Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic panda bento

panda bento
Since I'm on a roll with this corny cutesy Olympic coloured food, I decided to go all out, no holds barred. I'd been planning on making this for YH's lunch last Friday, to time it with the Olympics Opening Ceremony, but he had a farewell lunch to attend, so I postponed it to today. He says his lunches are all free for bentos this week, so prepare for a full week of bento fun! I hope Mr Panda survives the trip down to his office...

Update: YH just rang - he got a huge surprise when he opened up his bento and saw Mr Panda staring back at him. He said he couldn't bear to eat it, and that it would be hard for me to top this one. Sounds like a challenge! Am really pleased because he was chuckling away in office - hope it cheers up his day!

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This bento is my first attempt at a charaben bento (cute bento). It's a very simple one - nothing compared to the amazing charaban bentos out there, but I'm happy with how it turned out. Plus, at 7am, this is about all I can manage right now...

Olympic Panda Chirashizushi (scattered sushi) Bento

panda bento2

Mr Panda is made out of one round, slightly flattened ball of sushi rice, and the ears of two smaller rice balls. I cut his ears, eyes and nose out of nori seaweed. It was actually easier to cut nori shapes than I thought - I just folded one nori sheet into quarters, used a pair of scissors to cut out a shape and voila, I had four eyes vaguely the same shape. Just like primary school again.

The toppings for the chirashizushi are nestled around the panda. I tried to follow the order and colour of the Olympic rings to follow my Olympic theme.

Blue: Red cabbage & blue-dyed ham

I tried to dye the ham blue using red cabbage juice, but it didn't work too well and I resorted to my blue food dye. Which made the ham dry up. Needless to say, I only added a bit of shredded blue ham for effect. The red cabbage is more purple than blue, and it doesn't quite fit with the sushi, but I decided it could be a sort of side salad.

Black: Teriyaki chicken

This is more brown than black, but I wasn't prepared to douse the chicken with too much soy sauce.

Red: Crab sticks

I think foodies probably don't think much of crab sticks, but I love them. Of course real crab is better, but a california handroll with a crab stick inside is still tasty. In an attempt to find a better quality crab stick, I bought some luxury looking ones from Korea.

Yellow: Shredded egg

Green: Cucumber sticks & avocado

Accompanying the bento (not pictured) is a small container of cut up nori squares to eat with the sushi (sort of like a de-constructed handroll) and a squeeze container of Kewpie mayonnaise.

I packed the bento with two small ice packs sitting inside the container to keep everything cool and food-safe. I did most of the preparation the night before, so in the morning I just had to make up the sushi rice, mold and decorate the panda, and add the toppings. I also sliced up the avocado and dipped the slices in a little lemon juice to stop them turning brown.

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