Wow, three bentos in a row within three days ;)! I think I have made my husband very happy. The bento today was quite simple to make, except the three little bears, because I had to shape/cut out everything by hand...But I think in the end it's worth it, even though I can't wait for my bento accessories to arrive - imagine how much time I would save slaving away in the kitchen...!

The bears are just normal onigiri (plain white rice) decorated with nori eyes, salami nose and ham cheeks. I also steamed three Prawn and Chives Dumplings and made Korean Hot and Spicy Squid (Ohjinguh bokkeum) for the bento.

I adapted the recipe for the Ohjinguh bokkeum from Maangchi's site. The squid turned out delicious...!

Korean Hot and Spicy Squid - serves 2 - 4 people
  • 1 kilogram squid, cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 stalks green onions, cut into strips
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 - 2 carrots, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Korean hot pepper paste
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • In a wok, or large cooking skillet, heat oil on high.
  • Add minced garlic and fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
  • Toss in carrots and onions. Saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add squid, soy sauce, hot pepper flakes, hot pepper paste and sugar. Saute for a few minutes until the squid is cooked.
  • Lastly, add green onions. Toss well to combine. Let cook for 1 minute.
  • Sprinkles with toasted sesame seeds.

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I made another bento today...:). I guess, it's really good that I bought a bento box, because it really has motivated me to make some bento. But I don't think that I would have the time to make bento every day, because it's quite time consuming, especially because I absolutely still have no bento accessories. I used a cookie cutter to make the cucumber flowers and a metal decorating tip to make the holes for the piggies' snouts. The eyes I had to cut out myself because I don't have any nori punchers... I really need to do some bento-accessories shopping to make my life easier...;).

The box at the back is filled with 'Crunchy pork balls' with Japanese-style dipping sauce, tamagoyaki with green onions, cucumber flowers, cherry tomatoes and orange slices. The front box is filled with 3 piggy-onigiri, lettuce, orange slices, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, banana, tamagoyaki, kiwi and sliced carrots.

Crunchy Pork Balls

Ingredients (adaped from Maangchi's Yangnyeom Tongdak)
  • 1 kilogram pork fillet, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup potato starch powder (I used tapioca flour)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup glutinous flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • Oil for frying the pork
  • Chopped green onions for garnish
Japanese Style Dipping Sauce
I was wondering what kind of sauce would go together well with the crunchy pork balls, and I thought about Tempura dipping sauce. I added some chopped green onions, minced ginger and toasted sesame seed to add some extra crunch and aroma.
  • 200 ml dashi stock (I used dashi instant powder to make this)
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
You can also use Tonkatsu sauce or mayonnaise. They would go perfectly well together with the crunchy pork balls...!

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I knew I had to make Yangnyeom Tongdak after I saw the recipe in Maangchi's website. I was a bit skeptical in the beginning when I saw that she used potato flour and sweet glutinous flour to coat the chicken, because I thought it would make the chicken somehow chewy instead of crunchy. But seeing how Maangchi's fried chicken turned out in her video and as so far all the recipes I have tried from her site are never disappointing, I felt very encouraged to try it - And it was absolutely the right decision. The fried chicken together with the red sauce was totally delicious! One of the best fried chickens I know. I was positively surprised by how crunchy the chicken was. I even called my mum and asked her to try it too, and she loves it...!

I didn't use chicken drumsticks nor chicken wings, because my husband doesn't like eating chicken with bones, that's why I used chicken thigh fillet cut into small cubes. I changed the recipe for the sauce quite here and there because I lacked some ingredients, such as tomato ketchup and rice syrup, but the sauce still tasted absolutely delicious...!!


Korean Fried Chicken
  • 1 kilogram chicken thigh fillet, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup potato starch powder (I used tapioca flour)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup glutinous flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • Oil for frying the chicken
  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
The Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Korean hot pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or more if you don't find it sweet enough)
  • 1 tablespoon apple vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Tonkatsu sauce
  • 50 ml boiling water

Fried Chicken
  • Season the chicken chunks with salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands.
  • Add all dry ingredients: tapioca flour, glutinous flour, all-purpose flour and baking soda, plus the egg.
  • Mix everything well. When you notice that it's too dry, add some drops of water, just to make sure that the chicken chunks are well coated.
  • Fry the chicken over high heat for 10 minutes.
The Sauce
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add the minced garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds under medium heat.
  • Add hot pepper sauce, honey, Tonkatsu sauce, apple vinegar and boiling water. Cook for 1 minute.
How to serve
  • Toss in the freshly fried chicken chunks to the sauce. Coat well.
  • Sprinkle the chicken with toasted sesame seeds.
  • Serve with rice and vegetables.
I just bought a bento box some time ago and I was dying to use it, that's why I arranged the Yangnyeom Tongdak in my new bento box together with some vegetables, orange slices and two onigiri :). My first bento...! I will certainly make more bentos in the future, and probably even some cute ones too. So stay tuned :D.

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What is Oishinbo? It's actually the title of a cooking themed manga by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki. I got to know this manga series last year, after looking for some new interesting manga to read. I have always been interested in manga since I was a child, even though I have to say the quality of manga nowadays is quite disappointing. I used to look forward to reading new mangas after school. Those masterpieces such as Orpheus no Mado (The Window of Orpheus) from Riyoko Ikeda or Yokohama from Waki Yamato. That manga flair from the 70s, 80s and 90s is something that I completely miss and cannot find from most of the modern manga...

Even though I mostly read manga written by female mangaka, I very much enjoy reading cooking-themed manga which are often written by male mangaka, such as Chuka Ichiban (Cooking Master Boy) by Etsushi Ogawa which always made me drool as I read ;), and recently Oishinbo. There are 7 Oishinbo manga which are translated into English. They are quite entertaining to read, even though it's rather cheesy in a way. But something cheesy can be fun sometimes ;). I prefer Chuka Ichiban actually, even though the characters and style are slightly more eccentric and the storyline even cheesier ;), but I just couldn't resist seeing all those beautiful Chinese dumplings being paraded in the manga...;D)!

Well, let's get back to our topic: Oshinbo-Style Miso Ramen. After I read Oishinbo: Ramen and Gyoza, I was inspired to recreate one dish from this manga, which is the miso ramen. I simplified some of the ingredients though. For example, instead of making dashi stock myself, I used instant dashi. I didn't use fresh ramen noodles either, because I didn't have any, so I used the instant noodles from Indomie ;). However, for a dumpling lover like me, a meal is never really complete without some dumplings, so I added two boiled dumplings as well to my ramen:).

Ingredients - serves 4
  • 450 g fresh ramen noodles (I used Indomie noodles!)
  • 1 l water
  • 15 g dashi powder
  • 4 tbs soy sauce
  • 3 tbs miso paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbs sake
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 large Shiitake mushrooms
  • 200 g ground pork
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 boiled dumplings (optional)
  • Put the sesame oil in a wok and turn the heat to high.
  • Add the minced garlic and fry it for 30 seconds.
  • Add chopped shallot and ground pork and cook for 3 -4 minutes
  • Add the scallions and Shiitake mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 more minute.
  • Toss in miso paste, soy sauce and sake and cook until the liquid in the pan is almost gone, but the pork is still moist.
  • Turn off the heat and set aside. Keep warm.
  • In the meantime, make dashi stock: simply cook the water + the dashi powder for around 2 minutes. Keep warm
  • Then cook the ramen following the package instructions. Drain.
  • Place the ramen noodles in a bowl. Pour the dashi stock. Top the noodles with the miso-flavoured pork, boiled dumplings and garnish with chopped scallions.

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I got to know this soup a few years ago when I visited my mother-in-law and she made us some Graupensuppe or Barley Soup, in English. I was immediately captivated by its colourful appearance and delicious taste. It was hearty yet light at the same time. I was intrigued by this soup because I had never eaten barley in savoury dishes, actually, I had even almost never eaten barley in my life and if I did, only as Asian sweet dessert. So I really really wanted to make it myself and asked my MIL to reveal the secret of her beautiful barley soup :). I was surprised to find out that it's quite simple to make. The only hideous work you've got to do is cutting most ingredients into small cubes...!

Ingredients - serves 4
  • 200 g barley, soaked in water overnight
  • 2 large carrot, cut into small cubes
  • 3-4 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 10 - 15 black peppercorns
  • 500 g lean beef/lamb shank , cut into small cubes
  • 1 onion (I used shallot), chopped
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 1/2 celery root, quartered
  • Maggi/Knorr beef powder to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 3 l water
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Chopped parsley for garnish
  • Heat olive oil in a soup pot.
  • Sauté the chopped onion, beef cubes and celery root for 1 minute until everything is slightly brown.
  • Add water, peppercorns and barley. Simmer for 30 minutes,.
  • Now add the carrot and potato cubes, beef powder and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
  • Before you turn off the heat, add the leek slices and stir that they're slightly cooked.

Serve the barley soup with chopped parsley!

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After posting low-carb recipes three times in a row, I'd now like to go back to the real heart and soul of 'Cooking Gallery' - dumplings and noodles ;) - this doesn't mean that I have neglected my mission to eat less carb. If you have followed my blog for some time, you would have noticed that I LOVE dim sum, rice and noodles. These are the things I wouldn't be able to live without...! So, from time to time I still do want to enjoy high-carb meal like this...:-).

The magic potion for this dish is still this man below ;). I am simply in love with his beautiful chili condiments. This time I used his 'Fried pork with chili in oil'. This dish is super easy to make and super yummy...!

Ingredients - serves 2
  • 400 g Udon noodles
  • 250 g ground pork
  • 100 chopped mushrooms
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 3 tbs 'Fried pork with chili in oil'
  • 2 tbs oyster sauce
  • Pepper to taste
  • Frozen wontons and meatballs
  • Chopped green onions and fried onions for garnish
  • Heat 1 tbs oil in a wok.
  • Toss in the ground pork and mushrooms and stir fry until slightly brown.
  • Add fish sauce, 'fried pork with chili in oil', oyster sauce and pepper.
  • Simmer the meat sauce, stirring occasionally until cooked through.
  • Place cooked udon noodles in a bowl. Top with the meat sauce, cooked wontons and meatballs. Garnish with green onions and fried onions.
If you want to make wontons yourself, you can look at my wontons recipe here.

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Finding low carb sweets and desserts is very hard in Germany, which could be deadly for me who's got a real weakness for chocolate, gummi bears and ice cream ;). A few days ago, I created some low-carb chocolate cookies, using gluten flour and ground almond. The cookies didn't turn out bad at all, they're soft and rather flaky but still delicious! Scroll down to find the recipe!

Ingredients (Makes 14)
  • 100 g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 100 g gluten flour
  • 100 g ground almond
  • 4 tbs sweetener (of your choice - you can add or reduce the amount as you like)
  • 4 - 5 tbs cocoa (without sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Mix all ingredients well. Shape into little balls. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails
And puppy-dogs' tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of.

For people who celebrate Chinese New Year: Gong Xi Fa Cai 2011 ! May you all have a prosperous and joyful Bunny year ahead :)!

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