Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma and Kiiroitori Sandwiches

Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma and Kiiroitori

Do you know Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma and Kiiroitori?

I had never heard of them before until I started making bentos and encountered these cute little characters.

Apparently Rilakkuma means “bear in a relaxed mood” and he mysteriously appears in the female office lady Kaoru’s apartment one day. He is a soft toy bear who has apparently decided to take up residence there.  He was first seen in a series of picture books called Rilakkuma Seikatsu produced by San-X but since has become equally popular as a soft-toy character.

Rilakkuma is often accompanied by Korilakkuma “a mysterious white bear cub” . Kiiroitori fictionally named her Korilakkuma because she looks like little Rilakkuma (“ko” means a little child in Japanese.). She also mysteriously appeared at Kaoru’s house.

Kiiroitori is a yellow chick who lives at Kaoru’s house. Kiiroitori means “yellow bird” in Japanese.  (source Wikipedia)

My Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma and Kiiroitori characters are made from bread and cheese sandwiches, with cheese, carrot, nori and strawberry face decoration. I “glued” some of the parts together with a tiny bit of mustard, or you could use mayo. Rilakkuma turned out slightly smaller than Korilakkuma, because I cut the bread first before toasting it, not realising that this actually shrinks the bread!

Below you can see how I packed it into a bento, adding some more strawberries. This bento lacks vegetables, but I packed some cherry tomatoes separately, just forgot to include them in the photo.

Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma and Kiiroitori bento

Lock & Lock Dosirakbento

imageI’m back! Did anyone miss me ;-) ….

Hope everyone is doing well. I took a bit of a blogging break, initially just because I went away on holiday, but then 1 week turned into 2, and 2 turned into almost 3…but well, sometimes life just gets in the way…

I didn’t make any bento lunches since early April, although the rice cooker went with us on holiday :-P, if I don’t eat rice for more than 3 days I get detox symptoms (read grumpy…). Now I think about it, I did actually make some Onigirazu for taking on a picnic, but I forgot to make pictures of them.

Anyway, today I packed my lunch in one of my Lock & Lock Bento boxes. It’s a combination of Japanese and Korean inspired food, and it doesn’t really have a theme nor is it very kawaii/kwiyomi, so I kept the name simple as well :-)

The containers hold rice, broccoli and Beef Gochujang (you might remember, I posted the recipe here). I put the Beef Gochujang in a little containers as it does stain a lot and the sauce has some liquid in it.. There are also some salad leaves, more broccoli, more Beef Gochujang, some quail eggs and carrot flowers. The last container has fruit and (sweet) tamago.  I also packed some seaweed crisps for snacking.

If you are familiar with Korean BBQ you’ll know that the best way to eat is to make little parcels; ie piling rice, meat and sauce on your salad leaf and then trying to stuff it all together in your mouth. Mjammie! Or in someone else’s…I have noticed often in K-drama that people feed each other, (grand)mothers their (grand)children, couples each other… etc. It looks a bit like it’s an expression of love…quite cute I think.

Oh, talking about Kdrama, series 2 of Let’s Eat has started!!! I am a bit obsessed about K-drama that features food (how surprising!) and I loved the first season :-) Haven’t start watching the new series yet, I am waiting until all episodes are available online with subtitles and will have a Let’s Eat marathon session >*<…

Plus, life is a bit busy at the moment, so the last thing I have time for is watching Kdrama….it’s just too addictive and I can’t stop after just 1 episode….  I will be away again for a few short trips and also have family visiting this month, so not sure how much I will be blogging /reading blogs in the next couple of weeks…but hopefully will have a bit more time again next month.

Meanwhile, keep well and keep safe :-)

 

Easter Pasta for lunch

Easter pasta

Somehow I didn’t get around to creating another Easter inspired Bento after making my carrot garden. I did think about it … ideas that came up were egg shaped sushi roll, decorated quail eggs, bunny sandwiches, chicks etc etc…but well, life got in the way…

Today I suddenly remembered that I had bought some Easter shaped pasta so I used that in today’s lunch. It’s a very simple lunch, just some pasta shapes (there is a bunny, and egg and a half hatched chick) mixed with a tiny drop of oil and edamame beans. Looking now at the photo, it seems that  most of the edamame beans are in hiding… guess I will be hunting beans instead of eggs… :-)

I garnished the pasta with carrot bunnies and added some fresh pineapple and strawberries. Plus of course some chocolate eggs :-P

I am going on holiday tomorrow, and won’t be posting my lunches for the next week or so.

Meanwhile wishing everyone a Happy Easter and enjoy your (chocolate) eggs!

Dosirakbento

P.s.:  If you want to see some Easter lunches from last year, below are some photo’s (and if you click on the photo, it should lead you to the relevant blog post)

easter dosirak or bento with eggs Easter-Bento Easter bento lunch bunny sandwich bento with egg fried rice and bunny decoration in a bunny bowl

 

Carrot garden bento

carrot gardenMy first Easter themed bento for this year!

The idea for it has been shamelessly nicked... ,er, inspired by this very cute Molang rabbit planting carrots spring bento made by Bentodays.

My bunny is definitely not planting them…oh no, he (I actually haven’t decided yet whether it’s a she or a he…) is eyeing them to see if they are ready for eating :-P

I guess the chocolate bunny is also quite interested in the carrots… maybe they can share :-)

The soil is made from some minced beef with the carrots “planted” in it, on top of some rice. I completed the bento with some fruit and veggies, and a few pieces of asparagus egg roll.

Onigirazu

OnigirazuI like browsing through the WP reader, and use tags like food, lunch, rice, Japanese, Korean, art, London, recipe, random, food blog, and many many more to discover other blogs and inspiration. The other day, I found this very interesting post & tutorial about Onigirazu (you can find the full post here) by Nonbirichan.

As you know, I use quite a lot of onigiri in my lunches, sometimes very simple plain ones, other times I turn them into character bento, like boy & girl or piggies, but I had not heard of Onigirazu before. A quick internet search teaches me that apparently Onigarizu has been popular in Japan for some time now, so I guess it’s also time for me to join in :-)

If I understood it correctly, Onigiri = shaping rice, with Onigirazu = you don’t shape the rice, as in Japanese “zu” at the end of a verb makes the verb negative…(but please correct me if I am wrong). Basically you put some rice on a nori sheet, add your filling, top up with more rice and fold you nori sheet around it. Using some cling film will help to create a nice “parcel”. After resting for a few minutes, you cut the parcel to reveal the filling. The tutorial by Nonbirichan is very useful, or you can follow my step by step photo’s below.

I cheated a bit with my Onigirazu, and did shape the rice, using a square food mold. Of course you don’t need to use a mold, but it does make the process even easier :-)

The larger one (8 cm) is filled with smoked salmon and green beans; just layer up all your ingredients. The smaller one (6 cm) is filled with omelet, spinach and crabsticks. This mold is not as deep as the larger one, and I  had put too much rice in the bottom layer so was really struggling to add more rice on the top so the top layer is too thin.

Few more tips:

  • I used a little “pusher” to push down the rice and layers whilst filling. Also, when you remove the mold, keep the rice pushed down so that it won’t stick to the mold itself!
  • Another cheat: I didn’t wrap/fold it using the whole sheet…I actually made a few well placed cuts with a scissor to avoid those tricky corners…. ;-)
  • When wrapping your Onigarizu, mark the outside with a single rice kernel! This will help to show where to start cutting so that the filling is displayed nicely :-P
  • Wait a few minutes before cutting, and use a wet knife (to avoid sticking). Also cut the Onigarizu with foil and all, this will help it keep together, and also, it’s easy for packing in your bento as they won’t stick together.

 

Hello Kitty Bento

image

After making the Hello Kitty Steamed Buns (see post here), I still had some buns left over. I thought they would make a great addition to my lunches, but wasn’t quite sure how long they would keep and how best to reheat them. Luckily, as always, I could find the answer on the internet :-)

So, after the remaining buns had cooled down, I packed them individually, and froze them. For packing & reheating, just let the bun defrost overnight, or couple of hours at room temperature. When you are ready to eat it, take a piece of kitchen roll, wet it, and pack your bun in the wet paper. Pop onto a plate, into the microwave for 1.5 min high heat, and it will “steam/reheat”. The dough will get slightly chewy in the microwave, so you could also reheat the bun (without the kitchen paper) for 5 minutes or so in a steamer.

To keep my Hello Kitty Bun company, I also popped a hard boiled egg into my Hello Kitty egg mold :-)

The Hello Kitty egg is nestled on a bed of spinach, wilted and flavoured with soy sauce/sesame oil/garlic and sesame seeds, basically a Korean recipe (which you can use to top a Bibimbap, or in a Gimbap). There is some sweet chili sauce in the little container, this is for the bun. The lunch was completed with some carrot and edamame beans, some orange pieces and apple, and because it’s almost Easter, some chocolate Easter eggs :-P

 

Hello Kitty Steamed Buns

image
Some time ago I was invited to join Our Growing Edge, a monthly food blogging event, that aims to connect and inspire us to try new things. The rules are very simple, open to anyone, you don’t have to join each month, no prizes or winners, it’s just a way to share new experiences. To enter, the blog post needs to be about achieving a food related challenge that you have been meaning to do (or redo). That can be all kind of things, trying out a new cuisine, growing your own fruit & veg, mastering a new technique etc. As long as it is food related and new to the blogger :-)

There are a few more rules/submission Guidelines, which you can all find here: Our Growing Edge

I have been thinking a long time about which food challenge I wanted to try. There is lots of inspiration on other blogs/Pinterest but I wanted to choose something that fitted in with my blog subject. Initially I thought of trying out a rice cooker recipe. As some of you might know, I am in LOVE with my rice cooker, but still haven’t tried to cook anything other than rice in it…

Then, this week, I saw a fantastic tutorial on how to make Hello Kitty Steamed Buns by Bentomonsters, and thought, WOW, I want to try that. I have never made steamed buns before, so this would be a great challenge! For the full recipe and step by step instructions, please see the post at Bentomonsters, her buns look much prettier than mine, but I am still quite pleased with my results :-)

imageimage

There are a few things I learned today:

  • My steamer needs to be used more! It was hidden in the depth of my under the stairs cupboard…so I had to dust it off a bit :-). Unfortunately, it only has 1 setting, I think the buns would benefit from a slightly “lower” steam, to avoid bursting.
  • I lined the steamer with some baking parchment, which I punched a few times.
  • Dough expands! My steamed buns ended up a lot larger then I expected!!
  • Re making the buns:
    • I didn’t have the pancake mix that Bentomonsters uses, but luckily she gave an alternative recipe as well, which uses plain flour. It makes a very soft, elastic, nice feeling dough, although I was surprised that there wasn’t any yeast in it as I had seen some other steamed bun recipes that did have yeast. But it worked and tasted very good :-P
    • I would recommend covering the dough, in between various stages, with a barely wet towel, this avoids drying out. It also helps to keep the dough slightly sticky, so that  the face details don’t  keep falling off…
    • Wash your hands in between colouring the dough!!! You really have to knead the dough thoroughly to get an even colour so your hands will get quite stained… I gave Hello Kitty a green nose as I didn’t have any yellow food colouring and as I wasn’t sure whether tumeric would work or not. I also used a red colouring instead of pink for the bow.
    • I have never made steamed buns, or filled buns for that matter, so didn’t know how to pinch/pleat the dough over the filling, but I just sort of pinched it and it seemed to work fine. There was no leaking which is always good…
    • Instead of cutting the dough to create the ears, I decided to sort of “pinch” them. I cut the ears on the first bun, and unfortunately my cut was too deep or my dough too thin, and the filling spilled out. I tried to cover it up by making an extra bow, but you can see that the bun has burst
    • I had some left over coloured dough (I think that next time I would half the quantities set aside for colouring the dough), so I just made some plain buns with left over filling. Not sure how the “brown cacao” one will taste…
  • And most importantly, aside from looking cute, these buns are delicious!!! :-P

Below are my step-by-step photo’s:

It was a great new recipe to try out, and I will definitely do this again. As said, for the full recipe and instructions, see the original post at Bentomonsters. She is a very talented & creative lady and her bento’s always look amazing!

This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This month is hosted by Cynthia from EatMunchLove (who, btw, has a one-pot-tomato-rice-rice-cooker recipe that sounds like an easy recipe to finally start using my rice cooker more!)

our-growing-edge-badge

A rose to mask my smelly lunch…

a smelly lunch with cucumber kimchi

Kimchi is Korea’s national dish and it will be eaten with (almost) every meal in one form or another. Kimchi is made by fermenting vegetables, most commonly napa cabbage or radish. It’s packed full of flavour, low in calories, helps boost metabolism, and contains immune- and digestion-boosting probiotics.

Kimchi can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as a side dish (banchan), or as an ingredient for cooking like in kimchi fried rice, kimchi stew or kimchi pancake.

If you like spicy, strong and pungent flavours, you might like Kimchi, but be warned, it is very smelly!

I do like Kimchi and eat it regularly, but I don’t pack it very often in my lunch box because of the smell. I work in a small office, in an old building with bad ventilation, and we don’t have a separate room to eat our lunch. So although my colleagues are often quite interested in the contents of my lunch box, I don’t want to have them (and me) working in a room invaded by Kimchi smells!

It’s is not that difficult to make kimchi at home, every family will have it’s own recipe (allegedly there are over 180 different kimchi varieties) and Maangchi has some great recipes and also a video which answers a lot of Kimchi questions (here). But as said, be prepared for the smell…

It’s so strong that it’s no surprise there are special Kimchi fridges. Based on my limited and recent knowledge gained while watching K-drama (which is of course not the most realistic representation of Korean life…) possession of a kimchi fridge is the ultimate dream of a “proper” Korean housewife…  (But  I am happy to be corrected on this by someone with proper knowledge of Korean life). Apparently these special fridges offer not only the special storing conditions to properly ferment the kimchi, but they also keep the smell separate from your other food!

So instead of bringing Kimchi to the office, the above plate shows my lunch at home. The cucumber kimchi is shop bought and so is the Musaengchae (radish banchan). Lots of cherry tomatoes and plain cucumber to counteract the kimchi (actually cucumber kimchi is pretty mild because of the high water content of cucumber – compared to cabbage kimchi – but it’s still very smelly), plus some carrot bits and cress. There are also the end bits of a Korean omelet which I prepared for lunches later (I freeze part of it in portions)

Obviously, the single rose can’t mask the smell at all, but I had just bought some roses and was sad to discover one stem had broken. Luckily the stem was still long enough to pop into a small vase, which looks cute next to my plate.

Inside out…

image

Fancied some sushi today and as I had more time, I attempted to make inside out roll…and failed :-(

Everything went fine up to the process of rolling it…I was really struggling to make sure I didn’t catch roll the plastic foil (needed to make an inside out maki roll) with it, but failed to ensure the maki was rolled up tightly enough. You can see that the ingredients are way too loose and risk falling out….

Oh well, it will still taste very nice :-P

The sushi is made with danmuji, crabstick, omelet and crabsticks. Pus sesame seeds for the inside out roll

A Bear in Bath

Bear-in-bath

I do wonder whether Bear will actually get clean in this bath…..

The “bathwater” is some Japanese curry (see recipe below) and the bear is made with rice and carrot and nori face details. The hands and feet are quail eggs and nori.

Japanese curry is very popular in Japan and quite different in taste from Indian or Thai curry. Curry was introduced to Japan by the British in late 1800 and adapted to the Japanese taste, it’s quite thick and sweet and always served with rice. There are usually three degrees of spiciness: mild, medium hot or hot.

You can make your own Japanese curry powder (see this recipe from Just Hungry) but it’s much easier to buy a box of Japanese curry roux!  You can find Japanese curry sauce/roux in Asian supermarkets or sometimes in the Asian aisle of your regular supermarket. As I had never made this before, I wasn’t quite sure which brand to choose, in the end I choose S&B Golden Curry (sauce mix), Medium Hot as it had a very easy recipe on the back :-)

Recipe for 2-3 persons

  • Heat 1-2 table spoon vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed pan (I like using Le Creuset iron cast pans for these kind of dishes)
  • Fry 1 large chopped onion in the oil together with 200-300 gr cubed chicken (or beef) until the onions are soft and slightly brown. (I used 3 chicken thighs)
  • Add 1 medium potato per person, cubed and 1 medium carrot per person, also cubed. Stir and fry gentle for a few more minutes.
  • Add about 600 ml water, bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer until meat is tender and potato/carrot are cooked, approx 15-20 minutes.
  • Add the quantity roux cubes as needed. The packet had 8 portions, divided in 2 x 4 cubes in foil packed containers. I added 2 cubes to my dish (I stored the left over 2 cubes in an air tight container in the fridge).
  • Make sure you stir well until the cubes are completely melted, the mixture will thicken very quickly, so you might want to add a bit more water if needed.
  • Continue to simmer for a further 5 minutes whilst constantly stirring.
  • Serve hot with rice (or with bear…)

Enjoy!