diameter), minced
50 Grams ( 1/10 lb) mixed ground beef and pork
2 Tablespoons Ketchup
1/2 Teaspoon Curry Powder
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Pepper
First: Combine meat and vegetables in a frying pan and cook on high heat until the meat is mostly not pink. Don’t add any cooking oil, the meat will release oil as it cooks.
Second: Add the remaining ingredients, and cook on medium high until the liquid from the ketchup is gone. Remove from heat, and layer over rice in a thin layer.
For the Omelette:
1 Large Egg
1 Pinch Pepper
1 Pinch Salt
1 Teaspoon Butter
First: Beat together egg, salt, and pepper.
Second: Add butter to clean frying pan on medium to high heat, and wait until it melts. (To test if the temperature is right, add a small amount of egg. It should cook on contact.) As soon as it has melted, add the egg mixture. As soon as it hits the pan, give it a quick stir. Then, using a rubber spatula, gently roll the omelette onto itself. Tilt the pan if you need to, to make this easier.
Third: Remove omelette from heat and place over dry curry layer.
1/2 Baby Cucumber (about 4 cm, or 2 inches)
4 cm Celery (about 2 inches) (optional)
1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar (more authentic) or Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Pinch Salt
First: Slice vegetables about 5 mm thin (a little bit under 1/4 inch)
Second: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Or put in a small tupperware container with a lid and shake it up. Put in a small cupcake paper or silicone, to separate it from the rest of the food. If your bento box is not going to be carried upright, wrap them in saran wrap, or package them separately, so they don’t get vinegar in everything else.
It’s done!!!! Have a wonderful day and eat your bento for lunch!
In case anyone is curious about the original recipe and cookbook, it’s here.