More bento boxes review

 

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Yes, there are more!

Following in my series of Bento box reviews (previous posts can be read here, herehere and here….. see some more of my bento boxes, which I will discuss in this post a little bit more in detail…

I don’t really have a name for this type of boxes, although they all have a lid that is similar to the Lock & Lock range and similar qualities (practical, dishwasher proof, leak tight etc).

Some of these boxes were bought in the supermarket or general department store, I don’t know all the brands, aside from two of them.

The squarish box in the back is the Salad container from Sistema. Sistema has a range of lunch type containers, salad containers, sandwich boxes, soup bowls etc. All of them are very well made, and have either compartments, or containers or clip and close type lids, but unfortunately not all of them are leak proof and/or microwave safe. This differs from container so bear this in mind if you would buy one (they can be found in most supermarkets).

The pink box with the insert and cutlery is from Paperchase, a stationary shop which can be found in most UK High Streets, and which has a range of lunch related items. I like this box a lot, it’s cute and practical, but just a little bit small, so sometimes I pack some extra snacks with it.

Again, see the photo’s below for some examples when these boxes have been used for lunch. If you click on the photo, it should lead to the relevant blogpost:

Bento-vanEquinox-dosirak-bento

lady bird bento made from tomato and nori with a nori egg dice

chicken and egg bento

In case you’re interested…, you can see my whole (current) Bento box collection here, and I still have a few more boxes to show in another post…

Carrot flower bento

Flower bento

 

Another Bento where I used carrot flowers! If you want to know how I made the carrot flowers, you can find a short tutorial in this blog post.

In this Bento I used the carrot flowers to make a little carrot flower bouquet, the stalks are made with green beans. The flowers are lying on top of some rice, mixed with scrambled eggs and spring onion. There are some more scrambled eggs on the left, and I completed the bento with some salmon, more green beans, cauliflower and cress.

This is a very simple bento, it took less than 20 minutes to make & pack, but it’s a good example on how effective adding a few carrot flowers can be :-)

Dakbokkeumtang (Korean spicy chicken stew)

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As we’re heading from Autumn towards Winter, I feel more and more the need for warm, spicy comfort food like soups and stews. The other day I bought some chicken thighs, and was looking for a recipe to use them when I found one for Dakbokkeumtang.

Dakbokkeumtang (or dakdoritang) is Korean spicy braised chicken, and the perfect dish as it’s easy to make, I had most of the ingredients at home, it can be made in advance and (re)heated up, and it’s just so yummie & comforting!

My version is  based on the recipe from Maangchi, which you can find here. (I just saw this recipe on Beyond Kimchee, which also looks great)

  • 1 kilo of chicken thighs or drumsticks or a mix of this, cut into smaller pieces. You can use skin on, but be prepared for some fat floating on top of the stew if you do. I used chicken thigh, skinless and halved these.
  • Mix in a bowl: 1/4 cup Gochugaru (red pepper flakes), 1/4 cup Soy sauce, 1/4 cup Gochujang (red pepper paste), 1/4 cup minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
  • Add the chicken pieces and mix together.
  • Add 2-3 onions, cut in largish pieces, mix together and transfer to a large pan.

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  • Add 2 cups of water, bring to the boil and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, lid on, stir one or twice.
  • Meanwhile, clean 3-4 large potatoes and cut into largish pieces. I didn’t have potato but used sweet potato instead, which made the end result slightly sweeter as well. If you use potatoes, try to use waxy ones that will keep their shape.
  • Add to the stew and cook on medium heat for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Maangchi recommends adding 2 chopped green chillies at this point as well, but a) I didn’t have those and b) I think it’s spicy enough without.wpid-20141111_112513.jpg
  • After the second 20 minutes of cooking, take off the lid and boil for another 5-10 minutes to reduce the liquid a bit.
  • It is now ready and Maangchi recommends adding some chopped green onions just before serving.
  • However…I wanted to pack in a few more vegetables, so I chopped up some boksoi and added the stalky bits to the stew to cook for a few minutes.
  • I added the greener leafy bits of the boksoi and some green onions just before serving.
  • Enjoy! Jal meokkesseumnida!

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P.S. the rice that I’m eating with this stew is the JFC Yumenishiki. This was the European grown Japonica rice as recommended by Just Hungry.  (I wrote about trying out different brands of rice in this post). This dish doesn’t really need rice, but on the other hand…no Korean meal seems to be complete without it :-)

The Yumenishiki rice looked very round, almost like a risotto, arborio rice when uncooked, but once cooked, the grains looked more like a medium grain rice. The taste is very clean, quite neutral and the grains stick together in a nice way. But again…It still doesn’t taste as nice as Koshihikari, the Yumenishiki missed that sweet, nutty flavour the Koshikari has…. The rice journey will be continued…

Kazari Maki Sushi Flower Bento, the Art of Sushi Roll

Flower Marki Kazari sushiFirst again, welcome to new readers! Thanks for finding my blog and I hope you will enjoy reading about my lunches. To “celebrate”, I made some Sushi flowers :-)

I have been a long admirer of bloggers like Little Miss Bento (who is an official Kazarimaki sushi instructor) and Bento Days who have been making amazing Kazarimaki sushi for their bento (see examples here and here).

Kazarimaki is the Art of Sushi Rolls and I made my first attempt today! I decided on making a flower roll, and found this blog post which has a good tutorial, but made a few small changes. For the center of the flower, I used some cooked carrot, and I omitted all the green additions and the little fish eggs.

See below how I created this Kazari Maki Sushi Flower Bento:

  • First I cooked some rice and mixed it with sushi vinegar. I made the pink rice by adding some food colouring to the sushi vinegar.
  • Then I shaped 6 small pink sushi rolls.
  • I should have divided the mixture up first in equal portions, I had to sort of judge the quantity a bit to make sure they were all even.
  • When rolling the small pink rolls, I used a larger nori sheet, but cut off the bit that was superfluous, it’s easier to roll this way than using a short sheet….
  • After the 6 petals were ready, I put the cut off nori strips on a sushi mat (but in the other direction).
  • Whilst holding the sushi mat with one hand in a rounded shape, I carefully added the pink petal rolls, and added the cooked carrot stick in the middle.
  • I then “bound” it together using the nori strips to form a “sushi flower”
  • Finally I spread the white rice on a new, large nori sheet, placing the “sushi flower” on it, and rolling it up carefully (no photo’s of this process…I needed both my hands)
  • The end result was a BIG FAT sushi roll.
  • Finally: cutting the roll!!! (scary…)

  • Result! Definitely a flower :-)   (sorry for the un-sharp photo)

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The Kazari Maki Sushi Flower was packed into a Bento with veggies on the side, a piece of salmon and some nori omelet pieces. I also added gari, wasabi and soysauce.

Flower Marki Kazari sushi

I loved making this Kazari Maki Sushi, but there are a few things that I can improve next time :-)

  • The whole roll isn’t tight enough, I think that the pink petal rolls are okayish, but it should have been bound together a bit tighter.
  • Also, when rolling the big roll, unfortunately, the rice is not completely evenly around the flower, and again, this could be a bit tighter.
  • Lastly, it’s a BIG FAT roll! But I guess that’s unavoidable with this kind of design.

The lock & lock sets bento box review

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Following in my series of Bento box reviews (previous posts can be read here, here and here ….. see above my collection of Lock & Lock Bento boxes.

Lock & Lock is a Korean brand and although they aren’t very cute,  I just love their Bento sets because of their practicality!

They are all: microwave proof; dishwasher proof; leak/air tight and can also be used to freeze food. I often precook rice and freeze portions of it in the smallest containers, ready to be defrosted in the morning :-)

All sets come with a bento bag with a cute Konglish slogan to Enjoy your well-being life! (see also here), and either with chopsticks or cutlery. I buy mine via Amazon (haven’t seen them elsewhere) and depending on the size/style they will costs around £15-£25. There are different versions, but most will come with 2 or 3 containers, often one of them will have some sub-compartments.

I use these Lock & Lock bento sets very often, but the lunches I tend to pack in them can be a bit boring, ie just rice, protein and veggies. So I haven’t shown these very often on my blog, however, below are some examples where I DID use them (and the square boxes do give some scope for creativity :-)

(if you click on the photo, this should lead to the relevant post for more info)

bento with cats made of onigiri

Basic dosirak bento

Bear bento with egg sheet and bibimbap minced beef

Boy-loves-girl

tea egg bento

In case you’re interested…, you can see my whole (current) Bento box collection here, and I will still have a few more boxes to discuss in more detail in future posts….

Boy & Girl and egg sheet decoration

Boy and Girl

Following the carrot flower tutorial in my previous post, this is the bento where I used them!

I also wanted to give some more tips on how I made this bento, and how I used egg sheets for the hair details. Below are some photo’s of the stages whilst packing (apologies for the shadows, it’s difficult to make good photo’s at the moment because I don’t have enough natural light in the kitchen plus I am using my phone).

The egg sheet details have been cut out using food cutters (once again, you can buy these at the bento shops mentioned on the page where to buy Bento products). I’m always trying to think “out of the box”,  for example using the tip of the butterfly cutter to cut out little hair details, or the small cloud cutter to add detail. Food cutters can be used to create a variation of shapes by combining different cutters, or by using just a part of the cutter. I also used a straw to cut out the little red “cheeks”.

You can attach the egg sheets to the onigiri with some uncooked very thin noodle or spaghetti (see photo with the red egg sheet / hair decoration). The moisture in the rice will “cook” the noodle/spaghetti so it’s edible by the time you eat it. The other face details were made using nori (and nori punchers).

As with the carrot flower tutorial, I will include a link back to this post once I have created a new page about Dosirak/Bento packing and decorating tips….

See the photo’s below for more details (I added a short caption as explanation, this should be visible when you “hoover” above the photo) .

Carrot flowers

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Some readers have been asking me how I make the carrot flowers, so I made a small tutorial.

(I will add a link to this post on a new (to be created) page which will have more tips on how to pack/decorate Dosirak/Bento)

Carrot flowers are very easy to make, and a great way to decorate your lunch.

Basically:

  • You peel a – fairly thick- carrot and slice it in 5-6 mm slices.
  • Cook the slices for 1 min
  • I have a special flower cutter (bought mine at Japan Centre, but you can buy them at different shops, see also my page on where to buy Bento products), once the carrot has cooled down a bit, just cut the flowers
  • The petals are created / emphasized by cutting out small wedges with a knife
  • That’s all!

Meat, rice and veg Dosirak

A very simple lunch, meat and two veg. Oh, and rice of course ;-)

Meat rice and veg dosirak

Actually, it has a lot more veg in it than just two, I do like to pack different flavours and rather have a little of each, than a lot of just 1 flavour.

The meat in this Dosirak is beef bulgogi, I had marinated this overnight and just needed to quickly fry it – together with some mini courgette- for a few minutes in the morning. The other veggies just needed a few minutes as well, so another quick and healthy lunch!

Home made Carrot & Sesame Furikake rice

If you have been following my blog for a while, you will have noticed that I sometimes put Furikake on my rice.

Furikake are Japanese sprinkles/toppings/seasoning to flavour your rice (or onigiri). It is often made of a mixture of dried fish, seaweed, vegetables, herbs, sesame seeds and salt. You can buy it at Japanese grocery stores, or you can make your own!

This weekend, I decided to make some carrot & sesame furikake, I used this recipe from Just Hungry, and although it took a bit more time than I thought, it was very easy.

Her recipe says to grate 4 medium carrots and slowly dry cook in a large non stick pan (on medium heat) until reduced until 1/4, stirring occasionally.

The left photo below shows my carrots, and the right hand shows same carrot, but 25 minutes later – Maki says it takes about 15-20 minutes, but it took me 25 minutes, maybe my medium carrots are larger than hers! :-)

Once it has reduced down, you add 2 tbls of soy sauce (I accidentally added 3, but well, as I had more carrot, I don’t think it is a problem), quickly stirring until the liquid is evaporated.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of raw cane sugar or brown sugar. Stir.

Push the carrot to the sides and add 4 table spoons of sesame seeds in the middle, stir until a few start to pop, and take the pan of the heat. You can add some extra seasoning to it in the form of nanami tohgarashi (Japanese 7-ingredient red pepper powder, preferably one with yuzu peel in it), or red pepper flakes but I left it like it is.

You need to completely cool it down before storing in an airtight container in the fridge, and it will keep up to a week (depending on how “dry” your mixture is, if still very moist, it will keep shorter). Sprinkle it on rice or soup.

A cheaper & healthier furikake than shop bought plus a great way to use up carrots!