Bear Bento

Bearbento

Another Bear Bento (or technically Bear Dosirakbento, as I am using Korean bibimbap minced beef for the bear).

I have been thinking about making a Halloween bento as I have seen lots of very pretty ones on the web, but I couldn’t get myself organised enough to think up a design and look for the right ingredients. I had a major cold/bit of flu this week (despite the liters of Yucha) so was feeling very uninspired to make lunches.
Have mainly been eating spicy noodle soup (yep..instant ramen), drinking Yujacha and Lemsip and have eaten a whole supermarket aisle of citrusfruit… Think my cold is finally receding… :-)

So today’s lunch is an “old” design, rice topped with an omelet and minced beef, it was very good :-P

The sides/decoration are carrot flowers, beans, sugar snaps, left over carrot/omelet, tomatoes, cucumber and plums. All very healthy :-)

If you want to know more about how I created/packed this lunch, you can read about it in this previous post with was very similar.

Yujacha (Korean Yuzu tea)

Previously, I mentioned my cold, and one of the things I do to try battle it, is by drinking Yujacha!

Yujacha.jpg

I am drinking quite a lot of this at the moment, allegedly it’s good for a cold but I also like the taste and smell of it.

When I first saw these pots in the Korean supermarket, next to the boxes of green and other teas, I thought it was some sort of random Korean shelving strategy (like in UK supermarkets, they always put the brand products on eye sight level, and all the breakfast products in the same (group) of aisles). I thought “hmm, marmalade next to tea, how odd?” But when I looked closely at the label, it DID say tea!

Of course I’m always happy to try out new products (especially when they have some translated instructions, which luckily was the case) so I took it home and sort of forgot about it until this month. But Autumn has started, and with it lots of rain….and the associated colds and coughs…I’ve been sniffling quite a lot and have been in search for comforting food and drinks.

Time for the Yujacha!

Yujacha or yuja cha is a traditional Korean (herbal tea) made from the citrus fruit yuzu (i.e. not lemon as the translation on the pot says!). It seems very similar to how marmalade is made, the fruit is thinly sliced, peel and all and combined with honey or sugar to be preserved. The end result looks like a jelly/jam/marmalade with floating bits of peel and even pips.

I think you can drink it hold and cold, but I have only been making hot drinks with it, just stirring a table spoon in a mug of hot water.  The jelly/jam/marmalade dissolves in the water and the peel is very soft so you can just drink/eat it. It has the most gorgeous smell, bit difficult to describe but a sort of warm, lemony smell with a spicy undertone (note, there are no spices at all in it, it’s just in the smell).

Yuja cha is good for colds, coughs, headaches and chills because it contains a lot of vitamin C and it helps soothe the inflammation in throats. Fingers crossed it will help!

Flower bento box review

IMG_0835.JPG

Am still suffering from a cold and haven’t really packed a bento but just made some soup.

So instead I will show/discuss/review a few of my bento boxes, and show (link back to) some lunches I made in them.

The boxes in the photo above are what I call “my flower” bento boxes, because most of them seem to have a flower design on them. The exception is of course the round bunny bowl box, but somehow I always think of that one as a “flower box as well”. I don’t use this bunny bowl very often for lunch at work as it’s slightly too small, but I often use at home as a rice or miso soup bowl (you can use the lid as a bowl as well), they are the perfect size for that.

I also always think of these boxes as very typical Japanese bento boxes. Not sure why, but the style, decoration and “layout” of bottom container + top container with inner lid plus an outer lid, seems to be a style that you see often for Bento boxes. I guess it also helps that I bought these boxes at Japanese shops.

Some lunches I made in them (the photo should link to the relevant blog post)

Baabaasheep

sheep-bento.jpg

 Animal Farm

Animal Farm.jpg

 Easter bunnies

Easter-Bento

Bunny bowl

bento with egg fried rice and bunny decoration in a bunny bowl

The bunny container and the red flower container were bought at Bento & Co, I just love this (online) shop, they have so much choice and the (online) staff is always very helpful if you have any questions. You also get a discount for future use if you buy a box, use it for a bento and send them a photo of it (which they often place on their website/facebook). You can imagine that I have done that a few times :-)

The box with the pink lid in the back is the one that I bought recently at Japan Matsuri in London (I wrote about that here) and the smaller box on the right is one that I bought at the Japan Bookshop in London (around the corner of the Japan Centre). They have a small collection of bento boxes, chop sticks and table ware.

All these boxes came with bento bands to keep lid/containers together, and it is recommended to wash them by hand, especially because of the design on the lid. Some of the containers can be used in the microwave (without the inner lids) but I can’t always remember which ones, so I tend not to do this at all (I normally keep the instructions of each box, but I’m often too much in a hurry -or too lazy- to look it up, so better safe than sorry).

I now realise that I have another flower bento box which is not shown in this photo. It is however in another photo, about which I will write another blog post another time.  And this post shows my whole bento box collection

Ochazuke again

Ochazuke green tea rice

Previously I turned Ochazuke into a Bento, and as I really enjoyed having this for lunch, I made a repeat version today.

I’m also still attempting to avoid getting a cold, so made my lunch extra healthy by adding lots of vegetables this time, broccoli, spring onion and carrot (flowers).

The broccoli and carrots were briefly blanched before packing, as the hot tea alone wouldn’t cook them. I do like crispy veggies, but there is a difference between crispy and raw! The veggies were packed together with the salmon and spring onion and stored on top of the rice in the larger container. See  my previous post on how I packed the Bento.

You will probably see a few more of these lunches as I love Ochazuke. It has also really turned into Autumn here in London,so I am craving hot food for my lunch.

Bibimbap in a box

bibimbap in a lunch boxKorean Bibimbap (mixed rice) is my favourite Korean comfort food. It is also a very economical dish as you can make it with your left over banchan (side dishes).  We don’t eat Korean food for dinner, so I usually make or buy banchan for making Bibimbap, but I suppose you could also make a more “Western version” with left overs from your usual dinner. I do wonder how that would taste…hmm…one to put on my “idea” list for future lunches.

Anyway, as said, I love Bibimbap, and especially when served in a dolsot, a very hot stone bowl – lightly coated in sesame oil- which will help cook the egg and crisp up the rice. A dolsot isn’t very practical to pack for lunch ;-) but it’s still a nice dish without the crispy crust.

My Bibimbap in a box lunch was made with a “ready made” bibimbap set, bought at the Korean supermarket, and has 5 different vegetable toppings: spinach, beansprouts, korean radish, courgette and carrot (all marinated). I added some marinated minced beef (from my freezer stock), a few quail eggs, gochujang (in the little pot) and of course rice (some of it is hidden under the carrots/courgette). There are also some Kongjaban (soybeans).

After taking the photo, I fried the flower egg a bit longer to make sure the yolk was cooked through (like I did with the egg star). Normally the egg would cook in the hot dolsot, but for my lunch I don’t want to run the risk of having a raw egg yolk….

At work I actually put all the ingredients (except for the Gochujan and Kongjaban) in a large bowl, which I heated up in the microwave for a few minutes, before mixing it up all again. Looked a bit messy, but tasted very good :-P

Boy loves girl bento

First, welcome to new readers and followers! Thank you for finding my blog & I hope you will enjoy reading about my lunches :-)

image

This morning I had a little bit more time than usual as I was leaving for the office slightly later (will be staying longer as I have an appointment after work), so I spent a bit more time on creating this ‘boy loves girl’ bento.

What do you think, does she love him back?

The boy and girl are made of onigiri, decorated with nori (eyes, mouth, hair boy), black sesame seeds (eye lashes girl), egg sheet (hair girl) and carrot (cheeks girl). Some of the inspiration for this bento came from the Yum Yum bento book I won.

I had boiled the egg yesterday and put it into a heart shaped egg mold overnight, but I think I needed a larger egg…oh well, it sort of vaguely has a heart shape and I added the nori details and carrot heart as a sort of ‘love declaration’ (the boy gives his heart to the girl). These two nori punchers are actually paper punches, I bought them some time ago at Tiger, for £1 each!

The rest of the bento is filled with various veggies (broccoli, cucumber, carrot and tomato) and a sweet potato falafel (the dark round shape in the bottom of the container).

Oh, and I added one heart shaped pasta shape….maybe the girl is giving her heart to the boy???

Shrimp patty Dosirak

prawn patty bento dumpling filling

I made these shrimp patties from the left over filling of the Shrimp Mandu in an earlier blog post. They were so delicious, that I’m now actually considering not bothering with mandu wrappers at all!

The patties were pre-shaped, pre-fried and frozen (I used some baking paper to avoid them sticking together) and in the morning, I just put them in a non stick frying pan for a few minutes to defrost and reheat (food safety and such). I was afraid they might end up rubbery, but no, they were still juicy and bouncy and even a bit crispy.

Big success :-)

The only change I made to the original filling recipe was adding another table spoon of corn flour. This helps to keep the filling together and it also adds an extra crispness when frying.

The blue container holds the same dipping sauce (soy sauce, apple vinegar and sugar) and I added some vegetables and fruit to complete my lunch.

 

Not a packed bento lunch today… but (small) bento boxes (review)

Small bento boxes

Instead of showing a bento lunch, I am showing you some of my bento boxes in more detail. You can see my whole (current) collection in this post, and as promised, I will write a few posts describing the why/what/where’s of the bento boxes featured.

I actually didn’t make a lunch today….I was really struggling to get out of bed today and just quickly grabbed a few items. I will pop out to a shop to buy some sashimi, and all together it will still make a nice lunch, but hardly one to feature on my blog :-)

(Update: I went and bought some very nice salmon/veg pots from Itsu, so decided to upload a photo of my lunch after all… 2 Itsu to go pots, some reheated rice with salmon furikake, miso soup and seaweed crisps :-) )

my lunch today.jpg

But back to the bento boxes in  the photo…these are boxes that I actually don’t use that often, mainly because they are a bit small….I am a big eater and have found that a lot of Japanese Bento boxes are on the smallish side for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t use them at all, but sometimes just for smaller snacks.

  • pink box, can’t remember where I bought, but it was very cheap and it does feel a bit like cheap as well. No instructions on whether microwave proof. I do put it in the dishwasher though and it has survived (so far)
  • Yellow, two tier Korean Pororo set. Bought at Korean supermarket. No instructions on dishwasher/microwave use. Came with a bento belt. Very cute and fairly leak proof but just a bit small.
  • Wooden bento box. Bought on Amazon. Never used! I know! I’m actually a bit afraid of using it as this is the only untreated wooden box I have and not sure whether food will stain/smell etc. But I would really like to use it. It has only 1 compartment and a deep lid plus inner lid (all wood), so I have already been thinking that you could turn it into a two tier box and thus increase capacity. Definitely not micro/dishwasher safe though!
  • Glit & Brillia Blue Bento box (Japan Centre, around £5). Microsafe. Practical in that the smaller compartment fits into the larger compartment after you have finished your lunch. Came with bento belt. I love this box, just wish it was slightly larger… I do think that this one, plus the last one are both very good and inexpensive boxes to start with, but be aware of the size….
  • Vive style pink lunch box with compartment (Japan Centre, around £5). Microsafe and very practical with the compartments. It’s larger than the Glit & Brillia box (if you take out all the compartments). I haven’t used this box yet, because I only bought it a few weeks ago…..

Lastly, some photo’s (and links to previous posts) where I used some of the boxes above :-)

 

For the post about my Octonauts bento: see here

For the post about my Noodle bento: see here

For the post about my World Book Day bento: see here

Please note that I have not been asked/paid to review these boxes, the above is my own opinion.

Mouse or cat or ?

IMG_0833.JPG

Hello, I’m back, but this is what happens when I don’t “prepare/think” about what to pack in my lunch….a case of “identity confusion” :-)

Whilst I had all the ingredients for my lunch ready to pack, I only decided when packing it that I wanted to turn the onigiri into some cats. I thought cats would be funny as there is some fish in my lunch (in case you are wondering…the fish is the stuff that is in the blue silicone mold, it looks a bit messy, which I tried to hide by sprinkling some salmon furikake on top of it..).

But well…as you can see, they don’t really look like cats…I forgot to shape the ears, and than tried to add some ears with food picks, which somehow made them look more like mice? Or a cross between…cause? mats? strange rice thingie with eyes?

What do you think they are?

Oh, and did you notice that I did punch some cat nori on the tamago in the right hand bento container :-) ? Sort of final attempt to go for a cat theme….