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Japanese bento 2 (lion, water lilly)
As written in my Hubs about bento, it is very important to have new ideas and come up with innovative design which is nice to look at and tasty as well. Never try to make a beautiful bento which would be disgusting as this really is not the point of bento. The correct way to do it is to have good quality and cute appearance. What I use to do is to make a drawing where I try to imagine what I would like to see when I open my bento. The next step would be to try to find a way how to re-create my drawing with food what can be very challenging. There are borders which are very hard to cross. At some point you will come to realize that a feeling and interest for arts is just as important as a high skill level in cooking. Always think of ways how to connect your parts, if it is easier to put the picture together from pieces or if it would be more beneficial to make a nice carving (which takes some time to learn but the effect is great).
- 1 chicken leg, whole
- 1 flower of cauliflower
- 1 carrot
- 1 spring onion
- 1/2 lettuce
- 3 pickled cucumber, small
- 1 yellow melon
- 1 tbs jam, if possible homemade
- 1 pack spring roll wraps
- 1 vegetable oil
- 1 nori sheet
- 1 tbs mayonnaise
- 1 pack rice noodles
- Spring rolls - part 1. As the spring rolls take the most time to prepare and get ready it is good to start with them. First lets cook the chicken leg. Wash the chicken leg, leave the skin on it and put a lot of salt on it from both sides. Take a pan and let it get hot. Put a little vegetable oil inside (really only a little bit as the skin has enough fat in it). When the oil gets hot put the whole chicken leg with shin into it with the skin part down first to get a nice crispy skin. Be careful not to burn it. After a while check it and turn to cook the other side a bit as well. When the skin has a nice color take it out of the pan and put into the oven until the meat is cooked properly. When it is done take it out and let is cool as you will need to have a cold chicken to work with. When it is finally cold take the meat from the bones and cut it with the skin into stripes.
- Spring rolls - part 2. Take the carrot and cut into very thin stripes, do the same with the lettuce, spring onion and pickled cucumber. Boil some water and put the rice noodle into it for approximately 5 minutes (don't overcook them). After this let them cool in cold water a couple of minutes and drain them. Take a rice paper wrap and moist it with cold water so it gets softer and you can roll without breaking it. Put one or two stripes of chicken on the wrap, add the lettuce, carrot, spring onion and the pickled cucumber stripes. Add a little of the cooked rice noodles. Now you start to roll. Roll it tight so there is no space between the wrap and the fillings. When you have rolled them all. Grill them in a hot pan so they get nice and crispy. When cooled a bit cut them into half.
- Cauliflower lion. Pick a mid-sized cauliflower flower. Cut of a circle form a larger carrot. Take a sharp knife and play sculptor for a while and cut the circle into a head with ears shape. Put both together into boiling water and cook for a while, be careful not to overcook it so they don't fall apart. Let them cool. Cut the bottom of the flower to get a stable stand. Cut of a bit of the top of the flower so the lion head fits into it. put a bit of mayonnaise into the hole so the head sticks well. add nori eyes. Take mayonnaise put three thin spring onion stripes into it for the whiskers and finally the nori nose and mouth.
- Carrot water Lilly with melon pads. Cut of an approximately 2 cm piece of a larger carrot. Carve it into a flower shape (this may be difficult in the beginning but you can do it with some exercise, as well there are a lot of videos how to do it). Take the jam (I prefer berries) and gently fill the carved holes of the flower. Top it with some sesame seeds. Take a cookie cuter and cut the pads from a yellow melon. Use carrot stripes to decorate and arrange the pads around the flower.
Dear readers I hope you will enjoy making this bento as it can be family fun and i wish you good luck coming up with your own ideas.