A Simple Lunch

Tofu salad and stir-fry

Lately, I’ve been working on some writing that is not for this blog, and it’s been consuming a great deal of my time.  There are days when I’m so busy tapping away at the computer that I almost forget to eat lunch.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I realized it had been hours since breakfast and stumbled into the kitchen, weak-kneed and lightheaded.

After staring into the fridge for a few minutes, ideas for two dishes began to take shape: one would be a bold stir-fry, the other a cool, refreshing salad.

I pulled out some leftover pork belly, a mildly hot green pepper, ginger, half a leek, silken tofu, some miso, and a packet of red pickled ginger.  From the cabinet, I retrieved ground toasted sesame seeds, mirin, sake, shoyu, and sesame oil.  On the counter were garlic and a container of tiny, sweet cherry tomatoes.  I grabbed those, too.

Then I set to work chopping, slicing, mincing, and mixing.

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Today’s Bento

Edamame bento box

New potato, fresh edamame, and scallion salad with lemon and olive oil. Plus sweet summer tomatoes, spicy pickled eggplant, and a soy sauce egg.

As Harris Salat noted recently on The Japanese Food Report, it’s the season for edamame.  Every produce shop and grocery store here is selling large bunches of the beans, which are often still attached to their roots and stems. When fresh, their flavor is superb – very “beany,” for lack of a better word.  You can almost taste the minerals in them.

Simply boiled in salted water, they make a great summer snack with a tall glass of cold beer.  In fact, I happen to have a can of Yebisu (owned by the venerable Sapporo brewery) sitting in my tiny fridge, so dinner tonight may be just that, plus whatever odds and ends are lying about.

However, I also love edamame in salads, especially when paired with other legumes, fresh herbs, and alliums. Last night I decided to make an edamame-centric salad for my bento box lunch.  Some basil and purple shiso would’ve been nice additions, but those plants are three hours away in Matsumoto. Instead, I made do with some lemon zest and plenty of black pepper.  That was fine, because it allowed the flavor of the fresh beans to stand out.  The salad is so simple and adaptable that you don’t really need a recipe, but I’ve written up my version anyway. See below for more!

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