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Spicy Sweet Beef and Shiitake Stir-fry Bento
From Bento Love, by Kentaro Kobayashi

Sweet, salty, and a must on the list of lunch box regulars – be generous with the shiitake. Stir-fry quickly after adding seasonings.

Richly flavorful sweet and savory sauce is perfect for bento boxes. This dish is easy to make, but it can be easily influenced by your mood. It can easily get too salty or too sweet. If you get caught up adding a little more of this and that, you may find yourself in a hot spot, literally. So when you add seasonings, turn off the heat first and take your time.


For the Stir-fry

3-1/2 oz (100 g) thinly sliced lean beef
2 shiitake mushrooms (fresh)
1/2 nub ginger
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp mirin (sweet cooking wine)
2 tsp light soy sauce
Japanese (sansho) pepper (or black pepper)
2 tsp sesame oil

For the Rapini:

2 to 3 stems rapini
Soy sauce to taste


1.Cut beef into bite-size pieces. Remove stalks of shiitake and slice in half. Mince peeled ginger.

2.Add sesame oil to a well-heated pan and sauté beef over medium high heat.

3.When meat is lightly browned add shiitake and stir-fry. Add ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and mirin. Mix quickly.

4.Simmer on high heat and stir to coat. Finish with pepper.

5. Blanch 2 to 3 stems of rapini in salted boiling water. Transfer to lukewarm water to remove bitterness, drain, and squeeze out excess water. Cut into bite-size pieces and lightly sprinkle with soy sauce.

Packing Tips: The light refreshing flavor of fresh vegetables complements the thick, rich flavor of the main dish. It doesn't have to be rapini. Any seasonal green vegetable will do. Pack greens next to meat and top rice with Shiba-style pickles.

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