No bento today

I had actually written a bento blog post to be scheduled for today, but now I don’t really feel like posting it. Although I keep my blog a-politic and neutral,  and will continue to do so, I didn’t think it right to completely ignore what has been happening in recent days.

As the majority of my readers know, I live in London, and luckily no-one I know has been affected by the latest attack. Not physically that it. Most of us are affected emotionally.  It affects our daily lives, it colours our activities and thoughts.

But at the same time, life goes on as usual. It has to. We will not let them win.

Take care and keep safe.

DB

 

 

 

 

I now also share more (food) photos on Instagram

Haemul Pajeon 해물파전 (seafood pancake)

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My attempt at making Haemul Pajeon 해물파전!

I love this Korean pancake made with green onions (pa) and seafood (haemul) and often order it in Korean restaurants. It always appears on the table perfectly golden and crispy but recreating this at home proved to be a bit tricky….

There are lots of amazing Korean food bloggers that I look at for recipes but unfortunately for this dish I found quite a bit of variations in the recipe/method, especially in which flour is used for the batter and how the ingredients are mixed/the order in which they are used.

Maangchi, often my first go-to-source, has a pajeon recipe with the shortest ingredients list. Seafood only gets mentioned halfway as an optional addition and her batter is quite plain although she does use soybean paste (and sugar) for flavouring.  There is no addition of egg and she uses plain flour whilst others seem to recommend cake flour, rice flour or a ready made Korean pancake mix.

If I understand Hyosun from Korean Bapsang correctly, Korean pancake mix can be easily made by mixing flour with rice flour/corn starch and some flavouring like garlic and ginger.  Nami from JustoneCookbook  uses cake flour which seems to be a mix of flour with corn starch .  The ladies from CrazyKoreancooking use the ready mix or plain flour  and JinJoo from Kimchimari uses a mix from plain flour with different rice flours. She also uses anchovy stock to flavour the batter and is the only one who adds seasoned minced beef to this dish (and minari).

The reason for all these variations in flour seems to be to ensure a crispy result. Apparently the gluten in normal flour can give a doughy result which makes sense I guess thinking of French crepes and English pancakes.

Aside from the flour, the other big difference is how the ingredients are mixed/ in which order they are being used.

After mixing the batter, some recipes add the seafood to the batter itself whilst other add it later. Some mix the egg into the batter as well, others add it almost to the end. The green onions go into the pan first, or on top of the batter. (It is even mentioned that you could also mix all the ingredients together instead of layering it separately).

The main ingredients all seem to be the same though, a batter (preferable to contain some rice/cornstarch), green onions, seafood, water, oil and an egg. Optional flavourings are chilies, ginger, garlic and salt.

It’s worth exploring all these different recipes and see what works out best, but as I only had limited time (and ingredients), I went ahead and used Maangchi’s and Kimchimari’s recipe as my main inspiration.

I don’t have any precise quantities but this is what I used:

  • The batter: I mixed equal amounts of glutenfree flour with water. To this I added a tablespoon of cornstarch plus an egg and mixed well until a smooth and fairly thin batter.  I also added a pinch of dried ginger, garlic and salt to it. (The amount of batter shown in the photo is way too much, I only used about a third of it).
  • Green onions: cleaned and cut to size to fit into a frying pan. I also halved them lengthwise.
  • Seafood: I use a mix of (defrosted frozen) seafood which I chopped up roughly as I prefer smaller pieces in my pancake.
  • The dish on the left has the dipping sauce, prepare this before you start frying your pancake as you want to eat the pancake as soon as possible whilst still hot & crispy! I make mine from equal quantities soy sauce, vinegar and water, a little bit of sugar and some finely chopped green onion. I also like to add a drop of sesame oil.

How did I make it?

  • Heat up some vegetable oil in a frying pan (medium to high heat) and add the green onions. Press down so that it has maximum contact with the bottom of the pan
  • Add the seafood on top of the onions, dividing it evenly
  • Poor the batter over this, make sure any holes are filled but don’t cover the onions/seafood completely. A thick batter will take longer to cook, making it tough and doughy.
  • Continue to fry, lower heat if needed, until the batter seems almost cooked on top. Turn over carefully  and fry the other side for a further 2-3 minutes until fully cooked.
  • Serve with dipping sauce!

Mine was delicious but not crispy enough so I guess I will have to experiment a bit more and make this again 😛

 

Have you made this at home? Any tips on how to get it extra crispy? Looking forward to hear from you in the comments 🙂

I now also share more (food) photos on Instagram

More thoughts on blogging

I have previously written a post about how I feel about blogging, it remains the most read post on my blog, so clearly it struck a chord with readers. That post was written 2.5 years ago, and this morning, I suddenly felt I needed to write some more thoughts on this subject.

You see, after I take a break from blogging, like I did recently, I tend to do the same things over and over again. I quickly write down a few draft ideas to blog about in the next few weeks. And I go on an extended blog surfing trip. Not only am I catching up on the blogs I already follow, I also try to find new bloggers, follow links leading to other links, hook up at a meet & greet (can I recommend again the one at Harsh Reality), check out WordPress suggestions etc. I usually end up with adding a few more blogs to my Reader and more inspiration for my own blog.

This time however I noticed something. Namely that a lot of new bloggers announce in their first blog post that they have thought a long time about blogging and did a lot of research and/or read blog/books about blogging before their first post. I actually can’t remember doing that. I remember that one day I thought, well, why not start a blog and I just started. After that start, yes, I got dragged into the whole blog atmosphere, making connections, monitoring stats and likes, finding blog parties, but nope, all my research before starting the blog consisted of a 15 min look around which blog platform to use (= which one is free and looks easy to navigate) and another hour or so selecting a format.

Naive? Maybe. But then I never set out to be a professional blogger, to make money from it, or to promote a business. Of course, I would be quite happy to be given kitchen gadgets to review, think that could be quite a fun thing to do 🙂 but that’s not why I started this blog. I am also not a writer (I struggle sometimes to get out a coherent sentence) so there is no aim to turn my blog eventually into a (e-)book or into a cookbook. I just want to blog about what I like to eat  – mainly for lunch – and what I like to bake.  And for the last 3 years I have enjoyed blogging, although I do sometimes take a break because of lack of time, inspiration, life getting in the way, or just because I get distracted by other things.

I am actually slowly embracing other forms of Social Media. I still don’t like Facebook and don’t use it, and although I (think I) am on Bloglovin, I never really have gotten the hang of it, nor of Twitter/Pinterest. I do like Instagram though. Often I have made, eaten or seen something I quite like sharing but don’t want to write a blog post about and I do find Instagram is great for that kind of thing. Here again though I am sort of blundering my way through it, finding out how it works after I already pressed the share button, so again a case of “do first – check out how it works later”. The silly thing is that this is not actually how I am. I am a person who very much likes to be prepared, be organised, so just doing things without a proper research is not me.

And that brings me to another thought that kept coming up in my mind the last few weeks which was how impressed I am by some (new) bloggers out there, whilst at the same time realising that their blog style isn’t suitable for me. For example, two of my friends are bloggers, one of them has blogged a bit longer than I have and the other one has recently  started. Whilst both of them are in different countries, and the subject of their blogs is different, they do have in common that their blogs are both well thought out. Well prepped and set up. Their lay-out looks professional. They are clear in the style and message they want to bring out and both have (I assume affiliated) links to products, or give aways. They were both well prepared before they started blogging. More importantly, they both are very personal bloggers. With personal I mean, they blog under their own name, and share photos of their personal life.

I like the anonymity of blogging. Like? I love it. That’s also the reason why I haven’t promoted these 2 blogs or linked to them. Because I like my anonymity. And a little part of me fears that I can be linked to them through their blog. Of course my family and friends know that I blog, most of them do follow or read my blog. And when I meet new people, it sometimes comes up. But – as far as I know – no one else out there can link this blog to me. I avoid mentioning names of friends/family, avoid detailed locations or photo’s that show me. (Yes, I do check reflections in photos). I don’t share too many details of my life. If you would turn detective, I assume that most readers will have figured out that I live in London (given that I wrote a whole blog post about it), that I am female and have an OH. If you dig deeper you might also find out my OH is Welsh and am sure there are more bits and pieces that can be deduced. But there are not many “concrete facts”, nothing that is hard evidence that links Dosirakbento to who I am in real life. I even screen comments…. any comment that uses my real name gets spammed automatically.

Does that make me paranoid? Or fake? I don’t lie on my blog, what I write and post is still who I am, what I think, what I do, what I eat, everything is real, everything is personal in that way. I think the biggest reason for me not to publish my name is that deep down I am a private person. I also don’t like the idea that everything I have typed and posted out there, will remain for eternity (or whatever counts for eternity in blogging land) out there for anyone, anywhere to see and read. So I hide behind the anonymity that blogging can provide.

The silly thing is, I like reading other people’s personal blogs. I like having a little insight in somebody’s life. I love the thoughts and ideas, the daily, weekly, monthly high lights and low lights in their life. I feel happy for bloggers – who I have never met in real life- when something good happens, or sad when something bad takes place. So I don’t have any issue with them sharing their personal info, just with my own….

Which brings me to a question for my readers. What are your thoughts on sharing personal information like your real name and photos of yourself/family/friends? Where is the line between sharing details of someone’s life but not sharing similar details of your own? It’s not like bloggers are friends in real life but at the same time there is this close blogging community and I do know that some bloggers meet in real life at events and do become friends in real life as well.  I guess that each blogger has the prerogative to make that choice, and has to decide what is best for her/him. At the moment I do feel comfortable with what I do share with my readers but I am interested to read your thoughts in the comments.

And because my blog is after all about lunches and cakes, I’m sharing this recently made cake.

It’s definitely cake time here in London!

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Happy Valentine!

Valentine bento

I know! It has been some time since my last post but I thought today would be a great date to restart blogging again.

Today is actually 3 years ago that I started this blog, and a lot has changed. I can remember how totally obsessed I was with making bento during the first months, I bought loads and loads of bento stuff and spent so much time creating them. Since then my focus has shifted, I discovered cake decorating and a lot of my free time was taken up with that instead of making dosirak/bento. So sometimes I blogged about my cakes instead. Or took some time of blogging because I felt uninspired, my lunches were boring or life got in the way.

Anyway, 3 years later, I’m still there and although I don’t want to make any promises about how often I will blog or how active I will be be, but it’s good to be back again. I would also like to thank again all my readers, followers and people who comment. It always surprises me that even when I don’t have anything new to show, my blog is still being seen and liked.

So this Valentine Day inspired dosirakbento today is to show my love for all of of you! 🙂

In the box at the back, there is some pink sushi rice, which I tried to shape in a heart but not totally successful…, with heart shaped vegetables. The box in the front has some Korean meatballs, and more of the pink rice and heart shaped veggies. And I love how the beet slices are bleeding a bit onto the radish, this was not planned, but it does look very pretty!

The Korean meatballs are my own invention, I used some beef mince and mixed that with Gochujang, soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil before shaping that into small meatballs and frying. They are great to pack into boxes and freeze well, so I made a batch to use in the coming weeks.

I hope that you have a lovely Valentine’s Day, and here are a few links to some of my previous posts that highlight (my) LOVE (for food)!

A cute boy loves girl bento made from onigiri.

I had my first blog anniversary and remade my Bunnies in Love.

Who says eggs are boring? These lovebirds were created with eggs.

And cake can be turned into love too, as these halloween pumpkin wedding couple prove.

 

Carrot men eating my lunch…

imageHelp, my lunch is being eaten by the carrot men!

Made a very quick lunch today and thought to add some fun by punching out these little men out of some carrot disks. I have not really gotten around to make a lot of bento recently. Partly that’s because I am so busy with decorating this year’s Christmas cakes. I made 4 (!) which will all be decorated differently and although it’s fun to do, it does take a lot of time. I’m hoping to post a photo of them all before Christmas. Currently no 2 is finished and have started on no 3….

Another reason why I haven’t been making a lot of bento is because I have been eating a lot less rice in recent weeks. Since winter has started, and temperatures dropping, I have been craving lots of comfort food like stews and oven dishes. Although I did make some Korean comfort food like Sundubu Jjigae, most other food has included potatoes and pasta. My taste buds seem to work that way, some months can go by without me eating any pasta at all, but than suddenly all I seem to want is spaghetti, macaroni cheese and lasagne! The same for potatoes, for the last weeks I’m yearning for mash, mash and more mash!  At some point my taste buds will call out for rice again, but for the moment I am indulging them.

However, even potatoes can be turned into a lunch, and I have packed them in the past, like with this Gamjajorim dish. Today’s lunch had potatoes in the form of a tortilla, always easy to make,  it can be prepared in advance and you can use up any left overs you have.

Recipe: Heat some oil in an non stick, oven proof, frying pan and add your filling of choice. I used onion, potatoes and garlic sausage. Fry for a few minutes until lightly coloured, whilst stirring regularly, and until potatoes are halfway cooked. Preheat oven or grill. Beat 2-3 eggs with some seasoning and add to frying pan, making sure the filing is evenly distributed. Fry for a minute more until slightly set and finish off under grill/in oven until firmly set. Can be eaten warm, tepid or cooled down and cut in pieces for your lunch 🙂

 

Chasing away the rainy Monday Blues…

A cold, grey and wet Monday. Some days I just want to stay in bed! Obviously only with the remote control within reaching distance and copious amounts of tea, biscuits and other goodies 😀…

Unfortunately staying in bed was not an option today so I consoled myself with the second best alternative: comforting Korean food. 

Regular readers will know how much I love Dolsot Bibimbap so what better way to chase away my rainy Monday Blues than treating myself to a lunch out!

A lovely comforting bowl full of rice, veggies, beef and egg crisping up. Spicy gochujang sauce for that extra kick. Some soup and side dishes, the kimchi side will help combat any cold and sniffles the rain might bring on. 

Am feeling much better already 😊

Do you have any food favourites to combat the Monday Blues?

Not an egg roll

Bento with egg

Didn’t know what to call this bento today.

That’s the thing with blogging, not only coming up with ideas to pack for my lunch that are “blogworthy” (looking a bit pretty in a box) but also writing a blog post about it and coming up with a title. Sometimes I have a title or blog post in my head before even making the lunch but often it’s the other way around.

Anyway, my bento today doesn’t have an egg roll in it but it when I was rolling up the green beans in omelet strips it did make me think of egg rolls somehow. Not sure how my brain was working this morning… The egg roll that I was thinking off this morning are the savoury, deep fried ones, stuffed with bean sprouts or vegetables but I just googled egg roll and according to wiki, here in the UK an egg roll can also refer to fried egg in a bread roll. Isn’t language funny?

Aside from the “beans-in-omelet-roll”, I also packed another egg. This one is hard boiled, and you might not be able to see it properly but I “squared” it in my nifty egg cube shaper before cutting it in half to fit into my bento box. I don’t often have fruit in my bento, usually pack/eat it separately but am eating lots of black grapes at the moment and they fitted in nicely. The compartment with rice looks a bit small, but I compressed the rice quite tightly and managed to squeeze in quite a lot.

Although not very pretty, this is one of my favourite bento boxes because it’s so practical.  It has lots of lovely compartments – which makes it easy to pack lots of different items – and they can be taken out to use the box in different ways. And of course the handy chop sticks in the lid.

I posted a long time ago about all my different bento boxes (I have loads – see this post...) and if you are interested in bento boxes, I also wrote a few blog posts about specific boxes in my collection. If you select “bento box review” in the categories you can read more or click here and here.

Happy bentoing!

 

P.s. I just looked back at my post of October 2014 with my bento box collection and I have been quite good! Good in the sense of using most of them regularly and not adding too many new boxes. I did get a few large bento boxes  that are more suitable for a sit down lunch or dinner than for packing lunch, and also one or two other ones. Am currently dithering about whether to get a Monbento one or not. They look pretty (I love the limited edition food battle or floral one) and practical  and have good reviews but am just not sure how much added value they would bring to my collection (size and shape wise) …

Hmm… to be continued 🙂

 

Quick bento

imageNothing exciting, just a very quick lunch from left over rice & meatballs. Although I did “make” a “Japanese Flag”… 🙂

Am a bit busy with other kitchen activities, might post about that next week.

Until then, keep well & take care!

 

P.s. am trying to catch up on posts via my WP reader..but a) some blog posts don’t show up anymore in my WP reader – ie very annoying and b) I need more time!

As I actually commented recently in reaction to another blogger’s post about whether you can be lonely as a blogger, I had to respond I don’t feel lonely at all.

Before I started to blog, I wasn’t that much into Social Media and not aware at all of all the blogger communities, interaction, groups etc etc that exist. Only once I started blogging I discovered all these other people, and now I have a lot of interaction with bloggers all over the world. These are people I would never have “met”  were it not for “Blogland”

Have to say I have also been lucky as almost all of the bloggers I interact with are friendly, and give great feedback or advice on my blog. In my turn I try to make new contacts with other bloggers by finding new blogs (using the WP tag function) and by liking & commenting on other blog(post)s.

So, my blogging limitation (aside from technical knowledge) is more time related. I wish I had more time to invest in my own blog, as there are so many ideas in my head that I want to create.

But I also wish I had more time to interact more with others as giving and receiving feedback/comments is really motivational. 

Onigirazu & Blogs I follow

OnigirazuAnother Onigirazu lunch!

Onigiri or Onigirazu are a great way to use up leftovers. My filling this time was some left over cooked salmon and green beans from dinner + some smoked salmon that needed finishing. I added some radishes, cherries and an apricot towards my five-a-day 🙂

You can find a tutorial on how to make Onigirazu in the post here

So re the title bit that says: Blogs I Follow: I know that some of my readers will see only a limited part of my blog, ie only the blog post itself, but as others will know, I do have some other pages on my blog like Where to buy bento products, Packing and decorating tips and also a page about Blogs I Follow. I don’t update these pages very often, only when I think about it (and when I have time), but I thought it would be a good moment to revisit some of the Blogs I Follow. Not only to see if they still exist… but also to see again why they are inspirational to me.

When I started blogging in Feb 2014, I was quite new to the world of lunch boxes, and I googled a lot to find other blogs about lunches/lunchboxes/bento and consequently followed a lot of bloggers (on WP alone about 300 apparently..) The majority of my bento ideas were & are often shamelessly nicked  ehh inspired by other very talented bento bloggers.  And although I always will try to link back to these blogs, sometimes I forget, or quite often I also can’t remember where I got my idea from, whose blog or lunch inspired me, or whose photo had me grabbing my bento tools to get started!

I also used to be part of a few bento linkup parties, but unfortunately some of these have stopped completely or others are continuing in another format where I feel my blog doesn’t really belong anymore (mainly aimed at children’s food/snacks – whilst my lunches are aimed for me…an adult who occasionally likes cute bunnies in her lunch box.. 🙂

However they are a great way to meet other bloggers and get inspiration, and I will still try to see if there are other (food related) link-up parties I can join, but maybe some that are less bento specific (for example, like Our Growing Edge).

I have been wondering if there was a way for me to “link up” with the blogs that I find inspirational, but my technical blogging skills are limited and I won’t have the time to host a link up party.  But quite recently I dedicated a blog to another bento blogger (Einfach Bento, see this post), so I was thinking, hmmm I could do this, promote inspirational blogs on my blog by writing about them! Also, it would be a great way to revisit and clean up my Blogs I Follow list 🙂

The only problems I can foresee are that it will take me ages (lots of inspirational bloggers on my list!), I don’t want to write a separate post for it – I’d rather include it in an blog post that I am already writing, and I don’t want to commit myself to a “weekly” revisit blog post. But those are minor issues, and the only way to know is to get started!

So, long story, but in short:

  • I will slowly revisit in random order my Blogs I Follow list
  • I will “clean up” the list and add comments to each blog
  • I will sometimes “highlight/promote” a revisited blog in a blog post

to be continued….