Omurice Bento

Today’s Bento is an Omurice Chick!

Omurice or Japanese Omelet rice is a fusion between fried rice and omelet. The rice is usually pan-fried with ketchup and chicken before being wrapped in thin sheet of egg and a great way to use up leftovers.

According to Hyosun from Korean Bapsang, omurice gained a lot of popularity after appearing in a Korean drama called Rooftop Prince (옥탑방 왕세자). She also gives a recipe if you would like to make this at home.

Most omurice versions will have some more ketchup drizzled on top of the omelet, but I turned mine into a chick by adding some face decoration made from carrot and cucumber. I completed this bento with some more veggies and raspberries. There is some soy sauce in the cute little chick bottle.

 

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Trio of prawns

prawn bentoI do like prawns. Whether they are the tiny brown variety (which I think they call shrimp here in the UK) or the large tiger ones, I think prawns are delicious. Steamed, stir fried, tempura or a prawn cocktail, or added to pasta or soup, it doesn’t really matter how they are prepared, as long as they are not raw! I know that some (better) sushi shops offer a prawn nigiri made with a special prawn variety which I have tried several times, but there is just something in the texture that puts me off. But other than that, bring it on!

I have packed prawns before, some readers might remember the Song of the shrimp (and yes, I am humming the song whilst eating this lunch), or the home made prawn patties. I think that as long as prawns are cooked, it is perfectly safe to pack for lunch, but you might consider packing a cool pack or storing your lunch in the fridge if it’s a warm day. My lunch today was kept in the fridge, and I only reheated part of it in the microwave when I wanted to eat it.

So, which trio of prawn did I pack today? On the left there is some sweet & sour prawn. I bought this ready made at the Korean supermarket, so unfortunately I do not have a recipe. (I would love to find one, as it is delicious, so if any of my readers has made this dish, please feel welcome to share (your link) in the comments). Next to that are two prawn gyoza and two prawn dim sum (I think they are called siu mai). I usually buy these either ready to eat from a sushi shop, or frozen from the Korean supermarket. They can be packed cold and just need a minute or two in a steamer or microwave before eating. There is a little container of soya sauce for dipping, and I decorated with a few pickled danmuji flowers (danmuji = Korean pickled radish).

More flowers, this time vegetable ones, are in the other container, and also some radish and fruit to complete my lunch. I packed it all in my nice new lunch bag, which I was given by a friend (thanks G, I love it and use it daily). I do have a few specific bento bags, for example the one with the lovely Konglish slogan to Enjoy your well being life 🙂 but this new bag is a bit larger so most of my bento boxes fit in it with room to spare for a set of chopsticks/utensils, a small bottle of water, additional tubs/containers with rice, or fruit, or sweets etc.

I don’t know why, but this lunch makes me feel all ready for the Spring/Summer. I guess it’s because it’s quite a light lunch and full of colours, so it just makes me feel all happy and nice! Can’t wait for the berry season to start so that I can add even more colours to my lunches!

 

Yaki onigiri

Yaki Onigiri

Some left over rice turned into a simple but tasty snack: Yaki Onigiri!

Yaki means grilled, and Onigiri is a rice ball. Usually Onigiri are filled with all kinds of ingredients and/or wrapped in seaweed, but instead of filling, a Yaki Onigiri is grilled on a BBQ and brushed with soy sauce or miso.

Instead of a BBQ, I am using a heavy duty frying pan to obtain the same effect. First I shape the rice into triangles, making sure I really press the rice firmly together as otherwise it will fall apart later.

I then fry each side for a few minutes in a little oil on medium heat.  You can use vegetable oil or even butter but I like add some sesame oil to plain vegetable oil to enhance the flavour. After each side has crisped up – this usually takes a few minutes, avoiding to turn too often, I brush some soy sauce on each side before frying a further minute until done. Instead of soy sauce you could also use miso paste or even BBQ sauce!

I like eating Yaki Onigiri with some pickles.

 

Asian seafood soup

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Packed an Asian inspired sea food soup for my lunch.

I did not follow any recipe, just made a basic fish stock with some fish stock granules, dried anchovies and miso. Added some more flavour with fish sauce and soup soy sauce (Guk Ganjang) and wakame. Further filled it with carrot, leek and mini corn and of course sea food.  I used tiger prawns, crabsticks, mixed seafood (octopus, mussels, prawns) and some crab fish balls that I had cut up in smaller pieces.

Very easy and delicious.

The fruit is Korean melon. Never tried it before, but it was smelling so delicious so thought to give it a try.

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To be honest, it was a bit disappointing as the taste didn’t live up to the promising smell. Based on that, I was expecting it to taste like a cantaloupe, maybe even sweeter, but instead the flavour was very light, more like a pear than a melon.  It has a very thin rind, and the texture is very crisp, quite juicy, refreshing and nice but just not what I expected! Was good to try out though 🙂

 

Sushi burger

sushi rice burger

This time a sushi burger!

After last week’s gigantic Hamburger cake I made this burger from sushi rice. A lot easier 🙂

I used some metal food rings and cling film and just added the rice and ingredients layer by layer. My favourite sushi fillings are salmon or crab, cucumber and avocado, and in this case I used smoked salmon. The cling film is very useful to avoid that the ingredients stick to the metal ring but more importantly to help press the ingredients down so that you get a nice and tidy layers in the “burger”.

The sushi burgers were served on some cucumber slices and added a simple decoration to make it look prettier. This could also work great as a starter, or you could wrap these in nori and turn them into Onigirazu for a (bento) lunch.

Temari sushi bento

temari sushi bento

Today I packed some temari sushi which is very easy to make. Basically they are little sushi rice balls with your favourite topping.

To create these, you first need to make some sushi rice. Cook short grain rice according to instructions on the pack and mix with sushi vinegar. If you want, you can use ready bought sushi vinegar/seasoning, but it is very simple to make yourself, for example Just One Cookbook has this step by step recipe.

For the toppings in my temari sushi, I used smoked salmon, cucumber, avocado and also made a thin omelet.  Any topping goes as long as it is sliced thinly and where needed cooked/blanched/prepped. Also, the temari sushi will look prettiest if you use contrasting colours (like salmon and cucumber) or bright coloured food so it stands out from the rice.

To form the temari sushi balls, you first place the topping of choice in the middle of a piece of clingfilm and then add about 1/4 -1/3 rice spoon  of cooked rice on top*. Now gather up the cling film around the rice, twist and shape the rice/topping into a ball. By twisting the cling film and tightening up the rice ball, you ensure that the topping “follows” the curve of the ball.

Keep the temari sushi wrapped until you have finished with all your ingredients. Remove the cling film and garnish with herbs, small food flowers or nori strips. These are great for serving as appetizers or on a buffet. Or in your bento 🙂

 

* Alternatively, if you want to make sure your Temari sushi are all even sized, you can pre-portion your rice balls either by weight, or by using an an onigiri mold. In either case keep the rice balls covered until you use them to avoid drying out.

 

Grumpy Onigiri

Grumpy-onigiri

I guess these Onigiri have the Monday Blues!

Last week I was chatting with a colleague about my blog and joking about doing an Onigiri funny faces workshop. It made me reflect that all my Onigiri faces made so far have always been a happy mix like in my Onigiri faces and Picnic bento or cute Boy loves girl. I have also turned Onigiri in Bunnies (I love bunnies, but I guess that doesn’t surprise anyone given my avatar, or another favourite of mine, these cute Piggies!

But I have never made grumpy Onigiri before so I thought it was time to do so!

These definitely have the Monday grumpiness… probably had a weekend full of partying and are now suffering from a hangover…

Hope you’re not suffering from the Monday Blues!

Any suggestions about what else I can create with Onigiri are welcome in the comments.

Chicken Teriyaki Bento

Bento with teriyaki

Finally a bento again!

Quite a simple one, no fancy cutters or cute smiley faces, but a very nice one in taste.

I actually copied this bento from another blogger, Mr Masa (see his blogpost here). Mr Masa is a Japanese chef, sharing his (mostly Japanese) recipes with us. I love his blog, it is so well laid out, the recipes are easy to make, explained step by step with lots of photos and most importantly taste very good!

Some of his recipes are very suitable for Bento and he also gives lots of tips & trips. If you’re interested in cooking Japanese food, check out his blog.

You will also notice that the rice in this Bento is coloured. It is actually black rice, and pre-cooked-shop bought! As you know, I am a bit of a rice snob and also in love with my (Japanese) rice cooker. BUT, variety is good, and sometimes the microwave is very convenient :-).

There are lots of ready cooked microwaveable rice packs/brands on the market, I have no idea whether this one is better than others, actually I am not even sure what black rice is (mixed with white rice it does look purple instead of black) but I really like the taste of this one. The portion is quite generous for a lunch though, so I only packed 3/4 of it.

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My bento box is different than the one Mr Masa is using, plus I made a lot more of his crispy potato/carrot salad (so delicious!), so I packed it slightly different. Other small changes were replacing the umeboshi with a cherry tomato, and using thinly sliced cucumber instead of salad leaves underneath the chicken.

This blog post is part of my attempt to clean up my Blogs I Follow list

Hosomaki – thin sushi roll bento

hosomakiRolling sushi is not my best culinary skill, especially in the morning, but I was so happy that I finally had a perfectly ripe avocado, that I couldn’t resist making some quick hosomaki for my bento today.

Hosomaki are thin sushi rolls, with only 1 ingredient. I made avocado and crabstick hosomaki, with some wasabi added for the crabstick ones – hence the greenish rice. I didn’t have much time left over to pack my bento, so just added some cherry tomatoes, little soy sauce bottles and a small container with gari (pickled ginger).

This bento box comes with it’s own chopsticks and chopstick rest, cleverly hidden under it’s top lid.

And maybe I am being very silly….but I wish they were able to produce square – and always perfectly ripe -avocado’s! Can you imagine how much easier it would be to cut  for your sushi filling… 🙂

 

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!