monkey soboro bento

1 04 2010

i received an unusual request via flickr-mail yesterday: a friendly user (and apparent fan of my photostream) asked if i might be willing to make a monkey bento, in honor of her favorite animal.

well, i have a couple of monkey sauce cases that have been lying around since my west coast bento shopping spree back in november, and i’m always up for a challenge, so i decided to use the monkey on the sauce case as my inspiration, and figured i could achieve the brown with a soboro bento.

my soboro is made of vegetarian faux ground beef. first i made an onigiri in approximately the same shape as the monkey’s inner face, molding pink rice free-form with saran wrap. then i layered some sliced orange bell pepper and scallions in the box, added the onigiri, and spooned in my “ground beef” (which i had sauteed with some cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper). i added radish eyes, nori eyelashes, a red pepper mouth, and a dyed-pasta bow, and voila! i had my monkey (no banana, though). this was my first time trying soboro for a bento, and i wish it had come out a teensy bit neater, but it was fun and i’ll definitely keep trying to perfect this technique!

even though the monkey looks like she’s made of just two ingredients, don’t forget about the veggies layered under there — once i mix it all up (with the hot sauce i stored in the actual monkey sauce case), it will be a tasty and healthy entree. i figured i would want something sweet too, though, so i made a quick side car of kiwi slices, pear flowers, and kumquats.

here’s a close up of the sauce case (available from napa japan):

see the resemblance? ok, i used artistic license to omit the ears and add the eyelashes. i hope my new flickr pal enjoys this one, and i hope you all have a great friday and weekend!





bunny-eggs bento

31 03 2010

so easter’s not really my thing, but i couldn’t resist this very easter-ish combo of eggs (quail eggs, to be precise) and bunny ears (from this new pick set i first saw on akinoichigo-san’s blog; i don’t think they’re supposed to be bunny ears, but use your imagination!).  plus, these bunnies give me another chance to submit to hapa bento’s BOMB for this month!

these are super simple to make: just boil your quail eggs and peel (i find that using a sharp object to puncture the thick inner “skin” — in a place on the egg that won’t be seen, of course — really helps get the peeling started), and insert picks. i cut the noses with a straw from fish sausage, and punched the mouths with a face punch, and added sesame seeds for eyes.

the rest of this box has rice mixed with shiso powder and topped with peas (an idea from lucky sundae’s awesome blog), lettuce, a star-cut radish, kimchi mandoo and one edamame shumai, takuwan slices, clementine segments in a food cup, a few grape tomatoes, a few pea pods to fill in empty spaces, and some broccoli topped with fish sausage stars.

a close up of these bunnies, before they hippety-hop right into my mouth:

oh, and in case you’re wondering, these cute paper-covered kids’ chopsticks were another j-list score.  the picks came from ebay, and the flat-rate shipping from japan was actually quick compared to some other ebay sellers located there.





lovebirds bento

10 02 2010

i know, i know, sheri did a gorgeous lovebirds bento on monday, and i swear that 1) i sketched this similar idea in my notebook over the weekend, and 2) i’m by no means trying to top hers (there’s no way i could!)… that said, maybe we can get a theme going (like when everybody did penguins)?  i just couldn’t pass up using this beautiful, intricate cutter for a holiday themed bento.

my love birds are made from egg sheet (i used mothering corner’s super-helpful instructions, and learned that adding cornstarch produces a pretty durable and smooth sheet; mine has 3 drops of red food coloring) on top of cheese, and the heart they’re sitting on is more egg sheet and cheese, topped by a daikon heart.

in the top portion of the box we have yellow carrots, pea pods, a grape tomato, broccoli, purple potato slices, pomegranate seeds in 2 silicone food cups (i doubled for stiffness and a more recognizable heart shape), a strawberry, and garlic-pepper salmon (leftover from tonight’s dinner).

this is my last valentine bento, as tomorrow i’ll be posting my “year of the tiger” contribution.  i hope you all have a wonderful valentine’s day, either with your sweethearts, your kids, or friends who love you!





osechi bento

30 12 2009

apologies for my extended absence — i had a terrible cold for the last week or so, and just wasn’t up to bentoing.  luckily the boyfriend nursed me back to health with multiple nights of soup and grilled cheese (my preferred “sick in bed” comfort food meal), and now i’m back in action…

and just in the nick of time!  tomorrow is the last working day before the new year, so i’m bringing a new year’s bento for lunch.  traditional japanese new year’s food is known as osechi-ryōri, and includes sweet black beans (kuromame), a version of tamagoyaki made with fish paste (i used dashi instead), carrots, snow peas, and kamaboko (layered in the top tier with takuwan). i have added tomatoes, cherries, broccoli and blackberries for color and flavor variety, as well as a radish cut to look like a chrysanthemum, or in the spirit of the new year, a bursting firework.  the “2010” (resting on top of three veggie mool mandoo, a korean new year’s tradition) is cut from kamaboko with an xacto knife.

happy new year to all my bento friends!

[as seen on socyberty and lincoln cooking examiner]





taj mahal bento

9 11 2009

bento 36

leftovers from dinner with my friend seany last night at taj mahal – yum!

veggie section:  sweet potato tempura, star-cut radish, purple broccoli, yellow wax beans, twist-cut cucumber, red grape tomatoes, snow peas, and a purple potato flower (pea center).

[as seen on epicute and yoshiko yutaka sakai delicious blog]





jack-o-lantern onigiri bento

29 10 2009

bento 27

onigiri stuffed with salmon and wasabi mayo, topped with an orange-food-coloring-dyed egg sheet and nori cut-outs.  surrounded by yellow wax beans and yellow tomato, enoki mushrooms, radish “mushroom,” veggie croquettes with carrot-takuwan-sesame flower accents, purple broccoli and purple cauliflower, edamame in a food cup with takuwan and red grape tomato on a spider food pick, and snow peas in the bottom right.

clickety click chopsticks and a strawberry-choco lolly for good measure.





three rolls bento

19 10 2009

bento 22three different kinds of rolls for lunch.  main box, from left to right:  slices of kim mari (glass noodles wrapped in nori and deep fried) with takuwan flowers, row of tomatoes, slices of egg-and-frank rolls, carrot and pickled radish sticks, slices of veggie kimbap. apple-shaped sidecar (top), clockwise from top left:  mango fan and apple fan, purple cauliflower, sliced grapes, raspberries.