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:
Two little love birds sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
Hello everyone! Hope you had a nice couple of weeks? It is absolutely freezing here; friends in the Northern hemisphere, don’t forget to wrap up warm! 🙂
A couple of you asked where I have been the past couple of weeks… It was the wedding of my sister and her fiancé last week. I was of course there to help out, spend time with the family, and enjoy the festivities. She was, I kid you not, the most stunning bride I have ever seen.
I made the above aptly themed bento to commemorate this special occasion, and I shall name the Love Birds Sasha and Steve in honour of the newlyweds.
Here’s how I made it:
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.
Simple but colourful vegan bento for lunch. Soba (buckwheat noodles) under toppings of diced tomatoes, sliced tofu puffs, courgette / zucchini slices, and soy simmered shiitake. The emoticons are made from sliced radish with nori details. 🙂
Colourful lunch box makes me happy. ^_^
Noriben is a portmanteau of the words nori and bento. It is a very simple style of bento, consisting of rice (flavoured or otherwise) topped with a layer of nori. To go with my 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 recipe here.
No Face is a character from Studio Ghibli’s film 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:
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. 🙂
Here is my recipe for mushroom tofu fritters:
I love Mediterranean food especially for its lovely colours, fresh herbs, and fragrant spices. For lunch, I made a selection of mains and sides – stuffed aubergine, tabbouleh (Lebanese bulgur wheat salad), spiced tofu ‘meatballs’, a skewer of halloumi, and grilled courgette / zucchini half-moons… served with a generous dollop of yoghurt and a cup of fresh mint tea (both not pictured). My meal was meant to be served in a bento box, but I decided against it since I would have to cut the aubergine into bite size and that would not be possible in a small box.