Monday, 28 March 2011

Super Cute Picnic Bento


I was in the mood of making something very festive today and hence the various colourful characters: a yellow chick, an orange bear, a green frog, a pink piggy, a brown seal and a mutated (^-^) cow-piggy. I tried to colour the rice with natural food colourings: turmeric for the yellow chick, chili sauce for the orange bear (you can substitute this with tomato sauce too), soy sauce for the brown seal and spinach for the green frog (or you can use mashed edamame too). Unfortunately I had to use pink food colouring to colour the piggy because I simply had no idea how to get a pink hue with natural ingredients. I know a lot of bento makers use sakura denbu to colour the rice pink, but if you do a further research, you will find out that commercial sakura denbu has got added red food colouring as well. To be very honest, I am not fanatic about not consuming food colourings, it's quite hard to avoid anyway since food colourings are regrettably added in almost all commercial food products, especially in sweets and instant sauces or mixes. Think of smarties, coloured marshmallows, those instant soups from Maggi (and other brands) etc. I think it's okay to consume it as long as we do not exaggerate. I know there are people who are absolutely against adding food colouring to the food or dessert they cook or bake, and bash people who do, but they comfortably eat commercial food products which contain food colouring (and often in large quantity too). Hmmm, how pointless...! Don't you think that sometimes people who try to be politically correct (even in the kitchen) most of the time are often quite foolish?

Oh well, let's move on to a more exciting topic: dumplings :)!! Most of my faithful blog readers should know that I adore dumplings and before my blog recently evolves into a bento blog ;), I mostly posted about dim sum, rice and noodles recipes. So, my bento creations could actually never be complete without adding some of my homemade dumplings in them...! I should probably one day also make a dim sum bento: a bento box simply filled with different types of dumplings, yum...:)!



I made those dumplings above this morning. This time I didn't make the wrappers myself to save time. If you want to make the wrappers yourself, please check my previous dim sum recipes, such as the Kuotie recipe or the Boiled Jiao Zi recipe. The dumplings I made this morning are extremely easy to make with very simple ingredients - totally yummy too...!!

Pork and Green Onions Dumplings
  • 25 - 30 dumpling wrappers
  • 250 gram ground pork
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • White pepper and sugar to taste
Mix all ingredients (except the dumpling wrappers) and then fill around 1 teaspoon of the meat mixture into a dumpling wrapper. Close and pleat the wrapper. Repeat this process to the other wrappers.

I steamed my dumplings but you can also pan fry, deep fry or boil the dumplings. It's entirely your choice!



Bento Box 1: Cute animals onigiri filled with prawn tempura, Japanese rolled omelette/tamagoyaki, 2 slices of kiwi, grapes, strawberries, blueberries and red currant.




Bento Box 2
: baked chicken wings, cucumber slices, Parmesan crispy chicken, steamed pork and green onions dumplings, blanched broccoli and carrots, tamagoyaki, cherry tomato, piggy quail egg and red currant.


These two bento boxes are not only good for a picnic, but also for a movie night. A good alternative for the usual crisps or popcorns :)!

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Fat Chococat Bento




I didn't actually intend to make a fat Chococat. Unfortunately my silly hands made him disproportionately fat. I think next time I should make sure that his body is much smaller than his head and of course I should let him have his slim legs back. This fat Chococat has got gigantic legs, I know...;)!

I made this bento for my (and my husband's) lunch/dinner. We didn't manage to eat everything and the Chococat is still 'alive' and currently he is sleeping in the fridge...;).



Filling: Chococat Onigiri filled with Indonesian fried rice, broccoli, strawberries, grapes, Schwarzwälder (Black Forest) ham wrapped green beans, meat patties, sausage tulips, fish balls, sugar snap peas and mandarin.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Simple Piggy Bento




Today just a simple and quick bento.... I didn't really know what to make, but then I remembered the ham piggies from Kaerenmama - cute and very easy to make.




As you can see, I almost didn't do any cooking, as I used mostly pre-made foods, such as chicken nuggets, piccolini, sausages and cheese hashbrown. The only thing I had to do was blanching the vegetables and washing the fruit.



Until next time...!


Bookmark and Share

Monday, 21 March 2011

One Little Monkey in a Bento Box



Does it look like a monkey? My husband couldn't guess that it's a monkey :(.

This bento was rather quick to make, I suppose it's because I didn't try to make too much food like previously. I know I somehow always made 'picnic bento' in the past ;). I took some pictures of the monkey before it was formed, and I hope this would help people who want to recreate this character at home. You don't need fancy bento accessories at all, here are what I used:

  • Brown rice (or white rice browned with soy sauce)
  • Cheese, I used Gouda
  • Roasted seaweed (nori)
  • Ham
  • Toothpick
  • Decorating tip
  • Drinking straw
  • Plastic wrap
  • Kitchen knife
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Your hands :)




I used a toothpick to outline the face of the monkey, before cutting it out with a kitchen knife. Use the bottom part of the decorating tip to make two small circles from the cheese and nori. These would later be used for the eyes (You don't actually need to make two cheese circles, the nori circles are enough for the eyes, I just wanted the eyes to pop out more). The nose holes are made out of nori. I cut these out manually, the same with the mouth. I used the drinking straw to cut out the mini pink cheeks.




Then I formed the rice using plastic wrap, before topping it up with the 'face accessories'. Don't forget to make two smaller rice balls for the ears - not pictured here, unfortunately... I was in a hurry!

I you look at the finished monkey rice balls one more time, you'll notice that in the end I decided to add more 'face accessories'. I added mini cheese circles to the eyes to brighten them up (I used my drinking straw to cut them out) and two bigger pink cheeks which I cut out using my decorating tip. The inner pink parts of the ears are cut out using the bottom part of the decorating tip again.



Filling: slices of mandarin, hard-boiled egg, cherry tomatoes, blackberries, broccoli, grapes, edamame (boiled soy beans), green beans/ham rolls, German 'Frikadelle'/meat patties, monkey rice balls, potato salad, green tea mochi and two chocolate truffles.



Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Tare Panda Bento



I used to love Tare Panda a lot. It's a character from San-X, a stationary/gift manufacturing company from Japan. Tare Panda is very lazy and loves to eat mochi, just like me ;)!


Left Bento: Tare panda made out of rice, nori and goat cheese. The mini panda is made out of hard-boiled egg, broccoli, strawberries, grapes, raspberries, kiwi, mandarin, lettuce and blanched bok choy.

Right Bento: Fried panko-coated shrimps (Ebi Furai), cherry tomatoes, blueberries, mini bear sausage, green tea mochi, potato salad, Bourbon vanilla truffle, broccoli, a slice of mandarin and strawberry.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Howdy Hamster Bento



Howdy everyone...! Some people think that my Kuririn Hamster Bento looks like Hamtaro. This made me thinking, that I should make a character from the Ham-Hams society ;). I chose to make Howdy, because I think he looks adorable. The brown rice is made out of rice and soy sauce. Eyes, nose and lips from nori. His sumo shop apron is made out of surimi and his paws of a sausage. I wanted to use cheese for his tooth, but was afraid that it would look too light in pictures, that's why I used a corn kernel instead (not a very good idea, I think...! Yellow tooth??).

I spent probably three hours preparing this bento. I never plan what to use or what to make in advance, that's why I always waste my time in the kitchen, thinking what I should do. Anyway, I made Vietnamese summer rolls and Vietnamese Lemon grass Chicken. I bought the chicken nuggets, crab claws, har gow and mochi from an Asian market.


We didn't manage to eat Howdy and the Vietnamese Lemon grass Chicken (in the claypot). It's good because this means I can bring Howdy to work tomorrow (my first bento to be brought to work ;)!) and my husband can have the Lemongrass chicken for tomorrow's lunch.



Bookmark and Share

Monday, 14 March 2011

Onigiri Bento and Awards



I don't know what to name my bento... I call it 'Onigiri Bento' simply because there are 5 onigiris in the bento boxes. Two at the back are filled with prawn tempura and three at the front are normal onigiri without any filling.



Besides the onigiris, I filled in the bento boxes with Japanese rolled omellete or 'Tamagoyaki', Beef Yakiniku, chicken nuggets, Hawaiian piccolini, green beans/ham rolls, two quail eggs, broccoli, strawberries, blueberries, green grapes, cherry tomatoes and oranges.

Beef Yakiniku
  • 500 g beef steak, thinly sliced
  • Flour to coat the beef slices
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 stalks green onions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sake
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Sugar and white pepper to taste
  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Instructions
  • Heat 2 tbs oil in a wok.
  • Add miced garlic and onion. Stir fry until fragrant and slightly brown.
  • Toss in the flour coated beef slices and fry for about 1 minute.
  • Add sake, mirin , soy sauce, pepper and sugar. Mix well.
  • Now, add the bellpeppers and green onions. Stir fry for another 2 minutes or until everything is cooked through.
  • Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
By the way, I would also use the chance today to say thank you to Stephanie Gang, the writer of Edible Art, for bestowing me with the wonderful award below :). It's highly appreciated...! Now I need to pass on this award to 15 lovely bloggers. I always find tasks like this very difficult, because there are actually so many wonderful bloggers out there but I am only allowed to choose 15. But well, since it is the award's rule, so here goes the list...



  1. Alison from Alison's Trials
  2. Belzy from Belzy's Kitchen
  3. Deepa from Hamaree Rasoi
  4. Honest Vanilla
  5. Jose Manuel from Asopaipas
  6. Kristy from My Little Space
  7. Lena from Frozen Wings
  8. Lia from Bentolicious
  9. Little Corner of Mine
  10. Manja from Jakubick
  11. Marie from ParikkObento
  12. Shierly from Kokken 69
  13. Swathi from Zesty South Indian Kitchen
  14. Tou Tou from Light Delight with Tou Tou
  15. Vivienne from Green Cilantro
I have also received another award a few days ago from Veny, a very nice and lovely woman in Indonesia who loves to eat everything 'enak-enak' (which means delicious) :D). To receive this award I need to tell you 7 things you might not know about me. I want to pass on this award to all my blog readers...:)!



  1. I am in my 20s. I have the impression some people think I am much older ...;)!
  2. I currently live in Germany, but I used to live in Sydney and Jakarta as well
  3. I love reading books, especially something related to history : The Renaissance, The Tudors, The French Revolution, etc.
  4. I love Barock and Rococo style, this might have been influenced by the manga I read when I was a little girl - The Rose of Versailles by Riyoko Ikeda.
  5. I hated shopping and fashion when I was younger, but now I do enjoy shopping very much and I love wearing pretty clothes and accessories (even though I cannot always do this every day unfortunately...!)
  6. I am a quite shy person and I am very bad at small talks. But once I have got to know you better, I could be crazy too at times and would show the sides you would never imagine I possess ;).
  7. I am rather paranoid - one reason why my profile picture is a bunny. But believe me, I am as cute as that bunny, hahaha...;)!!
Alright folks, that's it for today....!

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Sushi Bento



I didn't really have any idea what to make for my bento today, that's why I decided to make something simpler than my normal 'kyaraben' bento. I made prawn tempura sushi and smoked salmon/omelette sushi. I know my prawn tempura don't look very pretty this time, my previous attempt looked better. I used instant tempura flour to save time, but I didn't use cold water. Maybe it's one reason why the tempura don't look so 'spiky'.



The smoked salmon/omelette sushi were meant to look like flower sushi, but I don't think it looks so obvious in picture ;). I got the idea from a Japanese cookbook about decorative sushi that I got from my sister some time ago. Anyhow, it was a delicious lunch. We ate it while watching 'Resident Evil: Afterlife' :). I think the first and second films are better. It was nevertheless quite entertaining to watch.

By the way, I think most of you are aware of the Tsunami in Japan. It's indeed a very sad tragedy :(. My thoughts are with you, people of Japan...

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Ebi Nigiri Sushi



I made this a few months ago, but didn't really have the motivation to post it until today, at least it's a change from my bento posts...:).

I prefer making sushi rolls (maki) because I find it easier to make and less time-consuming, but I like having nigiri sushi too from time to time. My favourite topping for nigiri sushi is boiled shrimps.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups sushi rice (short grain)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Boiled shrimps
  • Wasabi
Directions
  • Wash the rice well and drain the water.
  • Cook sushi rice with 2 1/2 cups of water in a rice cooker.
  • After the rice is cooked, add rice vinegar, salt and sugar. Mix well with a rice paddle.
  • Form the rice into ovals (use saran wrap to prevent sticking) after the rice has cooled down.
  • Add a dab of wasabi to each rice ball and top it off with boiled shrimp.
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Kuririn the Hamster Bento




Well, the character doesn't really look like Kuririn I guess, because I didn't make her wear her smashed apple (??) hat. If you don't know who Kuririn is, she is a character from Sanrio (a Japanese company that produces kawaii merchandises). I tried to make some Sanrio characters in the past with cookies, there you could see the characters better because I could handpaint the characters on sugar fondant. Shaping a character with rice is a totally different thing...! I find it much more difficult. And I should have used stronger coloured ham for the mouth because I think it looks so pale it's almost invisible. And by the way, in case you're curious how I shaped the hamster - I used saran wrap, which makes the job much easier and cleaner too. I always thought in the past that bento makers shaped their bento characters with bare hands (and to be very honest, I've always admired those people's works but I never could imagine that I would be able to eat 'kyaraben' bento just because I have never been into people touching my food. But after some time I found out that most bento makers use saran wrap when they make onigiri or other cute characters with rice - I find this actually very relieving...;)!

Anyway, I am quite proud that I could produce such a bento after work. Normally I always feel demotivated to do anything after work...:).

I filled my bento with chicken nuggets, green beans/salami rolls, Hawaiian toast, har gao, pork dumplings, Chinese-style stir-fried chicken, taro mochi, fruit and lots of greens.

The Chinese-style stir fried chicken was a leftover from yesterday. This time I used this condiment below. I bought it at the weekend in my local Asian grocery store, because now I am always on the lookout for new, interesting-looking condiments - especially after I found a beautiful Szechuan condiment some time ago, which I used for making this dish (and I abso-freaking-lutely loved it!). I have to say it doesn't taste bad at all. It's spicy and very aromatic with some chopped Chinese mustards and string beans inside. A must have if you want to create quick, easy yet tasty stir-fried dishes.



Anyway, that's it for now... Good night everyone! I can't wait for the weekend to come...!



Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

"Hamster" Kimbap Bento




No, I didn't fill in the kimbap with hammies...;). They're too cute to eat - I only eat non good-looking animals you see...;b). Well, I had a hard day today and my mood is not the best, that's why my sense of humour is just totally off (even though I know that I am not the most humourous person in the world...!).

I made the kimbap at the weekend. The filling includes rice, crab sticks, avocado, cucumber, mayonnaise, tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette / Korean Gyeranmalyee) and toasted sesame seeds. If you know how to roll sushi maki, making kimbap is extremely easy, because the method is exactly the same.



The hammie in the middle is made out of chicken katsu, decorated with cheese and nori eyes, sausage paws and nose and cheese and ham ears.


Bookmark and Share

Monday, 7 March 2011

Princess Bento



Or, should I say ' Princess Tomato Head' bento ;)? I am not sure why I put a tomato on her head... Actually it's meant to be a kind of head accessory, hopefully it does look like one ;)!


This bento took ages to make...! I had no real plan and only had the aim to make something with a woman, that's why in the end I was a bit confused and didn't really know what else to add to the bento. Finally I resolved to use some frozen meatballs, dumplings and crab claws that I just bought from my local Asian grocery store yesterday to save some time.

This bento was our lunch and will be our dinner too, because we never really manage to eat everything from the bento boxes. In a way this is good, because I only need to cook once a day...:D).

Bookmark and Share


Saturday, 5 March 2011

Little Puppy Bento



Yay!! It's finally weekend...:). I was already looking forward to making another bento! From the comments I have got, I have the impression that some people think that I bring my bento to work, but it's really not the case. During the weekdays I don't normally have the time to make any bento. The Cute Hamburger Bento was an exception, because I was home earlier and it was still quite sunny too - I do lose my motivation to make bento when the weather is very gloomy and dark, because it means that I wouldn't be able to take nice pictures ;).


The little puppy (or should I say Prince Puppy (because the carrots look like his crown??) is made out of chicken katsu. I used tonkatsu sauce to spot his face and ear. His eyes are made out of black olives and goat cheese. The other bento box is filled with prawn fritters, Mr. Cocktail Octopuses, green beans/ham rolls, cherry tomatoes, flower carrots, broccoli, strawberries and some greens.


My husband and I felt totally full after we ate this bento. But it was really fun to eat...!

Have a great weekend, everyone :)!


Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Cute Hamburger Bento


Just a quick post.... I never thought that I would try to make any bento during the weekdays, but I did!! Help, I've got a bento fever, I guess...;)!! After I got back from work today, the first thing I did was actually going into the kitchen and started to prepare the ingredients for the hamburger. Nevertheless I didn't do something big, I used frozen hamburger patties which I just had to pan-fry for a few minutes and the spaghetti bolognese was a leftover from yesterday.



I've just found out since a few days ago that making bento is really fun, but it really does take time and patience to prepare. At least this sudden 'addiction' to bento making is making my blog and husband happy...:)! Hopefully this would not be something short-term. I tend to be rather impulsive sometimes...

P.S. I got the idea to make hamburgers with black olive eyes from the talented blogger, Susan Yuen. Thanks for this simple yet cute idea, Susan :)!

Bookmark and Share