Total calories (approx): 480 (how calories are calculated)
Time needed: Way too long! (About 2 hours)
Type: Japanese, kyaraben/charaban, special occasion, Homage to The Kitty
Hallowe’en is creeping up on us. And this is my homage to that ghoulish day. I’ve never actually made a Hello Kitty bento, and for some reason the idea of doing The Kitty as a zombie came to me as a dream, or was it a nightmare?
Believe it or not, this bento is actually pretty healthy. The forest behind Zombie Kitty is some sautéed vegetables, some suitably black and spooky stewed hijiki seaweed and fried tofu (without the carrot), and two Chinese broccoli stalks that were steamed and then stir fried a bit with oyster sauce. I think they look a little like sinister twisted trees - though you can’t see them well under the big Kitty.
The small pumpkins are steamed carrot slices with nori seaweed faces, and the two larger pumpkins are sweet potato slices that were steamed and then briefly fried with a sprinkle of soy sauce and brown sugar. The faces are made with usuyaki tamago (thin omelette), which I embeded into the potato to make it look as if it were glowing from inside, hopefully.
Finally, Zombie Kitty herself. Here’s a closeup:
Her head is a plain white rice onigiri, simply salted (I didn’t put in any filling). The vacant eyes are pine nuts, and the bruises or dark shadows around them are finely ground gomashio (sesame salt) made with black sesame seeds. The nose is a golden raisin - I tried using usuyaki tamago and other things but nothing looked quite right, so I left it with the slightly wrinkled raisin-nose. (Well she is a zombie, so her nose is probably decomposing a bit.) The red blood sprays are paprika, and the whiskers are cut and twisted strips of nori. I made the head-onigiri by hand, since I wanted it bigger than the Hello Kitty onigiri mold I have, but I did cut out the ribbon from a roasted red pepper using the cutter included in that kit. More about the Hello Kitty bento kit here.
Kitty’s body is the end of the red roast pepper - it was a long Hungarian pepper or paprika pepper. It’s stuffed with a beef and tofu mini burger that I had in the freezer, defrosted and squeezed into the pepper end. The arms and one leg (she lost her other one) are more rice.
Incidentally, I put down a layer of torn up nori under Zombie Kitty, to prevent any juices from the food underneath from seeping up and making the rice disintegrate.
Seen from the side, she looks quite dead, but hopefully not too creepy. (It was eaten up eagerly with no complaints.)
It took a lot of time, but it was fun! You could even argue that making special occasion bento like this is healthier than making a sugary cake. In any case, never fear, Just Bento is not turning into a kyaraben / charaben blog! Regular, sensible and quick bento will return shortly.
For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or
by email (more about subscriptions).
And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.