This week, Red Tractor has challenged a variety of bloggers to bust out some of their favourite recipes using Red Tractor products. I thought I’d share with you a great, zesty turkey mince recipe that you can pop in a bento or lunch box, or cook for a main course or starter!
Who would have thought that Narita airport would be full of tempting bento boxes? On a trip to Tokyo, I was resisting the urge to buy hundreds of new ones until I spotted a branch of Mono Comme Ca in the airport’s shopping complex, which had a fairly large range of bento boxes. I picked up this black onigiri box and the red chopstick holder you see here, plus a black chopstick case and a pink two-tier box. These boxes are really high quality, though a bit on the pricey side. I honestly can’t remember how much they were, though!
Inside my bento I’ve packed three onigiri with different furikake, a spicy Thai mince with lettuce leaves, and some lovely strawberries. The spicy Thai mince is delicious – for a party, make canapes or starters by pouring this mince into small lettuce leaves (Gem is the best!).
Recipe for spicy Thai mince
- Cooking oil
- ½ inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 red chillies, deseeded and julienned
- 500g turkey mince
- 1 tsp light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 fresh, shredded lime leaves
- Iceberg lettuce
- Little Gem lettuce
- 2 shallots, finely sliced
- 1 extra lime for cutting into decorative slices
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
- Heat a little cooking oil in your pan and fry the ginger, garlic and half the chillies for one minute, or until they become fragrant.
- Add the mince and break it up as you cook, continuing to stir until it is slightly golden.
- Sprinkle over the sugar, and add the fish sauce, lime juice, the shredded lime leaves and the rest of the chilli, saving some for a garnish. Cook for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved and has made a sticky sauce. The mince should be dry when finished.
- To serve, pour the mince into a bowl lined with lettuce leaves, topped with the shallots, coriander, lime slice and some reserved chillies.
Like many of my recipes, you can use this to make around four adult bentos, or cook half for dinner and save the rest for your lunch. The mince is equally delicious hot or cold.
This bento is packed with leftover Spanish omelette from dinner the day before. It’s just as delicious cold the next day, and I love it with dill pickles.
Here’s the Spanish Omelette recipe!
- 3 large potatoes
- 200g ham
- 100g frozen peas
- 50g oak smoked / sundried tomatoes
- 4 eggs
- Salt and pepper
- Cheddar cheese
- Peel the potatoes and slice thinly. Wash to remove the starch, then fry vey lightly in olive oil to ensure the potato is slightly sealed and won’t stick.
- Then remove to a microwave dish, cover and cook until tender. This is the cheat’s method for getting your potatoes completely soft without creating a crispy crust or sticking together and breaking apart. That way, they’ll be soft and melt into the egg when you bite into it.
- Crack the eggs into a jug, then add the chopped ham, tomatoes and peas. Mix.
- Add the hot potatoes to the egg, mix around, then return to the pan.
- Once the bottom is well set, grate some cheddar cheese onto it and pop it in the oven on a low temp until set.
- Then remove, leave for a few minutes and slice.
This will serve two for dinner with a portion left over for a bento, or will make around four large bento portions.
These are seriously the most delicious spring rolls I have ever eaten, so I’m really excited to share the recipe with you – I hope you get a chance to try them out and fall in love too! Forget soggy beansprouts and weird gloopy sauce, these spring rolls are a meal in themselves – because you won’t be able to stop eating them once you start…
You can freeze these ahead of when you want to eat them, but you should thaw them before deep frying. Just prepare the filling and roll up the wrappers, then pop in a single layer in your freezer. The ones pictured are normal size, but for bentos buy a large packet of spring roll wrappers and then cut them into quarters for cute mini spring rolls!
- 1 pack large spring roll wrappers
- 2 chicken breasts, shredded
- 75g cooked prawns, cut into small pieces
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- 100g bean sprouts
- 75g grated carrot
- 50g grated onion
- 3 square centimetres fresh ginger finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
- Pinch chilli flakes (optional)
- Oil to stir fry and deep fry
- Mix together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, sesame seed oil and chilli flakes.
- Heat your wok to a medium heat. Stir-fry the chicken in 1 tbsp oil until it’s white, then reserve and drain. Remove excess moisture from your wok and heat some more oil.
- Fry the ginger for 30 seconds, then add the garlic, frying for one minute. Add the grated onion and spring onion and cook until it has softened. Watch your temperature here – you don’t want to brown the ingredients. If the wok gets too hot, remove it from the burner for a few seconds.
- Add the carrots, bean sprouts and prawns and cook until the bean sprouts are slightly translucent.
- Pour on the beaten egg and mix. When the egg has solidified, add the soy sauce mixture and the egg and mix thoroughly. There should be no excess liquid – all the seasoning and egg should cling to the ingredients. Leave to cool.
- To assemble your spring rolls, place your spring roll wrapper diagonally on the work surface and fill the corner nearest to you with a tablespoon of mixture.
- Pull the corner up over the top and then roll twice – you should now be roughly to the centre of the wrapper.
- Fold the two corners in to the middle and then continue to roll it up, sealing the end with water – this is vital or your roll will pop open when you fry it.
- Now for the deep frying – at this point it’s probably best to say that deep frying can be very dangerous – if you’re concerned, then use a deep fat fryer at 170 degrees centigrade to cook your spring rolls. Heat the oil in a pan. Test the heat by adding a spring roll – if it sizzles and the oil bubbles around it vigorously, you have it right.
- Cook on each side for a couple of minutes, then drain. If your rolls go dark brown too quickly, turn your heat down.
- You can make a dipping sauce with light soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar to taste. Add chilli flakes, chopped spring onions or a slug of sesame seed oil for a special touch.
I’m one of those weird people who gets all funny about ketchup. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but I have certain rules about it – which I’ve never really examined in too much depth, to be honest. For example, it is never to be squirted onto food – makes it soggy. Better to go on the side, by itself, so it can be dipped into. Also, it is never to be mixed in with things to create some hideous Frankenfood of soggy ketchup and ‘other stuff’. That’s just wrong.
So, with that in mind, it’s very strange that one of my most favourite and comforting foods should be omurice: the dish that breaks my cardinal food rules and somehow manages to rise above its offence:
Omurice is basically rice and veggies cooked with some ketchup, then coated in an omelette and served with another drizzle of ketchup on top. It’s comfort food for children, which makes it all the more weird how strangely nostaglic the dish is for me, a 28-year-old woman who has never lived in Japan… But nevertheless, there’s something very universal about its combination of starchy carbs, eggy protein, and lashings of tomato sauce.
This recipe makes four portions:
- 2 chicken thighs, boned
- 1 onion
- 50g carrot
- 1 green pepper
- 2 shiitake mushrooms
- 1 tbsp parsley
- 4 cups cooked Japanese rice
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp sake
- Dash Worcestershire sauce
- 8 eggs
- Ketchup to serve
- Finely chop the onion, carrot, mushroom and parsley.
- Debone the chicken and remove the skin. Cut the thigh into small pieces, around 1cm in size, then season with salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 tbsp butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion until slightly softened. Add the chicken and fry until the outside has gone white. Add the carrot, pepper and mushrooms and cook until soft. This could take as long as ten minutes. You need to ensure the carrot is tender, as it will not be cooked again. Add the parsley and remove from the heat, reserving the mixture and wiping out the frying pan.
- Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a frying pan and add the hot rice, stirring well. Add the fried mix along with the ketchup, sake and Worcestershire sauce. Season if needed, and keep warm. Do not over cook as this will dry out the rice.
- In another, shallow frying pan, heat 1 tsp butter. Beat two of the eggs, season with salt, then pour into the frying pan, spreading to cover the base. Put a quarter of the rice in the middle of the pan while the egg is still slightly raw. This helps to stick the rice mixture to the omelette.
- When the eggs are slightly set, wrap the edges over the top of the rice and turn out onto a warm plate. Don’t worry if you pierce the egg as you do so, as the edges are tucked under. Using a paper towel, shape it as in our photo, then squirt tomato sauce on the top. Continue with the rest of the eggs and mixture until you’ve made four omelettes.
You can also keep this for the following day, and serve it in a bento ala the picture!