Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ginger Beef & Satsuma-Imo Bento

Technically, a bento is a Japanese lunch that is served in a box (hence bento).  I didn't put mine in a bento box, but you could use this recipe as a room-temperature lunch.  This is also the first time I have ever cooked satsuma-imo, which is a Japanese sweet potato.  Unlike the orange-ish sweet potatoes you're probably accustomed to seeing on the Thanksgiving table covered in marshmallows, satsuma-imo are a creamy yellow color and are, in my opinion, much sweeter.  They're also much smaller than your average sweet potato, unless I somehow picked up little ones when they're really honkin' huge.  In this recipe I didn't add any sauce to the sweet potatoes, but they almost taste as though they've been cooked with sugar.  It was unexpected, but I think I liked it.  Knowing that, however, I think next time I might nix the added sugar in the beef's sauce.  Try it first with the sugar, but if you find it too sweet, you can leave the sugar out next time.

Ginger Beef & Satsuma-Imo Bento


3-4 oz. beef, cut into 3/4 in. cubes
1/4 in. ginger root, pealed and shredded
1 tsp. brown sugar
5 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. mirin
vegetable oil
2 leaves bok choy
1 satsuma-imo
1/4 in. cucumber, seeded
cooked rice
handful of broccoli
sesame seeds (optional, to serve)

Cut the satsuma-imo into 1/2 in. cubes, but don't peel it.  Boil water in a pot, then add the sweet potato.  Boil for 5-6 minutes, or until soft enough for a fork to pierce easily.  Add the broccoli to the pot and boil 1-2 more minutes.  Drain well, but don't rinse.

Heat a little oil in a pan, then add the beef cubes.  Cook for a minute or so, just until the outside changes color.  Mix together the soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and mirin.  Add the sauce to the beef and continue to cook until nearly all of the liquid is absorbed.  The sauce should reduce into a thin glaze on the beef.

Cut the cucumber into 1/4 in. pieces.  Heat up your rice if it is leftover or frozen rice.

To serve, spoon the beef on top of the bok choy leaves, and add the broccoli, sweet potato, and rice.  Separate the broccoli from the satsuma-imo, if desired.  Sprinkle the beef with sesame seeds.

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