Beef is a good source of protein, iron, and other nutrients, and it’s a popular ingredient in our house since my husband loves it! This section includes some of his favorite bento recipes using beef. They draw their inspiration from a variety of Asian and European cuisines.
- Beef Bibimbap
- Mixed Vegetable Namul
- White Rice
Bibimbap is a Korean dish that means “mixed rice,” made with beef in a delicious spicy marinade. It’s usually served sizzling hot, but this bento version is delicious cold too. If you can get hold of a decent quantity of thinly sliced beef sirloin offcuts, make a double or triple batch of this recipe and freeze.
- 1 lb (450g) very thinly sliced beef
- 4 tablespoons makgeolli or saké
- 1/4 garlic clove, grated
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon strawberry jam
- 3 tablespoons gochujang
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- Cut the beef into bite-sized pieces. Combine the makgeolli, grated garlic, soy sauce, jam, and gochujang. Mix until blended. Add the beef and marinate for at least 10 minutes.
- Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Put in the beef with the marinade, and stir-fry until the meat is cooked.
- This can be refrigerated for 2–3 days, or frozen for up to a month.
Ingredient Tip 1: Makgeolli is a Korean alcoholic beverage made with rice. You can find it at Korean grocery stores.
Ingredient Tip 2: You can use cheesesteak beef for this recipe, or beef sliced for sukiyaki.
Mixed Vegetable Namul
Namul is a type of delicious Korean vegetable side dish. You can vary the vegetables to your liking, but the ones used here are classic.
- 1 bunch spinach or other greens, such as Swiss chard or komatsuna
- 2 cups (200g) bean sprouts, roots trimmed
- 1 medium carrot, finely julienned
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds, toasted
- Rinse the spinach well to remove any dirt. Bring a pan of water to a boil, and put in the spinach. Cook for a minute, take out of the pan, and place in a bowl, leaving the boiling water in the pan.
- Put the bean sprouts in the pan. Cook for 30 seconds, then remove from the pan, leaving the boiling water in the pan. Put the carrot in the pan. Cook for 30 seconds, then drain.
- Cool the spinach with cold running water, drain, and squeeze out tightly. Cut into 1-1/2-inch (4cm) lengths.
- Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and sesame seeds in a bowl large enough to hold all the vegetables, and mix until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Put all the vegetables in the bowl and mix well to coat with the sauce. The namul keeps in the refrigerator for 1–2 days.
This bento is made with 1 cup (200g) of cooked white rice.
Have hot precooked rice ready to go. Either set the timer on your rice cooker the night before so that the rice is ready in the morning or defrost some precooked frozen rice in the microwave on the high setting for 2 minutes.
How to Pack
Mix some toasted white sesame seeds into the rice, and put in the bottom of a bento box. Layer the beef and namul on top of the rice — here I’ve arranged them in colorful strips.
More from The Just Bento Cookbook 2:
Cover courtesy of Kodansha
Excerpted with permission from The Just Bento Cookbook 2 by Makiko Itoh (Kodansha, 2018).