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Totoro Vegetarian Zhajiangmian Bento

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

You may remember from last week’s bentoĀ that I bought a new brand of vegetarian mince (Neal’s Yard). I decided to make a spicy Chinese noodle dish calledĀ ZhajiangmianĀ 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 minceĀ turned out a little dry; I decidedĀ not to postĀ the recipe. :-/

Hope everyone is having a great start to the week. šŸ™‚

Love,

Winnie xx

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Spirited Away Bento + Napa Cabbage Roll Recipe

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NoribenĀ is a portmanteau of the wordsĀ noriĀ andĀ bento. It is a very simple style of bento, consisting of rice (flavoured or otherwise) topped with a layer of nori. To go with myĀ noriben, I made sides of Chinese leaves / napa cabbage rolls (top right) and Korean style tofu fritters (bottom right). Below is my recipe for napa cabbage rolls. Tofu fritters recipeĀ here.

No Face is a character from Studio Ghibli’s filmĀ Spirited Away. He is a lone spirit in the form of a masked figure who befriends Sen/Chihiro in the film. I cut nori and peeled radish to create the facial details, adhered using a little mayo. The mask was cut out from egg white.

Here is the recipe for the napa cabbage rolls. They are elegant and flavourful. I made mine vegan:

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Mini Totoro Bento + Veggie Chirashizushi Recipe

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Yesterday, I made a bento of vegetarianĀ chirashizushi (scattered sushi). Chirashizushi is perhaps the least known type of sushi in the UK, as many associate sushi with dainty bite-sized morsels of rice and fish. Chirashizushi is easy to make, requires minimal cooking, and can be easily adapted to suit various dietary needs. ItĀ is assembled from vinegared rice and a variety of colourful toppings (commonly fish and fish roe). This is my take (vegetarian, of course) on the chirashizushi.

The centrepiece of my bentoĀ is my homage to the humble sushi rice. Often the chirashizushi is chock-full of toppings that you can hardly see the most important ingredient, the rice… Ā without which, there would be no sushi! I chose Mini (Chibi) Totoro, aĀ Studio Ghibli character, as it is cute, white, and fluffy… just like perfectly cooked rice. Chibi Totoro is Big Totoro’s littlest ‘cousin’ in the filmĀ My Neighbour Totoro.Ā 

Here’s the recipe:

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Wednesday Lunch Kyaraben / Bento: ‘Spirited Away’ Fusilli Bento

Wednesday Lunch Bento: Spirited Away Pasta Bento

Now this title is slightly misleading as I only had a tiny portion of leftovers for lunch. It was a rushed entry for Bento&Co’s 2013 International Bento Contest that I made on Monday. I sent this photo off at the very last minute and wasn’t sure if I made the deadline. I didn’t make top 20 but it was great fun to make and even greater fun to eat. šŸ™‚

The pasta is fusilli in a homemade shiitake-infused pomodoro sauce. I wanted to try and add an Asian flavour to the pasta. I am sort of fifty-fifty about the outcome. It tasted ok, but slightly weird, hence no recipe.

This bento is inspired by Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away. I was about to chop up the shiitake caps when I thought they looked like the Soot Balls / Coal Sprites from Spirited Away. The bento also depicts Boh in mouse form and Yubaba’s Bird, on a bed of lettuce leaves, topped with parsley, basil, carrot stars, and red cabbage stars. Yubaba’s Bird is also a shiitake mushroom cap. The head of Boh (mouse) is cut out from cooked lasagne sheet. The characters are further defined using lasagne sheets for eyeballs, carrot, and nori. The stars are meant to be food for the Soot Balls. šŸ™‚

Sides are cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, pan-fried tofu, and stacked puff pastry hearts. All vegan except the pastry.

My bento was voted Bento of the Week. Thank you all! xx

Bento of the Week Winner