Prepared for Friday, 05/09/08.

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Kimchi bokkeumbap (Kimchi fried rice) topped with fried seafood nugget, which is why you can’t see the rice. Multicoloured seedless grapes and strawberries. Slices of banana bread. Tomato sauce packet for the nugget.

The kimchi and seafood nugget is available in Korean markets/groceries store or good Asian grocery store. Hero is not a fan of kimchi but likes it fried with rice.

I used to live with a Korean, who is forever blessing the kitchen with the aroma of Kimchi. Kimchi is a korean version of ‘bachelor’s fare’ or ‘starving, busy student food’. :p I’m not so much a ‘starving student’ now that Hero is constantly around, but a container of kimchi is always present in the fridge for those occassional hunger pangs. Those times when you feel like eating something but don’t want to cook something elaborate.

Kimchi bokkeumbap is marvelous when you’re trying to get rid of petty leftovers. You know, weird combinations of leftovers that doesn’t go well together individually, but you have it in such a pettily small amount that eating it by itself just won’t cut it.

Basic kimchi bokkeumbap is so easy you can cook it while sleeping. For better result though, it’s best cooked with your eyes wide open. Like any other fried rice recipe it also best cooked with cold or day old rice. Freshly cooked rice is fine, but it just won’t taste as good.

Basically, kimchi bokkeumbap is cooked rice, some oil for frying, and kimchi. You fry the kimchi in oil for a couple of minutes, and then add the cold rice and fry both ingredients together. Ta daaaa!

The ratio of rice to kimchi have to be observed, otherwise your rice will just have the colour but not the flavour. My ratio is usually 1:3 of rice to kimchi but that’s because I’m Malaysian and we Malaysians have tummy of steel for this kind of food. I’m used to very strong flavours. I find 1:2 ratio of rice to kimchi works well, just not enough for me.

Now, the measurement here are in bowls because somehow using the term ‘cup’ sounds erroneous and ridiculous. Whoever eats 1 cup of cooked rice? Even the household cat eats a bowl of rice to be satisfied! (Technically though, a cup of cooked rice is usually equivalent to a decent bowl of rice but don’t mind me).

A full, heaping bowl of rice in this context is enough to feed one person. If you usually need two bowls to stay alive, then you need 4 bowls of kimchi for this recipe. If you insist on using cups, then determined how many cups of rice is enough to feed you, and multiply the ratio here with that number of cups.

For example, if you eat 7 metric cups of cooked rice, then you multiply all the numbers here by 7 to get the measurement of the rest of the ingredients. If you eat three ladleful of rice, then multiply three ladle to every ingredients. If you eat a handful of rice, you need two handful of kimchi and you need to get hungry more. A handful of rice…what is wrong with you?!?

The recipe below is for one individual servings. If you’re serving more, crank up your calculator and start with the serious arithmetic of double multiplying everything. :P

Extremely Simple Kimchi Fried Rice

1 bowl of cooked rice

2 bowls of kimchi

1/3 bowl of diced ham steak

Fried egg(s) cut in strips or shredded (optional)

And pieces of whatever COOKED leftover you decide to throw in ( see note 4)

How to:

  1. Heat oil in the pan
  2. Add in the diced ham and fry until you’re satisfied with the result. :p
  3. Add kimchi and fry for a few minutes. (See note 1)
  4. Add in the cooked rice, and any COOKED leftover into the mix.
  5. Fry until everything is evenly mixed.
  6. Scoop into a plate and garnish with strips of fried eggs, with herbs, with sliced tomatoes…whatever you want, really!

Note:

  1. Kimchi comes in many different types. I find that the vegetable leafy varieties works better than the chunky radish types. I tried this with radish kimchi, it didn’t work so well as with leafy ones.
  2. If your kimchi comes in big leafy pieces, it’s a good idea to cut them to smaller pieces first. Do not spoon the kimchi out on the chopping board and cut like it’s a normal veggie. This oozes out the essential juices you need for that flavour, not to mention the mess it makes! Instead, spoon the desired amount into a bowl or a mug and snip snip snip away with a kitchen scissors. This is also a good therapy/anger management session. Picture that ex that dumped you for that busty hussy. Aaaah, that’s the spirit!
  3. Why did I emphasized COOKED? Because if it’s uncooked, you need to cook it first before you add the diced ham (after step 1, before step 2). You must NOT add any uncooked leftover in step 4. I’m being unnecessary detailed and anal-retentive but I don’t want people to die on me. Simple as that.
  4. Kimchi is already salty so avoid adding salt unless you absolutely must, which I have no idea why one would. Also go easy on the ham or bacon pieces unless you wish to accelerate your chances with high blood pressure. If you really must season it, soy sauce are more forgiving.
  5. Unless you have a Malaysian/Indonesian/Korean/Thai tummy of iron that are used to eating spicy and acidic food, try to avoid eating this before bed or for breakfast. Kimchi is not easy on the tummy.

Also NOT recommended for anyone who have a gastric history and tendency. Even if you cut down the ratio of kimchi to rice, the ingredients in kimchi is still strong enough to wreck havoc to your system.

thursday

Grissini ham sandwich, corn on the cob, two humongous strawberries, cherry tomatoes, sliced carrots, canned frankfurters and wheat water crackers with cheddar cheese.

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Grissinis are usually made in the shape of a thin breadstick, but the one I got was a thick oblong ones. The grissini sat in the fridge for 2 days without purpose in its short life. When I finally get to use it, it was already stale. It was toasted prior, to give it more life, but alas! I had grissini sandwich packed for myself too. When I sank my teeth into it, it felt like I was eating brick sandwich.

That frankfurter surprised me. I am of the opinion that canned food that are originally supposed to be made fresh would taste like Britney Spear’s hind. Surprisingly, it taste more like George Clooney’s kiss…YUM! Hero gave the thumbs up for the crackers-cheese-frankfurters combo. Might have to buy more of those then!

Content: slices of banana bread, colourful seedless grapes, bastardised caesar salad and ravioli bolognaise. Both salad and bolognaise compartment are securely wrapped in Gladwrap so they don’t spill while moving around.

wednesday

The bastardised caesar salad was made of zucchini, carrots, baby corn and brussel sprouts. Look at that mess in the saucepan!

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This whole thing started with Hero telling me he doesn’t like brussel sprouts. I was out to prove to him that it CAN taste good but he didn’t believe me. So I went, “that’s it! Brussel sprouts for tomorrow’s smoko!” So I set about making a concoction of leftovers that includes the said brussel sprouts.

How can anyone not like brussel sprouts? You sautee it with olive oil and garlic, and a dash of balsamic vinegar and you’re good to go. But I didn’t want to horrify Hero by just serving him brussel sprouts just like that so I made it into a cold salad. It was an experiment, but it turned out really well. Mix with croutons just before serving and dressed with Caesar dressing. Yum yum.

If Hero can be converted, so can you!

Bastardised Brussel Caesar Salad

A handful of brussel sprouts

A handful of baby corn

One small zucchini, sliced half centimetre thick and quartered

One carrot, cut however you like

Olive oil

Minced/crushed garlic

Juice of half a lemon

Preparing brussel sprouts

Wash, cut the stems and remove the outer leaves. Cut into quarter.

Bring salted water to boil, and then dump those damn brussel sprouts into the boiling water. Boil until the hard part becomes tender. (how’s that for vagueness?). Colander and plunge in cold water.

Preparing zucchini

If you like your salad squishy liquidy, you can skip this step. Zucchini has high content of water, so you need to draw that water out so that you get crisp, satisfactorily biteable pieces.

To do that, rub salt unto the zucchini and leave them that way for at least 30 minutes. When you’re ready to use them, rinse them thoroughly with water unless you like all that salt in your food.

To actually make that damn salad, after all your explanations. Get on with it already!

Olive oil + crushed/minced garlic until aromatic. In goes the cooked brussel sprouts. Stir, stir, stir and make yourself feel like a big bad chef. Then pretty much just throw everything else in there.

Drizzle with juice of half a lemon and balsamic vinegar. You can always skip the balsamic vinegar if you don’t have them. I don’t think it makes that much of a difference!

Then season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve

You can eat it just like that warm. Or you can be a good girl/boy and pop it in the fridge until you really need it. Pour in croutons just before serving and then dress with caesar salad dressing.

Why?

Cos I find that it’s better eaten cold, that’s why!

Bentofriday

Leftover spaghetti+pasta bolognaise that Hero made for dinner last night.

A small handful of seedless grapes, two strawberries sliced and one small carrot roughly julienned.

As I wrote before, I bought two new Lock & Lock containers–a 470ml for carbs and a 550ml for snacks/fruits/veggies. When I first bought it, I just eyeballed the 550ml and guessed whether or not it can contain enough food to satisfy me. I thought it wouldn’t, thus the purchase of another 470ml container.

But I felt after my lunch was packed, that  the 470ml contains too much pasta for me. As a test, I pour the content into my usual pasta/noodle bowl. Eating a full content of this bowl is usually enough to satiate me a bit more than I can bear.

I took my measuring cup and see how much my bowl can fit normally. 437ml liquid to the brim (1 3/4 cup). Translating that roughly to measure solid food, I’d say it can contain about 1 1/4 cup of chunky solids (318ml). So if I can be satiated with a 318ml meal, 470ml will explode me.

After transferring the spaghetti+pasta from the smaller container, there were a fair bit left. So I ate that for breakfast with one banana and orange juice.

See, I’m starting to eat more healthily since we started the lunchpacking habit!

The spag+pasta bog was sooooo good. Unlike my pasta meals, Hero’s one was still moist and soft when I ate it the day after this was packed. Had I done it myself, my pasta would have been hard and sticky by now. Hero makes better spag/pasta meal and meat sauce than I do. Like he said, “it’s bachelor’s fare, baby! I can pull it off!” :)

Always packing lunch for your knight in shining armor will pay itself in time.

Proof?

Right now I’m battling with Finance subject and my Hero is downstairs, cooking us dinner + preparing my lunchbox for tomorrow morning. He’s having his 2 days off so he doesn’t mind taking over domestic work from me. That’s why I love him so madly! He’s the kind of man that goes, “Alright baby, it’s your turn to be busy so I’ll hang out in the kitchen, bang pots and pans, serve dinner and clean up!”. He’s a gem, that guy. :)

(He’s making spaghetti bolognaise as I type this in the study…and oh boy, the smell…the smell…it’s amazing.)

The Lock & Lock container I bought him is awesome and magical…it has even transformed my hunky, strappy man into a believer of packed lunch. I was at my own place Tuesday night so I wasn’t around to pack him lunch for him on Wednesday morning.

Usually when that happens he just can’t be bothered and will buy lunch instead. But since the existence of that magic container in this household, he has been packing his own lunch although by his own admission it’s not up to par with what I pack him. :P “I had to pack my own lunch this morning,” he said in mock woeful, sulky tone.

I thought the described content was pretty impressive. He had sliced tomatoes in the first compartment, nuts in the second one, canned tuna in another and sliced ham in the last one. He packed a few slices of breads on the side so he made fresh sandwich for lunch.

A sandwich pack…what a great idea! How come I never thought of that? (Answer: not a big sandwich fan)

He reported that since my lunchbox movement in our household, there is now a ‘lunchbox’ competition thing going on between them at work.

“He brought an esky with a Kan Tong sauce, a jar of dip, some chips, a banana…I was like, ‘fuck, are you that hungry?’” Hero was saying about one of the guys.

(Note: Esky is a generic term for any portable coolers here, although it is an actual brand name for a company that sells portable coolers).

I went to House again and bought myself two Lock & Lock container. I couldn’t find one that was optimum for me—the ones with compartment were either too large or too small. So I bought one small single 470ml (left) and one medium two-compartment 550ml (right).

(Or chocolates). :p

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My 470ml will hold my carbs and the 550ml will hold my veggies and fruit.

How is it possible that it all Queen St Mall, only House have the Lock & Lock that sort of wanted? I wanted a different one but they don’t have the specific ones I was looking for so I bought the closest alternative. 

They were none in Target, not even any compartmentalized lunchbox. Robin’s Kitchen doesn’t carry Lock & Lock products and Myer store only has the single, non-compartmentalized Lock & Lock containers (it is MUCH pricier in Myer too!).

Finally, after one year of packing my man off with boring sandwiches, the occasional fried rice (with nothing else!) and pies and sausage rolls, I’ve decided it’s high time I should get into the bento crowd and pack my deserving man a proper, wholesome, healthy lunch.

I would like to warn everyone in advance that the photo quality are very, very low. I’m taking these with my Nokia 6630 1.3 MP camera (yes, show me your sympathy) since I’ve procrastinate buying a digital camera. Everytime I intend to buy one, I get distracted and blow my cash on something completely unrelated. :(

Anyway, I present to you, my Hero’s first ever proper lunch-approved bento!

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This pic quality is soooo bad! Not to mention the shadow…ugh. Bear with me…

Rice and cashew chicken as his main lunch. Celery sticks and roughly julliened carrots for him to munch on. I think Hero was a rabbit in previous life, the way he goes through carrots. We buy around 2 bags of those every week. Strawberries and seedless grapes for snacks.

I packed another small container of rice because I don’t think the amount of rice contained in that compartment is enough to satisfy my man’s appetite.

Preparation time: 30 minutes the night before. I made that cashew chicken for dinner but halfway through both of us weren’t feeling hungry anymore (we’ve been munching on fruits while packing away groceries and I cook). So while I was cooking, I cut the fruits and veggies and just added the rice and cashew chicken once they’re done. I spread the rice and chicken on a separate plate to cool first though. I refrigerated it packed.

Packed in his new 870 litres Lock &Lock container, the container that started me bento-ing for my strappy man in earnest. I got it from House in Brisbane’s Queen St Mall. The Lock & Lock container cost me $21.95 so effectively I can’t splurge until maybe the next two weeks. Was it worth it? Absolutely. If I’m calculative and start keeping tracks on how much my man spends on me, spending $21.95 on him is a joke, really.

Hero’s reaction on sighting his first proper bento—“Oh wow, that’s the s**t, baby!” (note: this is a positive statement). He was soooo pleased and happy with his bento. He came home reporting that “the lads were very impressed with my lunchbox, baby”. I didn’t even asked how his lunch went, he just told me himself a few minutes after he stepped inside the house.

SCORE!

Although I’ve just started bento-ing for real recently, I’ve always packed lunch for him, albeit very simple, boring fare like sandwich, sausage rolls and fried rice. A full proper lunch must have been very sensational for him and everyone else who saw it. I’m home to spend the night at my own place today. When I told Hero, he gasped in mock horror, “What am I going to have for smoko tomorrow?!?” :P So pretty safe to say this is going to be a very regular occurrences then!

I hardly pack lunch for myself. I work in food retail so my lunches are usually provided for. However, while packing bento for Hero, there were some leftover fruits that have been prepped but could not fit into his container anymore. After completing his bento, I found out I have enough to make a small snack pack for myself so I just collected all the leftovers and put them into a small container.

So here’s my bento. Fruit snack pack: seedless grapes, strawberries, carrots and mini babybel light cheese.

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I don’t like cheese but I need my calcium. I don’t have enough of it per day as we speak and I’m on high risk for osteoporosis. I stopped drinking milk since 5 years old…and only started drinking milk again when I turned 22. That was last year, so I’m really behind my calcium intake!

I had them for breakfast today before going to work. With Milo and oatmeal, and one banana. Woo! I don’t mind it…I might even make it a practice. :P

So maybe I’ll get my own Lock & Lock soon…

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