Mr and Mrs Panda

A bit of an improvement of the last Panda bento I made!

Hadn’t made tamagoyaki in a very long time and fancied it so made some to pack with the onigiri. The onigiri are filled with umeboshi, and I completed the bento with some vegetables.

I love this  Russian doll bento box, should use it a bit more often as it comes with it’s own bento bag and has a matching set of chopsticks (you can see the bag in this post). So cute! The only downside is that it is quite small, more geared towards a child than an adult.

Meanwhile, I am busy preparing the cake I am making for the Wonky Supper Club later this week. The design of it will be vegetable & fruit inspired and today I started to create some of it. I will share some photos later this week, either here or or on Instagram

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Panda Bento

This is my panda bento attempt! I think it looks more like a teddy bear than a panda, probably because of the ears…. but oh well…it looks sort of cute.

Was feeling like I wanted to make a kawaii/qwiyomi type lunch as it has been quite some time that I made one, I think the last one was this Miffy bento so I guess I need to practice my skills again 🙂

The panda-teddy is made from onigiri and I filled it with an umuboshi plum and added details with nori. He is holding a carrot flower and is “standing” on some Korean meatballs I made & froze earlier this year (I pack these frozen as they will keep my bento nice and cool and will be defrosted and at room temperature by lunch time).

The other container has some tamagoyaki, more carrot flowers, cherry tomatoes and some raisins, plus there are various bits and pieces of veggies/leaves tucked in around the main items.

Will try and make another panda bento soon!

I now also share more (food) photos on Instagram

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.

 

Piggies on a picnic

pig onigiri bento

Felt like making some cute onigiri today and created this piggy family going on a picnic.

I made these onigiri piggies before (see my step by step tutorial); they are very easy to make although it helps if you have the pink sushi rice colouring (I buy mine from Japan, but you could use natural food colouring like beet).

The picnic the piggies took with them was: some salmon – hidden inside themselves :-), edamame and green beans, mini corn,  flowers made from carrot and omelet and some pickled radish in soy sauce (나래 오보채). Also for dessert a choco pie.

It is quite a lot of rice, so I packed it in one of my larger bento boxes.

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.

Caterpillar Bento & Korean translation help?

caterpillar bentoMade another caterpillar bento (this was my previous one) 

This time the “earth” is made from some precooked marinated beef (soy & garlic), and I also put a little bit of the beef in each onigiri. Added carrots, asparagus, green beans and courgette. Plus some carrot flowers, a radish flower and quail egg flowers.

The quail eggs are coloured with food colouring, but I used a bit too much for the blue one…it is rather vibrant blue isn’t it? I read somewhere that in nature the colour blue signals danger/poison, but in this case the egg flower is edible!

You might also have spotted that I have a new bento box! Couldn’t resist it as it was very cheap, on special in the Korean supermarket…. Plus an useful shape which I don’t have yet.. 🙂

Yep…I am just trying to justify another box…. But it really does look like a practical box that I can use often, it has a lid with pop up handle to carry it, and a “thingie” to close the box airtight. It is metal lined inside so should retain heat/cold bit longer than my other boxes, but this also means it will not be microwave proof.

The only problem I have (aside from finding space to store it)  is that that I can’t read the instructions so I don’t know whether it’s dishwasher proof….  – my Korean is limited to deciphering the menu and an occasional hello or thank you…

I have posted below photo’s of the little booklet, and am hoping that any of my lovely readers could help me out on this :-). Looking forward to see some translation help in the comments…

Kimchi & Onigiri Dosirakbento

kimchi-onigiri-dosirak-bentoThis actually might be the sort of lunch that my blog is all about: Korean and Japanese food inspired lunchboxes! The Korean dosirak is represented by the Kimchi and the Japanese bento is represented by the Onigiri 🙂

It is not a fancy lunch, nor is it gwiyomi/ kawaii (cute) with funny details, shapes or made using special tools or packed in a pretty bento box. But it is the kind of food that I love and like having in my lunchbox.

The onigiri was shaped by hand (whilst I was -not so- silently cursing because of the hot rice), I added lots of veggies (and colours) and the kimchi is home made. The only extra thing I did was adding a little silicone mould for the kimchi and that is only because it would otherwise stain the container.

I filled the onigiri with spicy salmon: left over cooked salmon with wasabi. I also have to tell you that the home made kimchi is actually not home made by me….but by the local sushi shop 🙂

Huh? Sushi is Japanese isn’t it? Yes, but my sushi shop is quite small and owned by a Korean family. I am such a regular customer that they greet me by name, sometimes offer me miso soup whilst waiting (no pre-packed sushi here, only made to order) and I often end up chatting quite some time about Korean food and K drama…

I was there yesterday evening to treat myself to some sashimi and one of the guys had brought in home made Kimchi for himself, and very kindly gave me some to take home!

mat-kimchi

It is Mak Kimchi: ie chopped up / lazy  / easy kimchi and if you want to make it, Maangchi has a good recipe here.

This was a delicious lunch 😛 even if it lookes a bit plain…

As most of my readers know, I pack my lunches early in the morning, before going to work, so I don’t have much time to go crazy & creative. And although I also like making the cute lunches that you have (and will) see on my blog, it’s often a question of finding the time & inspiration for it.

I guess it’s all a matter of balance 🙂 … as are most things in life!

*****

P.s. Have you read my Jerusalem artichoke challenge? In my previous post I asked readers to inspire me to cook with Jerusalem artichokes for my lunch box…you can read more here…. To be continued…

P.s.s. If anyone living in or nearby London and is interested in K-cuisine: the Korean Culture Centre is currently organising some lectures on K-cuisine. Unfortunately I missed the first ones, but I will be going next week (featuring Bibimbap) and next month (Bulgogi). More info can be found on the website of KCC.

 

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 😛
  • 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.

 

Dosirakbento 1 year blogging!

Can’t believe it’s 1 year ago that I started this blog!

My first post featured some onigiri bunnies, so of course I wanted to recreate them again for this anniversary. Because it’s also Valentine, I added some carrot hearts to show that these bunnies are in LOVE…

image

When I started blogging, I didn’t imagine that I would still be blogging one year later. I actually started my blog a bit on a whim, without any clear thoughts or goals. I just thought it would be fun to have photos of the lunches that I was making for myself, partly because the evidence got all eaten 😛 …so a photo diary would keep track of my creations, and partly because I thought blogging about it would challenge myself to come up with some more creative lunches.

I had always been interested in Japanese and Korean food, and after I had seen some bento blogs, I thought… hmmm, I might be able do that :-). Creating bento and dosirak, or at least, my interpretations of them, would also give my blog a sort of theme, namely playing with food in a box.

Well, 1 year later,  with over 160 posts (according to my stats this is post 165, ie an average of 3 per week), almost 18.000!!! views and with more than 825 followers (including email followers), I think I have shown how much fun playing with food in a box can be!

Naturally, there have been times that I struggled to come up with a creative lunch and creative post. As some readers might remember, I did have a bit of a breakthrough last August, when I had a rethink about my blog motivation and decided to stick to the reasons why I started blogging, a diary, my love for Korean/Japanese food and playing with food in a box. That said, not all my posts have been strictly bento/dosirak/lunch/Japanese or Korean related, occasionally other recipes made their appearance, or other subjects caught my attention, and it’s likely that going forward this will happen again. I also still feel I could improve my food photography skills, but am not bothered enough about it to make big changes to what I’m doing now.

My main thought now is, that after 1 year, I still love blogging! What I couldn’t have imagined a year ago, is that I would not only enjoy being creative with my own lunches, but that I would actually feel proud showing them to all the lovely readers that have taken the time to view, read, like, comment, pass on and follow my blog. I think that without all the interaction with other bloggers, the connections made and lovely feedback received, my blog might not have been here today.

So, a big big thank you to all you out there & happy blogging!

Dosirakbento

Oink! Oink! Onigiri Piggies

Onigiri piggies

Do you like them?

I made these before (see my Animal Farm post), but this time I made some step by step photo’s of the process.

Ingredients & equipment needed:

  • sushi rice
  • pink food colouring & sushi vinegar or pink sushi colouring (sushi plum vinegar powder)
  • egg sheet
  • nori
  • thin noodle or spaghetti
  • optional: filling, for example salmon, tuna or pickled plum

Step by step method:

  • First I mixed some freshly cooked sushi rice with pink sushi colouring. The pink colouring is sushi plum vinegar powder (I bought mine at Bento & Co), and luckily Hilary from Hilary’s Global Cafe was able to translate the instructions for me as they were in Japanese!
  • (If you can’t find pink sushi colouring, you can also use some food colouring mixed with sushi vinegar)
  • I mixed 160 gr cooked rice with 7 gr powder (1 teaspoon). It is important that you mix it whilst the rice is still warm as otherwise you will get uneven coloured rice.
  • Once mixed, I scooped half of the rice on some plastic wrap, which rested in a small bowl. Before gathering the plastic wrap and forming a ball shaped onigiri, I added some smoked salmon as filling. You can of course use any filling you like, or even leave it out completely.
  • I wrapped the clingfilm tightly around the rice, making sure that the filling wasn’t showing and put it aside whilst I prepared the face decoration.
  • Repeat with remaining rice.
  • The snout and ears are cut out from thin egg sheet. I have included instructions on how to make an egg sheet on tips & tricks page. I used small food cutters, but you can also use straws or just a sharp knife.
  • The eyes and mouth are cut out of nori.
  • Unwrap the rice balls and place them in some cupcake moulds.
  • Finally, add the face details.You can use a thin noodle strand to attach the ears to the onigiri. I really like it how you can change the character of each pig by changing the way the ears are attached 🙂
  • That’s it! Two cute piggies to add to your bento box!