Monday, December 7, 2009

Bento fever

Monday and Thursday are the only days in this semester that I can't get free lunch. I'm currently working at a cafetaria, so they give me free lunch at the end of work. Saves me a lot of money :)

I'm fine with Thursdays since I have no other classes after lunch time, so I have my own sweet time to make or buy lunch. But not for Mondays.

So I decided to bring lunch from home, just like how I used to when I was in elementary school. The difference was that my mum used to prepare it for me, and this time I prepared my own lunch.

Pika bento (or so I call it). It's the cutest bento I've ever made, so I felt sad when I stabbed the pikachu with my spoon and put it inside my mouth. It's actually pretty simple to make:

1/2 C white rice
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp chicken stock

You can add coconut milk instead of water when cooking the rice, but that's optional. What I wanted to achieve here was just the yellow color, and not making the traditional Indonesian yellow rice. You'll need more ingredients to make that :)

As for the sushi rolls, the basics of making sushi rolls still applies - the only difference is that you use yellow rice instead of white rice:

1/4 C cooked rice
1tsp salt
3 T vinegar
1 seaweed sheet
1 frankfurter sausage (or any sausage of your choice), cut into long halves
1T mayonnaise

Mix the rice with salt and vinegar well until they appear more sticky. Spread rice evenly on seaweed sheet, covering about half of the sheet, place the sausage in the middle on the rice, spread the mayo on the sausage, and roll it. Some people use a sushi rolling board, but I don't. After you roll it halfway (all the rice covered by the seaweed, make sure to clench the roll with your hands to make the sushi roll firm. A great tip from my friend is to stick a few rice at the other end of the sheet so that after you roll it, the seaweed doesn't get undone. Basically, the rice will act as a glue :)

Again, it's sushi rolls. It seems that sushi rolls are kinda perfect for lunch boxes - they are bite-sized and contain carb, meat and vegetables (depending on the choice of filling).

I tried using frozen steamed vegetables because they contain a mixed variety of vegetables. They have good texture, but one thing I regret about these kinds of vegetables was when they were seasoned in the packaging. I'm not a big fan of vegetables with caramel sauce, so I don't like the overall flavor. On the other hand, I find unseasoned frozen vegetables pretty good!

Unagi. Oh yes, I LOVE unagi! It's been my favorite ever since I started eating sushi (just because it's the only cooked fish they have - I wasn't used to eating raw fish back then). I didn't make this from scratch - I bought the pre-grilled ones from Asian market here. I just have to grill it for a little bit in my toaster oven.

And if you notice, I also have usaringo (rabbit-shaped apples)! It's always been my dream to make one. I have been watching many J-doramas and anime, and I always saw usaringo in their bento boxes. So.. I finally managed to make one! It's pretty simple:

Slice apples into wedges, leaving the bottom a little flat so the rabbits can stand. Make a 'V' shaped slice on the skin, make sure that you don't cut it too deep. Start peeling the skin from the edge until it reaches the 'V' cut. Pull the skin apart. And at this time, the "ears" actually won't stand. So you have to soak it in salt water (~1 tsp per 2 cups of water). Just wait for about 3-5 minutes and the ears will magically stand up!

This one was pretty simple, but I'd say it's pretty balanced. A little too much rice for me, though. LOL. I shaped the rice using a rice mold (the Japanese have tons of collections of rice mold!) Most of the foods in this bento were leftovers from dinner. Leftover salsa, leftover chicken... It didn't take long preparing :)


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