9 to 5 bento

A friend saw me with all this and asked if I had brought the entire kitchen! This is a typical set-up if I want to stay happily-fed for an entire day. It can be quite a lot to lug around if I’m on the move, but it’s fine if I’m staying in the same location all day.

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Apart from the rice cooker and the kettle in the background, this is my lunchbag and its contents:
* drinks: 1 litre water bottle, 500ml insulated mug-style flask
* 1 lunch bento
* 4 snack bento
* plastic fork & spoon
* oshibori

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The lunch in 630ml Asvel bento box: organic wild rice blend (Origins Healthcare, available at NTUC – my favourite brown rice!); kabocha Japanese pumpkin stir-fried with shallots; fish braised with enoki mushrooms, shallots and a tiny bit of miso.

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Left to right (in E-Z Lock boxes): brown rice cookies; butter cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting (the frosted one is a bit smashed on top from the bento box lid; for lunchbox-friendly frosting method, slice out the top, put in frosting and replace the ‘lid’); dragon fruit; oolong tea konnyaku jelly. [Full recipes coming soon.]

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Mini sweet potato cupcakes (in white box with orange lid). [Recipe maybe coming soon, these were a semi-disaster, not sure if it’s worth sharing the recipe at all and reinforced my perception that baking recipes in Chinese cookbooks often look rather odd :P .]

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Kukicha is a great barely-caffeinated hot drink to sip throughout the day. However, I learnt the hard way that if brewed too strong and drunk in too large quantities, it has a serious laxative effect on me! This could be my particular food sensitivities at work, might not be the same for everyone. The brewing instructions on the packets of western brands of Asian teas can often be completely wrong. While black teas such as English breakfast should indeed be brewed at 100℃ for 3 to 5 minutes, this is never the case for Chinese, Japanese and Korean teas. Kukicha, hojicha and mugicha/boricha should be brewed with 100℃ but only for 15 to 30 seconds. The flavour should be delicate, not overly-strong.

Sometimes I even carry my insulated flask/mug empty to events where refreshments are provided so as to avoid using unenvironmentally-friendly styrofoam cups — plus I also get to sneak my hot drink inside when everyone else has had to finish theirs in the food area .

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Essential equipment:. oshibori from Daiso and reused airplane plastic cutlery. Sometimes I use these foldable chopsticks instead.

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