Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Drive-In Movie Bento Night

To celebrate July 4th, we did something nostalgic:  We went to a drive-in with our bento dinner.  Remember those days?  Waialae Drive In Theater was our family's favorite.  The best part was going in our pajamas.  I wish I could remember at what age I stopped wearing pajamas to the drive-in.  Ok I'm kidding, the best part was my mom's bentos.  So very simple, but so delicious: musubi, fried rolled eggs, spam or vienna sausages, potato salad, celery/carrot sticks, etc.  Usually something like teriyaki or chicken, but the aforementioned were the staples.

You're saying, "Waaait a minute!  First of all Hawaii doesn't have any more drive-in theaters and Kauai never had any!  How could you go to a drive-in theater on the 4th?"  Ok so it wasn't exactly a theater, but like a drive-in theater, it WAS a parking lot (Ace Hardware's) and there WAS a performance: the "Concert in the Sky" fireworks show.  And, there was bento!

Perhaps because of the recession, the parking lot was more crowded than ever before, full of people who didn't want to pay the $10 entrance fee to the nearby Vidinha Stadium. It's not that we're cheap (well ok maybe we are--see blog post below), but honestly, we just didn't care to deal with the parking issue, walking to the field, possible rain, etc.  This way we could simply sit in our car, eat our dinner, and enjoy, then easily drive off as soon as the show ended.  [Ok everyone who did the "freebie" route like we did, please make a donation to Kauai Hospice!]

I made a LOT of musubis because they're my favorite part of the meal.  If that's all there was I'd still be happy!  They have to be almost fully covered with nori, of course, and have an ume in the center.  Tuna mixed with mayo/salt/pepper is also a delicious filling--try it if you haven't.  My second favorite part of a homemade bento is the egg omelet roll:

3 large eggs
1/2 t. Bragg's or soy sauce
1/2 t. sugar
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/4 c. minced chives and/or green onions
1/2 c. tuna (optional)

Mix eggs with seasonings.  Read the following carefully for best results:

If using a 12" pan, 3 eggs should make a nice thin layer.  If using a smaller pan, you'll be able to make 2 omelets.  Heat the oiled frying pan and pour enough egg to form a thin layer covering the whole pan.  You're going to roll the egg, so determine which is your starting edge ("front half").  Immediately lower the heat and work fast.  (You don't want the egg to cook too fast, especially on the "back" half of the pan.)  I move the pan so that the back half of the pan is off the burner and cooks more slowly than the front half.  Working quickly, sprinkle the green onions/chives all over the egg except for the very back edges.  Sprinkle tuna.  When front end is firm enough, start rolling, carefully loosening the egg from the pan with a spatula.  You'll probably need two spatulas if using a 12" pan to properly roll the omelet.  Hopefully when you reach the end of your roll the egg on that back edge will still be a little "tacky" so it will stick and seal the roll.  Remove the roll from the pan and cool.  Slice diagonally about 3/4 " wide or as desired.

Rather than make the usual potato salad, I used Okinawan sweet potatoes to make a simple salad.  I guess the demand for these potatoes went up--Costco now sells them in a box--because supposedly they're the secret to longevity in Okinawa.  I don't really have a recipe, but more or less this is what I used and it turned out pretty good:

3 medium sweet potatoes (cooked in the microwave for about 8 minutes, but test with a toothpick.  I then place a stainless steel bowl--or foil--over them to steam a bit more for a few minutes.  Cut into cubes and then cool in the refrigerator.)

3 T. mayonnaise
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vinegar (I use Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar)
1/2 t. sugar
1/4 c. minced onions
1/2 c. minced celery

Because potato sizes vary, you may have to modify measurements.  We don't like too much mayo in ours.

We also had some of Foodland's fried chicken (yum!!) and that was pretty much it!  Not the healthiest meal, but not the worst, either. 

The weather was great and the fireworks were beautiful.  If only we could've worn pajamas it would've been even more perfect! 

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