Total calories (approx): 570 (how calories are calculated)
Time needed: 15-20 minutes in the morning
Type: Japanese, decorative
I haven’t posted a complete bento in quite a while. I like to show something new when I write about a complete bento, and for the past few weeks I haven’t done much beyond making simple onigiri or assembling sandwiches. But since I turned some delicious locally-raised pork into miso marinated pork the other day, I made a spring-like bento to go with it. It was delicious, and looks nice too I think! I also decided to decorate it a bit, which gives me a chance to show a couple of ways of dealing with “charaben leftovers” if you will.
If you are into decorating your bentos, you invariably end up with little awkward leftover bits. In this bento, I’ll show you how to use up these bits in a way that no one, not even a picky child, would notice.
First up: How to use up bits of cut up nori seaweed, after you’ve punched out a cute face for onigiri and so on. One of my favorite ways is to use the bits in a tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette). You can use the traditional method, or the quicker 1-egg tamagoyaki method. (I actually used the 1-egg method for a 2-egg tamagoyaki, for 2 bentos.) All you do is to tear up the nori pieces, and lay them on the wet uncooked surface of the egg. Proceed to roll and fold as for a plain tamagoyaki.
This makes those pretty yellow-white-black spiral tamagoyaki you may see on Japanese bento sites.
Another way of using up bits of nori is in a noriben.
Another problem that faces the bento decorating enthusiast is what to do with the awkwardly shaped bits of carrots and other vegetables that remain after you’ve cut cute shapes out. You can chop up the bits and use them in another dish. But an easier way is to just cook them along with the pretty cut-outs, and stuff them in your bento box anyway.
For this bento, I cut clover shapes out with small aspic cutters from carrot slices and zucchini skins. I boiled the cut-offs along with the cut-out flowers in salted water until crisp-tender. I used the clover shapes as decoration of course, and put the cut-offs at the bottom of the bento box. This particular bento box is on the deep side (about 2 inches / 5cm) in any case.
I then packed the pork and egg slices on top. There are some of the cut-offs in the rice compartment under the rice too. Not only does this help to to make the bento box more appetizing by evening out the surface and making it look like it’s packed full, it prevents me from packing too much of higher-calorie ingredients like meat, eggs and rice. It also makes me feel smugly frugal, since I’m not wasting a scrap of food.
I hope this has given you some ideas for what to do with those leftover bits!
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