Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Redneck Seafood Bento

by SuSu, BunchBox

In the future world of Serenity, western and eastern cultures have become one, but not in the "melting pot" way one might expect. Many things kept their identity, while integrating fully into the lives of people of all classes in the 'verse. For instance, the idea of a "bento" — a Japanese 'lunchbox' with rice as a base, and usually vegetables, pickles, and maybe a protein, and usually leftover from another meal. The idea blossomed at some point to make the "bentos" an arts and crafts thing, with artfully decorated items to resemble flowers, cartoons, etc. And of course, there was push-back against this trend, and others would just throw things into their bento-box willy-nilly, "and be done with it, already!"

Still, there wasno denying that menfolk could brag about how their womenfolk cared for them and the young ones when they got the artfully crafted and decorated fare. The ones who sneered at the fussy presentations often realized that their arrogance came across as jealousy.

And honestly, many people — especially the "womenfolk" — simply didn't have the time to decorate the heck out of something that would be consumed on the fly, in the middle of a field or construction site. But they could make sure it was delicious and that there was plenty of it, and their offerings often made their repuations.

Case in point, Jayne Cobb's mother, who had taught him all he knew about good food, and he pined for it. His family was not as poor as other families, since all the cousins and children who went off-planet sent money home. Jayne's mother, Radiant Cobb, was careful with it, never squandering the money her son's work afforded her. When there was time for fun, she was frugal and cooked her style of bentos for picnics and festivals. She usually made so much that she could even sell or trade the leftovers to others for a bit of extra income.

Once, instead of money, Jayne sent boxes and boxes of frozen seafood — his share of a heist. Radiant quickly sold off and traded the rare commodity, and retained one box for herself — a mere 2 or so kilograms. When the family expressed their disappointment, she assured them they'd get plenty of seafood for their bentos to haul to work; she'd traded for all the other things she'd need to make up a mess of deliciousness! This is her recipe, and it does make a lot. She'd pack them into one-quart deli-style containers because they were easy to tote. Not elegant, but convenient and cheap. She didn't dispose of them, and insisted on cleaning and recycling the sturdy containers. They fit into the chiller better, too.

Too bad she couldn't send it to Jayne and his colleagues; she never knew where he would be, or when. But she could send him a homey letter and perhaps a hand-knitted cap, in gratitude.

  • 5 lbs / 2.25 kg frozen mixed seafood, cooked
  • 5 lbs chicken parts, roasted, bones removed (use bones to make stock), meat diced
  • 1 lb hot italian or chorizo sausage, bulk or link
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 head celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 3 cups rice
  • 2 - 15 oz/ 420 g cans chopped tomatoes, with juice
  • 8 cups / 2 litres / 2 quarts chicken or seafood stock
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb / 450 g frozen peas
Thaw the seafood, and drain, retaining the juices. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Roast or grill the sausages if they are raw, and slice or break them up. You can roast the chicken pieces with them. Retain the fat and juices. Put them into a very large skillet or pot — you will build the whole paella in this.

Cook the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in the sausage oil, and add olive oil if needed. Cook till the vegetables are limp and browned. Add the peppers and cook will their color has changed. Add the rice and cook till it smells toasted and the grains are translucent looking and lightly browned.

Heat the chicken or seafood stock, and ladle 2 cups into the rice. Empty the cans of diced tomatoes into the rice, with the juice. Stir to mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Allow the stock to simmer, and let the rice absorb the stock. Add enough hot stock to cover the rice. Do not stir, and allow to cook till the liquid is absorbed. Try a few grains as the cooking progresses — if it's chalky or hard, keep cooking, adding more stock or water.

When the rice is just about tender, gently stir it up. Add the seafood, chicken, and sausage. Heat through, then add the frozen peas and cook till thawed and bright green.

To serve, scrape up the crust that should have formed on the bottom of the pan and include it in every serving. Or, put into containers to eat later. Refrigerate when cooled, and microwave to reheat as desired.

Makes 12 to 20 servings, depending on if you have side dishes, and how hearty your eaters are.

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