Boneless wings (Bento #112)

Lately I’ve been trying to incorporate more spice into my cooking. Hubs and I both love spicy food. Well, hubs likes food so spicy it burns through the fork. The spicy chili tofu from last week came out great so I’ve been wanting to try spicy again.

I saw a beautiful Japanese bento the other day that had, what looked like, boneless buffalo wings. Ever since, I’ve had a huge craving for them so I decided to make some for dinner last night. All I had was frozen chicken breasts so I defrosted, cut them up, salt and peppered, then dredged them in corn starch and fried them in a pan.

I didn’t actually have any buffalo sauce, and to be honest, I didn’t really want the traditional heavily vinegar-ed sauce. I wanted something a little more special. Something with tons of flavor and good amount of heat. So I made my own. Lets just say that hubs actually handed me a piece of paper and told me to write down how I made this sauce, he loved it!

The ingredients for the wing sauce are very similar to the spicy chili tofu, but by playing with the ratios and adding a couple of ingredients, I got a completely different flavor. The basics are Sriracha, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger.

The first special addition is a little bit of a hot sauce called Pyro Mania. Pyro Mania is my favorite hot sauce of all time. It has a great smoky flavor and isn’t so spicy that you can’t use a lot of it at a time.

The second special addition is some super thick and rich coconut milk! The coconut milk completely changed the flavor and heat profile. Without it, the sauce was really good and had an immediate burn and you tasted everything at once. Trying it with the coconut milk, the immediate taste is a buttery slightly coconutty rich flavor. Then you start to taste the peppers and spices. Finally a slow burn creeps up and you get all of the heat.

I was really shocked at how much different the sauce was with the coconut milk. If you make this, try it before and after adding the milk and you’ll understand. If you don’t really like coconut, don’t fret, the flavor doesn’t come through very strong, hubby didn’t even know it was there until I pointed it out. But, the sauce is still good without it.

Naturally, I used out leftovers for today’s bento. The noodles are just pasta tossed with a little bit of tonkatsu sauce for flavor. I also re-purposed the leftover corn. The non-leftover additions are a cute little plum, seaweed salad, and some cucumbers to use as a divider.

Spicy Coconut Wing Sauce

When making this sauce I completely forgot to measure anything. Next time I make it I will update the recipe with the correct amounts, this is just a best guess after the fact.

1/4 cup Sriracha
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp Pyro Mania or other smoky hot sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
1 tbsp butter

1) Add the Sriracha, ketchup, other hot sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and water to a small pot and mix it up. Heat it on medium heat until it begins to bubble then turn the heat down and let it slowly simmer.
2) I let mine simmer for about 10 minutes to bring out the flavors.
3) Add the coconut milk and butter, stir, and let simmer for another 5 minutes.

My sauce thickened very nicely. If it is not as thick as you like you can continue to let it simmer until you get the desired consistency.

I put all of the fried chicken pieces in a large bowl, poured the sauce on top, and tossed to coat.

Added to What’s for Lunch Wednesday!

Happy Bento-ing!

What to do with hotdogs? (Bento #108)

Yesterday was the Twitter Hot Dog Party! What is it? Well, the last Monday of every month has a theme (so far I’ve seen hot dogs, pancakes, tacos, and a couple of others) and anyone who wants to participate follows the #twitter”FOOD”party hashtag (this one was #twitterhotdogparty), makes a dish that fits the theme, posts a photo, and checks out everybody else’s photos too.

The hot dog party was a lot of fun because I saw everything from the most scrumptious hot dogs with amazing toppings to cute little hot dog sushi. If you aren’t on Twitter ... come join us!

My party addition is pictured below...

It is beer braised hot dogs with lotus root on a bed of sauerkraut with spicy sweet potato fries. This recipe is so easy, you have to try it! The hot dogs were super flavorful and the lotus root really gave a great texture addition.

So, how do I go from this dinner to bento?

I started by putting a thin layer of sauerkraut over about 1/3 of the bento (this is the Lunchbots Eco), placed the silicon cup and baran, filled in the open space with salad, filled the silicon cup with kiwi and blackberries, then added as much of the hot dog mixture that I could fit. I’m also sending a little side of salad dressing.

Beer Braised Hot Dogs with Lotus Root

1 package of hot dogs, sliced (I used Hebrew National)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp butter
1 cup of beer (I used Yuengling Lager)
about 10 slices of lotus root, quartered (You can substitute with water chestnuts and get a similar taste and effect)

1) Heat the butter in a pan on medium high heat. Drizzle the Worcestershire sauce over the sliced lotus root so they soak up the flavor. When the butter starts to bubble add the hot dogs, onion, and lotus root. Also add a little salt and pepper.
2) Continue to cook on medium high heat to get the hot dogs nice and brown.
3) When the hot dogs are almost finished add in the garlic (I like my hot dogs really browned so I use quite high heat to sear them which would burn the garlic if I added it at the beginning.)
4) Let cook for another minute then add the beer. Use your spatula or spoon to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan right when the beer is poured in, then put the lid on the pan, turn the heat down so you get a simmer, and let cook for a few more minutes.
5) Serve over a thin bed of sauerkraut. If you don’t like sauerkraut, shredded cabbage (cooked or raw) would be really tasty.

Oven Baked Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potatoes
Vegetable oil
Salt (Kosher sticks better)
Chili powder

1) Peel and slice into sticks as much or as little sweet potato as you think you will eat.
2) Toss potato sticks with a small drizzle of vegetable oil. If you get too much you can drain them on paper towels.
3) Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder then arrange on a cookie sheet.
4) Cook them under the broiler on high on the top or next to top rack of the oven. Watch them close, they go from brown and delicious to charred bits in no time! When they get nice and brown flip them over and get the other side brown as well.

These “fries” are good plain, with ketchup, or my favorite, a mix of 1 part ketchup to 1 part Sriracha Chili Sauce. ^_^

There’s a new sale going on! The nori face punch bundle is on sale!! Not only is it buy 3 get one free, it’s now an extra 10% OFF! Yay! Sale is good until Tuesday Feb 8.

Added this to What’s for Lunch Wednesday.

Happy Bento-ing!

Spicy chili tofu (Bento #107)

The other day hubby and I were pouring hot sauce all over our toasted subs when I realized... we love spicy food but I never cook it! To be honest, I’m not really sure how to cook with hot sauce, I usually use it as a topping. The only spicy food I know how to make is chilli. So I gave myself a challenge and decided that I was going to make some spicy tofu!

I made a dinner that was big enough to have leftovers for bento. The dinner had the spicy chili tofu (recipe(?) below), steamed turnips, snow peas, and sweet potatoes all on a bed of rice with a ball of miso butter.

No, I swear! I didn’t plan this meal around what I could put miso butter on..... I promise!

For the bento I added seaweed salad and apple slices.

I am a total noob at writing recipes, so please, bear with me. ^_^

Spicy Chili Tofu

(I don’t really measure so these numbers are estimates. You can use them as a guideline but make the sauce according to your own tastes.)

1 package of tofu, cubed
1/4 onion, chopped

for the marinade:
1/4 cup sriracha chili sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 chopped garlic clove
1tsp grated ginger

for the glaze:
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp brown sugar
more soy sauce to taste

1) Cube and drain a package of firm tofu. I wrap mine in a super clean kitchen towel to wick out extra moisture.
2) Mix the sauce together in a tupperware container and add tofu. Then add enough water to cover the tofu and mix it up really well. You want all of the tofu submerged to marinate.
3) Let the tofu marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour.
4) Strain the tofu out of the marinade reserving all of the marinade to make the glaze.
5) Heat a pan on medium high heat with a little oil and fry the tofu cubes until they are brown and delicious. Just before they finished cooking I added the onion.
6) Remove the cooked tofu from the pan and pour in all of the reserved marinade. Yes it will hiss and boil, this is a good thing.
7) Let the marinade simmer for about 5 minutes to remove some of the added water.
8) Add the ketchup and brown sugar and let it continue to simmer.
9) The sauce should start thickening pretty good now. Let it simmer until you get the desired thickness. I added a few more dashes of soy sauce at this stage.

When I made my plate I put the tofu cubes on the rice then drizzled the sauce on top.

So, what did hubby think??? “This would be really good..... if it was chicken”. Lol! He loved the sauce, thought it was fantastic! The tofu? Not so much. He just doesn’t care for the texture, he needs something to chew on. Definitely going to try this with chicken!

Happy Bento-ing!