Simple steak teriyaki and miso aubergine bento box

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This beautifully simple bento box recipe from Louise Robinson is packed with treats to brighten up your lunchtime. Tucked inside are morsels of moreish baked miso aubergine and steak teriyaki, supported by fragrant Japanese rice and tangy pickled cucumber.

First published in 2016

Ask many people what they had for lunch at work today and they may struggle to remember. Lunch ‘on the go’ would probably be the most likely answer. A supermarket sandwich, hurriedly eaten at their desk, or perhaps a ready made salad or soup.

Instead of reaching for the same boring lunch options, why not try making a Japanese style packed lunch in the form of a bento box. Traditionally these compartmented lunch boxes contain rice, fish and/or meat, vegetables and pickles, but there are hundreds of variations.

While there are some incredibly elaborate bento boxes, the recipes below could not be simpler. Most of the recipes serve two, apart from the rice which serves four, as it is easier to make a larger quantity. If making a box just for yourself, you can always enjoy any leftovers the next day. If you are really pushed for time, decant some good quality shop-bought sushi into your bento box and add some pickles and maybe a little homemade salad.




Pickled cucumber

  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 20ml of rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, finely grated

Baked aubergine with miso

Japanese rice with spring onion and ginger

Steak teriyaki


Begin by making the pickled cucumber. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Slice crossways into very thin slices
Place the rice vinegar, sugar, salt and ginger into a small bowl and stir to combine
Add the cucumber to the bowl and stir to coat the slices evenly with the mixture. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
Meanwhile, prepare the baked aubergine. Place the miso, mirin and sake in a large bowl and mix together to form a smooth paste. Stir in the ginger and spring onions. Add the aubergine slices to the bowl and toss to coat thoroughly in the sauce
Grease a large roasting tray with the oil and arrange the aubergine slices in a single layer to ensure they cook evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, until soft and golden brown. If the aubergine is drying out, splash with a little water
While the aubergine bakes, prepare the Japanese rice. Place the rice in a sieve and wash under the cold tap until the water runs clear. Rest the sieve on a bowl and leave to drain for at least 15 minutes
Remove the aubergine from the oven and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and chopped coriander. Set aside until ready to serve
Place the rice in a saucepan and add 180ml of cold water. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and immediately reduce the heat as low as possible for a further 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, do not remove the lid and leave for another 10 minutes
Meanwhile, cook the peas with a pinch of salt in plenty of boiling water for a couple of minutes, then drain and place the peas in bowl of iced water
Place the spring onions, ginger, oil, rice vinegar, mirin, sugar and salt into a small bowl and mix to create a sauce. Fold the peas and sauce into the rice and allow to cool
For the steak teryaki, place a frying pan over a high heat until really hot. Add the oil and flash fry the beef fillet for a couple of minutes. It should still be pink in the middle. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate
Place the mirin, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, cornflour and ginger in a small saucepan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring continuously, and cook for 2 minutes until the sauce thickens. Leave to cool
Place 2 lettuce ‘cups’ in each bento box and fill with radishes, cucumber and onion. Season with a little more salt and pepper and place the beef slices on top. Spoon over a little of the sauce and sprinkle with the chopped coriander
Divide half of the Japanese rice between the bento boxes, refrigerating any leftovers. Remove the cucumber from the pickling solution and divide between the boxes. Add the baked aubergine and serve
First published in 2016

Louise Robinson is a former fashion accessories designer turned freelance food writer, stylist and photographer now based in the Sussex countryside.

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