jalapeno kimbap bento

23 09 2010

last night’s meet-up at seoul garden was super fun!  we ordered the mixed BBQ platter and a bunch of jigaes, and then hit koryodong cafe for lattes and shakes.

there weren’t a ton of leftovers from dinner (in fact, i gobbled up my entire portion, leaving nothing for a doggie bag).  but fear not, bento pals — this intrepid blogger took the opportunity to stop at H-mart for some korean groceries, as well as at e-mo for some jalapeno kimbap to go!

i didn’t get home until almost midnight and was too tired to bento, so i threw a quick one together before work this morning, adding just a few broccolini florets, a juicy tomato, and two steamed sweet potato leaves (i lightly incised some “veins” with a toothpick) for some extra color and fall-inspired decoration.

tomorrow i have a lunch date, so i’ll see you all next week — happy bento-ing and have a great weekend!

penguin meatballs bento

26 05 2010

yikes, someone reading only the titles of this week’s posts would think i have a real thing for eating strange animals!

tomorrow’s lunch has vegetarian meatballs made to look like penguins.  i cut the cheese with a toothpick, and then popped them in the microwave for 9 seconds to make it melt down around the round meatball surface.  then i added steamed sweet potato beaks and nori eyes with sesame seed details.

my penguin couple sits atop white rice, which again is applied in a thin layer over more protein (in this case, about 1.5 additional meatballs that were already somewhat mushed and crumbled in the package).  to complete the meal, i have a fish jun (korean pancake), half a hard-boiled quail egg with a nori star, some pea pods, two tomatoes, some kiwi slices, and three blackberries.  my final decorative accent is two sweet potato fish (cut with one of the cool hand-crafted metal cutters) and one fish sausage fish (i cut the details with half of a drinking straw, a trick i learned from one of pikko’s boy’s day bentos).

i’m packing a few of my wooden utensils, which i accented with removable washi tape.

kitty sausage bento

24 05 2010

no, not sausage made from a kitty, a piece of sausage made into a kitty…

i guess cats are just what people see when they stare at their food waiting for the characters inside to show themselves?  this happened to pikko recently, with cute results!  in my case, i knew i wanted to use a sausage disc, and the darkish brown color made me think of using light-colored features, which led me to a pink fish sausage nose, white cheese eyes with white sesame eyelashes, a yellow cheese mouth, and pale somen whiskers.

this kitty left her paw print on a quail egg, which is packed with steamed broccoli, my last asparagus tip, takuwan slices, blackberries, a juicy tomato, some peapods, and a sweet potato blossom.  the rice is decorated with some edamame halves and black sesame seeds.  alongside this lunch i have a sakuranbo (cherry jelly), one of yesterday’s purchases at minamoto kitchoan — can’t wait to try it!

UPDATE: i found the place where i got the idea for a paw-print on a quail egg… should have guessed it was the always-genius lucky sundae!

flowered omurice bento and contest winner!

15 03 2010

a simple one tonight, since last night’s was so involved.  i find that omurice is a great way to use up scraps from bento projects, like the leftovers from cutting flowers.  the filling of this omurice has, well, rice (duh), fried up with some leftover sweet potato scraps, a chopped vegetarian hot dog, some chopped leftover steamed broccoli, one of my last baby sweet peppers, some scallion and gochujang.  i decorated with some simple cheese, sweet potato and purple carrot flowers, with pea pod “leaves.”

the fruit and veggie section is also simple — a few grape tomatoes, a piece of broccoli and some more pea pods, some clementine slices and blackberries with a food pick.  easy, breezy lunch in less than 20 minutes (compared to last night’s 3 hours!).

[as seen on iyoupapa]

— ♥ —

i so enjoyed reading all the contest participants’ GRE vocabulary sentences — you guys came up with really smart and creative uses for those tough words!  i wish i could award extra prizes based on my favorite sentences, but it’s a recession y’all!  so for the winner, i turned to the random.org site, which generated a number between 1 and 67 (there were 67 entries):

the winner is… tami!  some of you may know her as ABQ bento mama on flickr — she does really fun work.  tami, holler at me with your address so i can get this prize package out to you!

flower fried rice (redux!) bento

21 02 2010

i know i did a flower detail on fried rice fairly recently, but for some reason this food and this decorative motif just seem to go together for me.  i think flowers also go particularly well with the round, three-sectioned box, as sheri has proven time and time again.

tomorrow’s lunch consists of leftovers from yesterday morning’s fried rice breakfast (yum, who can say no to fried rice for breakfast?!).  for fresh veggies/fruit, i’ve got grape tomatoes (with leaf food picks), orange and yellow baby carrot sticks, pea pods, broccoli, and blueberries.  and here’s my fried rice recipe, though it’s not really a recipe, since the substitution possibilities are endless (really, just throw together whatever random leftover veggies you have in your fridge, and supplement with ones from your freezer if necessary):

yummy fried rice breakfast goodness (serves two hungry, hungover adults):

  • 1.5 cups leftover rice (should be COLD from the fridge)
  • 1/2 small white onion or about 1/3 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped broccoli or other leftover steamed green vegetables (i added snow peas)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen green vegetables (i used edamame, but peas or carrots are also good options)
  • 4 sliced hot dogs (you could also use soy dogs or fish sausages)
  • 3 tbsp. cooking oil (i use canola)
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 heaping tbsp. gochujang (you could also use sriracha), 1 heaping tbsp. garlic paste or finely minced garlic, and 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 eggs
  1. get a very large saute pan (or even better, a wok) hot and add your cooking oil.  sautee the onion and fresh vegetable (here, broccoli) until cooked through but not browned.  add the frozen vegetable (here, edamame) and continue stirring over high heat until defrosted.
  2. add your meat (here, hot dog slices) and cook everything until slightly browned on edges.
  3. add your rice.  it will be chunky and stuck together from cooling in the fridge, so use the blade of your spatula to break it up and mix it with the vegetables and meat already in the pan.
  4. add your garlic and gochujang (or sriracha).  again, use your spatula to evenly distribute the seasoning throughout the rice, making sure that there no clumps of un-seasoned rice (e.g. big clumps which, if you broke them open, would be pure white inside) remain.
  5. in a small bowl or ramekin, beat two cracked eggs lightly.  you’re really just trying to break the yolks, not make the base of an omelette or anything.  add the egg mixture to the pan and again, using your spatula, evenly distribute, being careful not to let a puddle of eggs burn on the bottom of the mixture.
  6. turn the flame off.  add your soy and sesame (you turn the flame off because you don’t want to burn these, and they don’t really need to cook anyway).  use the spatula to mix everything together one final time.

could that possibly be any easier?  there is no special “technique” here, just adding things in stages and continuing to mix thoroughly.  and like i said, you could substitute almost any of these ingredients, as long as we’re still talking about some kind of rice, mixed with some kind of vegetable and protein.  i love ordering fried rice from thai restaurants because it’s always so buttery and herbal, but i also love making it at home because it’s a great use for odds and ends from my fridge that are about to go bad.

anpanman bento

18 01 2010

tomorrow’s lunch features anpanman, the beloved japanese cartoon character.  i made my anpanman out of a vegetarian “chik’n” patty (i like boca brand’s spicy flavor), with a cherry nose, strawberry slices for cheeks, and nori for the eyes, eyebrows and mouth.

the patty is on top of some rice that i sprinkled with shiso furikake, and filling up the rest of the box is some roasted baby bok choi (made in the toaster again, with just salt, pepper, olive oil, minced garlic and gochu garu), enoki mushrooms, sweet potato hearts (made from two teardrop shapes each), cherries and pea pods.

— ♥ —

i know i usually stick to bento on this blog, but i wanted to do a quick restaurant review since i had the day off from work today (for MLK day) and took the opportunity to eat some dim sum in chinatown with friends.   this time we tried jing fong, which gets mixed reviews food-wise but has the classic ambiance we were looking for:  a huge, bustling banquet hall with tons of carts (as well as a hot buffet).

here are some shots of the hot buffet line:


and here are a few of the goodies we ordered from carts:

from the top:  various dumplings, other savories (stewed tofu, fried tofu with shrimp, and eggplant with pork) and sweet sesame pastries.

overall, the consensus of internet reviewers was pretty spot-on, in that the experience was lively and fun, and the food was ok.

as you can see from the menu card at the left, we stuffed ourselves (with no less than 21 dishes), until we felt like we needed to be rolled away in wheelbarrows!!! it was a fairly good bargain, at only about $16 per person, tax and tip included.  that said, i preferred the food at ping’s (where the eggplant is so divine i featured it in a previous bento). if choosing based on food alone, i wouldn’t necessarily go back to jing fong (after all, there are still many more dim sum places for me to try!).

— ♥ —

finally, i wanted to pass along an award i received from two lovely ladies, lia of my bentolicious, and tata of bonito’s cooking wonderland.  thank you so much lia and tata, i’m honored!

there are no rules to this award, so if i’ve passed it along, please don’t feel obligated to keep passing or to post on it or anything — but i thought it would be a nice chance to give a shout-out to my favorite blogging bentoists.  so, debra (hapa bento), sheri (happy little bento), pikko (adventures in bento making), and susan (hawai`i’s bento box cookbook), plus lia and tata, here’s to you!  i ♥ all of your blogs!

new birdie bento

14 01 2010

all japanese flavors in tonight’s bento… clockwise from left, going in a spiral:  two pan-fried gyoza (studded with fish cake flowers), carrot sticks, some steamed broccoli, enoki mushrooms, two pieces of tempura fried sweet potato, cherry tomatoes with two steamed sweet potato stars, miso-sesame-honey eggplant made with a variation of hapa bento’s excellent recipe, a sesame mochi, and some kamaboko slices.

on top of the steamed broccoli is a beautiful takuwan bird, cut with a new handmade cutter, which was a present from my pal sherimiya — thanks so much sheri, i love it!  i think i’ll try cutting something thinner next time, so that the intricate shape of the cutter is reflected more crisply (this was my first time using it, so any flaw in the bird was with my technique, NOT the cutter!!).

i’m looking forward to the the end of the workday tomorrow… i filed a massive brief this week, which had me up working late several nights, and i’m exhausted.  hope you all have a wonderful and restful weekend!