破れた約束で作ったお弁当 Bento of Broken Promises

For the last month or so, I have been trying my best to only use recipes from the first Japanese cookbook I ever bought. For a while, it was going pretty good! I kicked my habit of buying a new cooking magazine every month, and because I wasn’t using the internet to search for recipes, I saved a lot of time and energy. Everything was going well – until today! 

Today I was flipping through one of my old cookbooks that I haven’t used in a long time, when I came across this recipe for deep-fried salmon coated in sesame seeds. I wanted to try making this recipe the moment I saw it. Even though I knew that I shouldn’t use this recipe because it is not from my first Japanese cookbook, I ended up making it because I thought it looked so delicious and easy to make!

After lightly salting the salmon, waiting 10 minutes, then patting it dry with a paper towel, I put the salmon in a marinade of 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon each of sake and mirin for about an hour.  

Next I wiped the marinade off the salmon pieces, dusted them with flour, and dipped them in egg white. Then I rolled three pieces of salmon in white sesame seeds, and three pieces in black sesame seeds. After letting the salmon rest for a little while, I deep-fried them for four minutes until golden brown. 

Next, I wanted to make something using these sweet potatoes from our garden and some leftover thin-sliced pork belly in the freezer. 

When I flipped through the same cookbook I used for the sesame coated salmon, I found the perfect recipe – yet again! I didn’t have enough pork, so I reduced all the ingredients by half.

First I pan fried the sweet potatoes in half a tablespoon of oil until they turned golden brown, then I added the pork and continued frying until the meat had changed color.

Next I added 1 cup of dashi broth and 1 tablespoon of sake. After bringing it to a boil, I turned the heat to low, put on a drop lid, and simmered it for 10 minutes. Then I added 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and continued simmering for another 2 minutes.

After that, I added 1 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce, put the drop lid back on and simmered for another 10 minutes. Finally, I added half a tablespoon of mirin plus some parboiled green beans and simmered it for another minute or so. 

Despite the long simmering time the sweet potatoes didn’t fall apart at all – I think it may be because I pan fried them in oil beforehand. 

I found the final recipe on my favorite website! I promised not to use the internet to search for recipes, but I had no idea what to make with the octopus, bean sprouts and nira (garlic chives) in the fridge. When I searched for these three ingredients on the website, however, right away I found this stir fry flavored with Worcestershire sauce and black pepper. Searching for recipes on the internet is really convenient!

I sliced half an onion and fried it with the bean sprouts in half a tablespoon of oil over high heat. Then I added thin-sliced boiled octopus, nira, 3/4 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1/6 teaspoon of salt, and quickly fried all the ingredients together. Finally, I added plenty of fresh ground pepper. 

I am ashamed to say that I broke a few promises that I made to myself in order to make this lunch box. Two of today’s recipes came from a different cookbook than the one I promised to use, and for the third recipe, I resorted to my old habit of looking up recipes on the internet. One thing that I am proud to say, is that although I broke a few rules, I didn’t spend any money on new cookbooks or magazines. Now that is one promise I vow not to break!  


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