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Totoro Vegetarian Zhajiangmian Bento

totoro-zhajiangmian

The fork / food pick is only a prop. No one in their right mind would eat noodles with it. ūüėõ

You may remember from last week’s bento¬†that I bought a new brand of vegetarian mince (Neal’s Yard). I decided to make a spicy Chinese noodle dish called¬†Zhajiangmian¬†or jajamen in Japanese. Zhajiangmian is the Chinese equivalent of the spaghetti bolognese: wheat noodles topped with spicy pork mince sauce, spring onions and other toppings. I substituted pork with soya mince and mushrooms and used Shanghai noodles (white wheat noodles).

This week’s bento features Totoro, the titular character of animated film My Neighbour Totoro. I used the mince to form the body of Totoro and details from egg white and nori. Other components include julienned carrot and spring onion (scallion), egg yolk stars, and a radish eight-point star.

Unfortunately my mince turned out a little dry; I decided not to post the recipe. :-/

Hope everyone is having a great start to the week. ūüôā

Love,

Winnie xx

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Koi Fish Bento with Mapo Tofu and Gyoza

Koi fish bento with gyoza and mapo tofu

No fish was harmed in the making of this bento

Hi guys! Did you all have a good weekend?

This week’s bento was sort of an experimental bento. I bought a different brand of vegetarian mince (I normally eat Quorn, but decided to give Neal’s Yard soy protein a try) and decided to cook it two ways:¬†mushroom and veggie mince yaki-gyoza (grilled dumplings), and vegetarian¬†mapo doufu or mapo tofu (Szechuan style tofu in a spicy bean sauce). I added to my bento two koi (Japanese carp) rice balls decorated with nori and carrot peel, radish stars, and omelette strips to create a lattice effect over the tofu.

Mapo doufu is like chilli or bolognese; everyone’s got their own recipe. It is usually cooked with pork, but as I don’t eat meat, I needed to add some depth to the dish, hence the miso paste.¬†Unlike pork, vegetarian mince does not add any flavour to the dish, only texture.¬†Here’s my recipe:

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Princess of Manchuria Bento + Tofu Manchurian Recipe

manchuria

When I was little, my siblings and I used to have dinner at grandma’s. Dinner time would not be complete without back-to-back Chinese period dramas on TV.¬†I remember being in awe of beautiful princesses in their delicate brocade Manchu-style robes and elaborate tasselled headdresses.¬†This bento pays homage to all those TV shows back then that kept us entertained for hours as we chowed down grandma’s delicious food.

To keep my theme consistent, I made a side of¬†Tofu Manchurian, a vegetarian take on Chicken Manchurian (deep fried chicken chunks coated in a hot sweet-and-sour sauce)…¬†which funnily enough, doesn’t originate from Manchuria or China. It is an Indo-Chinese dish, i.e. Chinese food cooked Indian style. I decided to pan-fry my tofu (instead of deep frying) instead for health reasons.¬†Scroll further down for Tofu Manchurian recipe.

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Miffy Bento + Tofu Fritters Recipe

miffy1

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Miffy is a rabbit character from a series of popular chidren’s picture books, and is the star of last night’s kyaraben / character bento. Accompanying Miffy are four¬†pan-fried tofu fritters.¬†I believe most tofu-eating nations have their own version and name for these delicious morsels…¬†dubu jeon¬†in Korean,¬†doufu bing in Mandarin, etc. They are filling, yummy, and rich in protein. You can pretty much add anything you like, thus great for clearing out your fridge. Last night I made heaps of mushroom tofu fritters¬†with the help of my grandmother, who pretty much put together this recipe for me over the phone. Other veg that work well are peppers, carrots, peas, sweetcorn, wood ear / kikurage mushrooms, etc. – you get the idea. ūüôā

Here is my recipe for mushroom tofu fritters:

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Tofu Tuesday Recipe: Chinese Tofu Soup

doufugeng

I love tofu. A lot. So much so I’d be happy eat it every day of the week. But I don’t, because it is very expensive in London (probably because I know how much tofu costs in Asia that I am reluctant to spend ¬£2 on a block of tofu). ūüė¶

Doufu geng is a delicious and nutritious Chinese delicacy in the form of a thick soup or stew with tofu. Many fancy Chinese restaurants zhoosh it up with expensive non-veggie ingredients like prawns and Jinhua ham, but the humble doufu geng is extremely versatile, pantry friendly, and easily made vegetarian. It is also surprisingly easy to make (well, my recipe anyway).

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Chive-tastic

Last weekend, I bought a bunch of Chinese chives (aka garlic chives, nira chives) to make my Golden Money Bags. I was left with a lot of chives. If you, like me, happen to have a bunch of chives in your fridge, here are some pescetarian and vegetarian ideas on what to do with these chives:

Tuna tian (pescetarian):

tunatian

A tian of canned tuna chunks lightly marinated in soy sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil, layered with diced water chestnuts, diced chives, sautéed mushrooms, wakame, and goji served with an apple cider vinegar and sesame oil dressing.

Chive omelette (vegetarian):

chive-omelette

Chive omelette with ramen in an earthy miso mushroom broth

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Eating Abundantly: Golden Money Bags Recipe

moneybags

When my sister and brother first introduced me to Law of Attraction, I was intrigued by the concept of abundance, whereby you attract manifest abundance (wealth, success, etc.) through the power of thoughts and visualisation. So I thought, perhaps eating ‘abundance’ might help with the manifestation process –¬†hence these Golden Money Bags. Don’t they look like little pouches of gold? ūüôā

These yummy morsels are Thai in origin (known as toong tong) and are traditionally made by wrapping wonton wrappers around a little ball of pork and shrimp into a little pouch and then deep fried. For health reasons, I have decided to bake mine instead of deep frying. I also made them pescetarian friendly.

They make great starters / appetizers and party food. Here is the recipe:

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