Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Lunch Boxes for the Partner

Grilled chicken breast (marinated with yoghurt and harissa) topped with carrots;
a side of grilled zucchini, grapes and quail eggs.

The man takes a lunch box to work about three times a week. The helper sorts that out for him mostly. She has a list of items to roster around to be placed in the lunchbox. Unless he decides he wants something different, then he'll cook it. Looked at my schedule and I decided to be very nice, and took over lunch box duty for a few days this month. Aside from the random dinners at home, thought I'd return the favor at lunch too. The last time I 'cooked for him' at length was uhhh....in 2014. When he heard that, he merrily told me that he wants a lunch box five a days a week. >.< Troll sial!

The man isn't a child. He doesn't need a cute bento box or cartoon-shaped foods to tempt him to eat. But he has got discerning tastebuds. That meant I've got to put some effort into filling up his lunch box. But I'm not willing to slave all day in the kitchen either. Here we go again, quick easy recipes that take under 50 minutes to complete, and a sturdy lunchbox that is spill-proof because it will be thrown all around upside-down. #impieCooks2016

Of course I have help. The helper is a gem. I'm not interested in all that washing, dicing and slicing on my own. Can't avoid dealing with meat since the menu requires variety and proteins. Luckily for someone who really likes good food, the man is an unfussy omnivore. Pots of easy Asian soups, hearty beef stew, and also grilled damn-good in-season lamb chops, etc. Wrinkled my nose at handling chicken and other meats. But at least I don't have to touch it more than necessary.

Now those lunch boxes. Chicken breasts can be done in a variety of styles with different sides. It's a challenge keeping them moist and tender while factoring mild cooking time in the lunchbox. I like a citrus accompaniment to meat. For example, grilled chicken breasts with mango salsa and black turtle beans on a bed of tri-colored quinoa and roasted cauliflower. The marinade for the chicken breasts could be switched around. Marinades are usually pretty quick. Lemon, olive oil, pepper and salt and all the usual stuff. The internet is a treasure trove of recipes and secret ingredients and whatnots.

Besides chicken, fish is good too as an after-gym protein. I only need to consider a side with enough texture and crunch to complement soft fish. Pan-seared fillets of super-fresh sea bream and yasai itame (stir-fried vegetables) are always easy and tasty. Japanese black cod is beautiful in bentō too. One lunch held grilled scallops finished with pink salt flakes, cubes of pumpkin topped with cayenne pepper, and stir-fried shiitake mushrooms with onions, and mixed-grains-rice.

Sambal matah, peppers, chillies and pesto always add an excellent dimension to the lunchboxes. Except I make sambal-anything, harissa, pesto and the sort from scratch. Not keen on bottled sauces or dressing. As annoying as beans and lentils are, I refuse to use the canned ones. I dislike the mushy texture and synthetic taste. I'd rather go through all the effort of boiling them. Well, the man will enjoy this while the cooking streak lasts! Ha!

Seared sea bream topped with spring onions and sambal matah;
a side of grilled eggplant, kidney beans and pomegranate. 


D said...

Wow! They look a lot more sumptuous and colourful than the ones I prepared for my son's school outings! I can copy some ideas from you! But your man doesn't need carbs? My 2 boys at home complaint they don't feel full when there's no carbs.

imp said...

He tends to avoid carbs and can do without it unless it's stew or curry. But in these lunchboxes, there's a thin layer of carbs underneath the fish/chicken and sides in the form of wild rice with grains