My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch!

Bento Recipes: Like Benihana, but cheaper.


Back to the
or the


Normally I'd put these items on separate pages, but since they share a theme (namely, stuff I eat at Benihana) and they interlock when I cook them I'm listing them together. You can cook a big batch of this stuff and eat off of it for days; it microwaves quite nicely. Serve this with rice, of course!

sauteed mushrooms | zucchini & onion stir-fry | marinated, stir-fried beef/chicken/shrimp/etc.

Sauteed Mushrooms

Start off with these guys. Get some plain white mushrooms, the kind you put in salads. They're best before the caps open. Wash them and cut off the ends of the stems. (I leave the stems on.) If the caps are big, cut them in half. Put about a tablespoon of butter in a cooking pot and melt it with the power on low.(I use 3 on my 1-9, hi dials.) Then put the mushrooms in, with the heat still low. Let it simmer covered for a while, stirring every few minutes until the mushrooms get wet. Then let 'em simmer until the mushrooms are nice and soft and you have a fair amount of liquid under 'em.

Yeah, I'm aware that this isn't really sauteeing. If you know the difference, feel free to sautee them for real, but with this meal you have as many as four things going at once (counting rice) so it's easier to cook the mushrooms slow, on one of the back burners.

Zucchini & Onion Stir-Fry

If you've been to any Japanese steakhouse type place you'll recognize this. Get a few mid-sized zucchini squash and a white onion; size and ratio depend on your taste. First, cut the very top and bottom off, then cut the onion in half top-to-bottom. Peel as much of the outside as you need to. Put one of the halves on your cutting board and make a deep cut along the highest part of the "dome." Then cut it in slices so you end up with a lot of arc-shaped pieces. (The deep cut was so you don't end up with a lot of really long pieces.) Repeat with the other half. Then place the pieces in a deep pan and pour in some of the mushroom juice. (See, this is where the recipes start to interlock!) Break up the onion clumps with a wooden spoon, then cover and simmer over low heat. While this is cooking, peel the zucchini and cut it into strips about the size of thick french fries. After the onions have cooked about 10 minutes you can dump the zucchini in. Wait until you're ready to cook the meat, though, because overcooked zucchini is limp and not as tasty. Raise the heat to medium high and alternate between stirring it about and letting it cook covered. It's done when the thinner pieces start getting flexible, but before they get floppy. When in doubt, taste! There'll be a lot of liquid in the bottom of the pan by the time you finish this. Serve off the top. When putting this in your bento box, drain off as much of the liquid as you can so you don't get the rest of your lunch all wet'n'sloppy. In fact, you can put some of this in a paper towel and roll it around gently to remove excess liquid before packing it into the box.

Marinated, Stir-Fried Beef/Chicken/Shrimp/Etc.

This is really simple, and the last part you cook. Before you start all of the above, marinate the meat or whatever. Cut it up into bite-sized pieces, put it in a sandwich bag, put the marinade in with it, shake, and let it sit while you're dealing with all the other stuff. You can marinate in teriyaki, soy, or ginger sauce. (Quickie teriyaki sauce: Mix 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup mirin, and 1/4 cup sugar well, heat it in a pan to boiling, then quickly take it off the fire and put the meat in it to soak up the flavor) Or use whatever else you prefer, but I don't recommend steak sauce or the like, because that doesn't go well with the rest of ths meal. When the rest of the food is about ready, get a small pan, dump the marinade and the marinadee into it, and stir-fry it over high heat. Cook it quick and fast! If it's a bit dry, dump some of the mushroom juice on it.


All you really need for this is soy sauce. My bento box has a little compartment perfect for dipping sauce, so I put some in there, then dip everything in there before eating it. Except for the rice, which gets its own dollop of soy.