Soboro (AKA clean your fridge and pantry out in the most delicious way possible) is a very popular lunch dish in Japan. It is easy to make, keeps really well and just tastes delicious. You can think of it as a deconstructed fried rice. So I thought, why not make it popular here as well? If Soboro is too hard to pronounce or remember, then call it “Deconstructed Fried Rice” and now you are a fancy schmancy chef! So win-win!
Basically in a bed of rice of your choosing (white, brown, wild, other grains such as quinoa or even couscous could also work) you arrange an assortment of toppings that can later be mixed in and enjoyed with the rice (make sure your toppings compliment your base starch).
- Sliced Pineapple
- Soy Sauce in container
For this soboro I took a look at my pantry and fridge and just grabbed things I had. Like I mentioned this is a great dish to clear out your fridge at the end of the week. Any vegetables and meats can be used! For this one in particular I kept it very simple. It contains white rice, peas, ground turkey, and thinly sliced omelette.
Ground Turkey in an Asian Sauce —
-1 package ground turkey
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-1 Tbsp sesame oil
-1 Tbsp mirin (can substitute with Sake or a mixture of white wine and honey; about 1/4 cup wine to 1 Tbsp honey)
-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
-1/2 tsp cumin
-salt and pepper to taste
-2 stalks green onion thinly sliced
Set stove to medium heat. In a pan add sesame oil (Sesame oil has a pretty strong flavor so if your taste buds are not used to it just tell them to WAKE UP and prepare for deliciousness… I mean just add a teaspoon mixed in with a tablespoon of olive oil). Let it heat, then add garlic, let it cook for just a minute or less, be careful with them! Those suckers are such prima donnas, they like to burn in seconds and then will taste horrible and make everything else taste horrible too just to spite you >_< so always keep an eye on your garlic!
But I digress, add the turkey to the garlic, then add the cumin and stir everything together. Let turkey brown for about three minutes. Then add soy sauce and mirin (or sake or white wine mix if that is the route you are going). A couple of notes on this:
Mirin: Can be found at most grocery stores these days, so no excuse for substitution!
Soy Sauce: Is salty, so don’t add salt to the food until the end of the cooking process. You want to taste it first and see if you even need to add salt at all.
Let sauce reduce. Add salt and pepper as needed. Turn off heat. Once the heat is off add the green onions, they will cook with the residual heat. This actually makes a huge difference in the overall taste.
When assembling the bento, let all of your components cool to room temperature. Then fill the bottom of your lunchbox with rice, then ARTFULLY arrange your toppings, channel some Picasso or Dali, completely up to you. The important thing to remember is that you want the toppings to be separated so you can taste all the different flavors once you mix it. It microwaves well, so YAY!
“The Pickled Radish Incident”
Now fun story time, you see those little pink flowers on the turkey?
Well, I decided to be Miss gourmet chef and make my own radish pickle. Hey how hard could it be? Japanese people pickle radishes all the time. So I cut the radishes in pretty shapes, because why not? Added them to my pickling mix, and set them to marinade overnight. The next day when I finished making my bento I though, “you know what would be awesome with this? Some pink pickled radish flowers.” So I got my container with a smile on my face and joy in my heart and opened it… Oh dear Lord, why did I open it? It smelled like rotten eggs… It permeated my kitchen, turned my stomach and brought tears to my eyes. I quickly grabbed a few, rinsed them out which made the smell tolerable, and quickly closed the container. I took the bento pictures and then promptly got rid of the flowers. Yes I threw away ALL of them, container and all. Then I sealed the garbage bag and ran out of the house and did not stop until I hit the dumpster… It was a sad day, I guess we are not ready for Japanese pickled radishes yet ;-;