This week, I’m aiming to make all of my bentos vegan or vegetarian. One reason is simply to have more vegan/vegetarian bento recipes up here! But the other more personal reasons are that, first of all, vegan/vegetarian meals often cost less than meat-centric meals, especially here in Switzerland where even the inexpensive cuts of meat and poultry are not so. The other is just for health; I often feel so much better when I’ve had a vegan bento.
This fried rice is a meal unto itself. There are some finely chopped vegetables as well as hijiki seaweed, and high quality protein in the form of brown rice and natto , those infamous sticky fermented soy beans. I have been hesitant about featuring natto-based recipes here or on Just Hungry, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that quite a few people actually do like it . Natto is an excellent and easily digestible source of protein, and when it’s cooked like this all of the gooey stickiness of it disappears. If you prefer though, you can substitute crumbled tempeh or even shelled edamame.
This makes enough for 2 to 3 bentos. Total calories: about 650.
The key to success with this recipe is to maintain a high heat at all times under your pan.
Chop up all the vegetables.
Heat up a wok or large non-stick frying pan with 1/2 of the vegetable oil. Add the green onions and the vegetables, and sauté until the vegetables are a little limp.
Add the natto or tempeh, and 1 Tbs. of soy sauce. Sauté until the stickiness of the natto has dissipated. Add the sesame oil.
Add the rest of the oil and the rice. Stir-fry until the rice and the other ingredients are evenly mixed. Push the mixture to one side, and add the rest of the soy sauce to the bare surface of the pan. Add the hijiki if you have it. Stir-fry a couple of minutes more until everything looks and smells toasty. Season with pepper (probably needed) and salt (probably not needed - taste some before adding!); let cool before packing in a bento box.
Sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds or gomashio .