Bacon Bento Box

Submitted by Jodi Taffel

About the cook: I'm a home cook with a passion for cooking and contests who's cooling her heels during this Shelter In Place quarantine with no outlet for my culinary curiosity other than my kitchen, the internet and the capacity of my honey's tummy. Oh, what I wouldn't give to have a house full of people to cook for right now!

About the dish: OK, I'll admit it. I'd had WAY too much coffee that day. And my energy level was through the roof. So rather than wake my honey from a deep slumber, I went into the kitchen, foraged through the fridge, freezer and the pantry, and came up with this dish. And FYI, when I took it to work for lunch the next day, I was definitely the talk of the break room! Good thing there were 5 more portions in the fridge at home! Inside the bento box (which was deep deep inside a cupboard in a long forgotten, dust covered section) is: A Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Bacon Bao Bun, Crispy Tamari Rice w/Avocado & Toasted Pepitas, Field Green Salad w/Cucumber, Cherry Tomato & Ginger Scallion Relish, and Oatmeal Raisin Skillet Cookies

National Origin: Japan

Serves: 6

Estimated Time: 1 to 2 Hours


For Bacon Bao Buns:
1 pound slab bacon
1 cup blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar
2 cups elderberry wine
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup dried tarragon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 cup sweet pickle slices
1 radish
6 folded bao steam buns

For Field Green Salad:
1 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/4 cup ginger paste
1/4 cup grape seed oil
3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups mixed field greens
1 cucumber
6 cherry tomatoes

For Crispy Tamari Rice:
3 cups prepared sushi rice (I buy the kind you just pop in the microwave for 1-2 minutes)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup tamari
1 avocado
1 tablespoon roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

For Oatmeal Raisin Skillet Cookie:
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup raisins


For Bacon Bao Buns:
Add the balsamic vinegar, elderberry wine, sherry vinegar, apple cider vinegar, tarragon, ground ginger and garlic powder to a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven and whisk to combine.
Slice the slab bacon into 6 pieces and nestle into the pot with the marinade.
Cover the pot and set over medium high heat for 30 minutes.
Steam folded bao buns in a bamboo steamer set over a pot of boiling water until soft (1-2 minutes).
Slice radish as thinly as possible.
Once bacon comes out of the pot, place one piece inside each bao bun. Top with a few slices of pickle and radish.

For Field Green Salad:
Mix scallion, ginger paste, grape seed oil, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, sesame oil and kosher salt together until well combined.
Slice cucumber as thinly as possible.
Slice each cherry tomato into 6 wedges.
Arrange field greens in each bento box and place 6 cucumber slices in a circular flower petal shape on top.
Top each cucumber slice with 1 cherry tomato wedge.
Place a spoonful of ginger scallion relish in the center of each flower.

For Crispy Tamari Rice:
Form rice into 12 equally sized rectangles.
Melt butter in a skillet and grill rice rectangles until lightly browned on both sides.
With a pastry brush, brush tamari on both sides of each rice rectangle and grill an additional 30 seconds on each side.
Slice avocado and place 2 slices on top of each rice rectangle.
Top avocado with a few pepitas.

For Oatmeal Raisin Skillet Cookie:
Cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth.
Beat in the egg and vanilla until fluffy.
Stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
Gradually combine butter mixture, egg mixture and flour mixture.
Stir in oats and raisins.
Drop by teaspoons full into an ungreased skillet and cook 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown.

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