This month it’s back to school and, following the end of Ramadan, back to lunching. While Dubai’s children are getting ready to don their uniforms, the minds of parents will be turning to the daily challenge of preparing a fresh, healthy and tasty lunch for their brood.
Yet what of the parents’ lunches? If you’re returning to lunching in the office after a month of fasting, the novelty of eating the same old soups, salads and sandwiches will soon wear off. Looking for something more unusual to feast on during your lunch hour? As part of our hunt for lunch-box inspiration, we asked some of the city’s top restaurants to devise recipes for some healthy, tasty packed lunches to help you dine in style.
Okku’s Japanese bento box A bento is essentially a traditional Japanese lunch box, featuring multiple compartments to allow diners to sample a variety of dishes. Typical foods contained in a bento box include rice with fish or meat, plus pickled or cooked vegetables. Okku’s elegant mix of teriyaki salmon, Japanese-style salad and stir-fried noodles makes the perfect portable lunch, because although noodles and salmon can be heated up, they also taste great cold. Okku, The H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 501 8777).
Salmon teriyaki Ingredients 80g fresh salmon 1g white pepper 1g salt 1 lettuce leaf
For the teriyaki sauce 100ml soy sauce 150ml non-alcoholic mirin 100ml chicken Stock 5g sugar
Method 1 Place the teriyaki sauce ingredients in a pan and heat until the mixture has reduced by half. You can thicken the sauce further by adding cornflour (5g) and cold water (10ml). 2 Season the salmon with the white pepper and salt. Grill to preferred temperature. Rest and slice. 3 Place the lettuce leaves in the bento box. Place the salmon on top and pour the teriyaki sauce over it, making sure it is completely covered. Salad with carrot and ginger dressing Ingredients 70g iceberg lettuce 20g white cabbage, sliced thinly 10g purple cabbage, sliced thinly 45g tomato, cut into wedges 5g carrot, sliced thinly 10g sweetcorn
For the carrot/ginger dressing 30ml soy sauce 10ml non-alcoholic mirin 30ml rice vinegar 6ml lemon juice 15ml vegetable oil 5ml sesame oil 1.5g ginger, finely grated 5g garlic, finely grated 2g carrot, finely grated A pinch of black pepper
Method 1 Combine all dressing ingredients, whizz in a blender and refrigerate. 2 Mix the ingredients for the salad together and toss with the dressing.
Stir-fried Noodles Ingredients 75g udon noodles (dry) 5g red pepper, sliced thinly 5g yellow pepper, sliced thinly 5g green pepper, sliced thinly 10g carrot, sliced thickly 10g white onion, sliced thickly 5g spring onion, sliced thinly 10g bean sprouts 15ml sesame oil 45ml vegetable oil 15ml soy sauce 15ml dark soy sauce A pinch of white pepper A pinch of salt 5ml white vinegar Method 1 Add the udon to a pan of boiling water, bring to the boil again and cook for just under ten minutes. 2 Drain the noodles, toss them with sesame oil and set aside. 3 Add the oil to a hot pan and sauté the veg. When they are al dente, add a little hot water to the pan. 4 Add the noodles, the soy sauce, white pepper and salt. 5 Allow the ingredients to combine, and the sauce to coat the noodles and veg. Remove from the heat and add the white vinegar.
Jones the Grocer’s duck and hoi sin sauce wrap This wrap is inspired by the typical Chinese combination of duck with hoi sin (or plum) sauce. This recipe is easy to prepare: roast the duck in advance, then assemble the wrap in the morning before work. Jones the Grocer, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Manara (04 346 6886). Ingredients 50g duck breast (or chicken, if you prefer) 1 tbsp hoi sin sauce 1 wrap or flat bread ¼ carrot, peeled and sliced 30g Chinese cabbage, finely sliced 30g bean sprouts A handful of fresh mint leaves A handful of fresh coriander leaves 1 tsp sesame oil 1 tsp rice vinegar 1 tsp fish sauce Pinch of salt and pepper Mixed salad leaves to garnish Method 1 Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place a pan on a medium heat, add the oil and place the duck skin-side down. Cook for eight to ten minutes. 2 Turn the duck and place the pan into the oven for five minutes. Rest for five minutes before slicing. 3 In a bowl, mix the duck, hoi sin sauce, carrot, cabbage, bean sprouts, mint, coriander, salt, pepper, fish sauce and sesame oil. 4 Place the mixture in the centre of the wrap. Fold the ends in and over the mixture, and wrap the other ends in on one another. Wrap in greaseproof paper and twist tightly at each end. 5 Serve with the salad leaves.
Mövenpick Hotel Deira’s caramelised onion, roasted pumpkin and cheese omelette This recipe was devised by executive head chef Salvatore Silvestrino, who tells us: ‘This reminds me of my childhood. It’s simple and is perfect for lunch because it’s healthy, and will satisfy your appetite without being too heavy. I love cooking with pumpkin because of the great aroma and texture.’ Mövenpick Hotel Deira, Abu Baker Al Siddique Road (04 444 0111).
Ingredients 2 large eggs 20g red onion, sliced thinly 20g pumpkin, diced 10g mozzarella cheese 1g fresh thyme, chopped Salt and pepper to taste Olive oil Butter
For the salad ½ bunch of local rocket 1 small tomato, cut into thin wedges 20ml olive oil 10ml balsamic vinegar Salt and pepper to taste
Method 1 Crack the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until very fluffy. 2 Place a little oil and butter in a large pan. Once hot, add the pumpkin. Pan-roast for a few minutes on a gentle flame until tender, then season well. 3 Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Add the pumpkin to the whisked eggs. 4 Add a little more butter and oil to the pan. Once it’s hot again, add the onion and sauté until fragrant – take care not to burn it. 5 Season with salt and pepper, add the egg and pumpkin mixture and the cheese, and cook on a gentle flame for seven to eight minutes, making sure the egg mixture is cooking thoroughly. Turn the heat off and allow the mixture to continue cooking for a few more minutes. 6 Cut the omelette into wedges and place in your lunch box wrapped in greaseproof paper. 7 To make the salad, toss the ingredients together and store separately from the omelette, then mix the olive oil and vinegar for the dressing. You can either drizzle it over the salad leaves before packing your lunch box, or store it separately in a small jar and dress the salad before eating for extra freshness.
Boxing clever Need the perfect container in which to store your lunch? Here’s our pick…
For salads and bento Created by London based design duo Black + Blum, the ‘Appetite’ box is a sturdy ceramic container replicating the iconic design of Japanese takeaway bento boxes. It’s divided into compartments, and there’s even a sauce pot for dressing or dips. Dhs99. Available at D.tales, DIFC (04 330 6899).
For fruit Making sure your lunch contains at least one of your five a day can be tricky: transporting fruit without it getting bruised is a particular headache. This banana guard from Lakeland is an inspired way of carrying bananas to protect them from damage. Dhs39. Available at Lakeland, Mall of the Emirates (04 323 6081) and Mirdif City Centre (04 284 3460).
For drinks The ice melt bottle from Nude Food Movers has a space-saving dual purpose that makes it perfect for Dubai’s summer climate. Pour water (or whatever lunchtime drink you fancy) into the bottle and freeze overnight. Take it out the next morning and pop it in your lunch box: it will act like an ice pack to keep your food cool, and by lunchtime the liquid in the bottle will have melted, ready to drink. Dhs45. Available online at www.dbbabies.com.