January is still considered the beginning of the year 2011, right? RIGHT??
I finally got to make the first bento of the year 2011! 2011 is the year of the rabbit. I could’ve just made a rabbit bento but I’m so bad at making original bento… so I decided to ask help from my bento savior, Totoro!
Bento #81: Year of Totoro Bunny
Created and eaten: 1/22/2011
If you’re following me on twitter, you might have seen the huge batch of meatballs I made last night. I made a lot of meatballs with beef and renkon (lotus root) . I like putting renkon in meatballs because it adds a nice crunchy texture. We ate some of them that night, but since I made a lot of them, I decided to use them in my bento as Makkurokurosuke.
I sauteed sliced renkon, seasoned it with soy sauce and put it on the bottom of the bento box. Then I put meatballs at the bottom of the bento box and I put some loose corn to fill the gap and to add some color. Then I boiled water and cooked snowpeas and broccoli. I cut the snowpeas to use them as dividers between the meatballs and Totoro so sauce from the meatballs wouldn’t get on the rice.
I wanted to dress up Totoro in a bunny suit, so I first mixed rice with ground black sesame seeds with a bit of salt, made a small ball and put it on a small mound of plain rice. Then I spread plain rice onto a piece of plastic wrap, flattened it, and cut out the rice for the face and put it over the rice mound so that the opening of the top layer of the rice would go over the rice mixed with black sesame seed. I placed Totoro in a bunny suit in the bento box, and I made bunny ears with plain rice and put them on.
I sauteed and seasoned asparagus with lemon juice and put it to the sides of Totoro. I put boiled broccoli around Totoro’s head and put a quail egg chibi-Totoro (see “how to make mini-Totoro”) between bunny Totoro’s ears.
In Japan, plum blossoms are often associated with the new year, so I used a cutter to cut plum blossom shapes out of carrot and sprinkled them all over the bento.
After the main parts were in the bento, I focused on the details. I cut out kamaboko (fish cake) for the eyes for Makkurokurosuke and chibi-Totoro, and placed black sesame seeds on the eyes. Then I cut ham for the ears and stomach on Totoro’s bunny suit. For Totoro’s teeth I cut kamaboko, and seaweed for Totoro’s eyes, nose, teeth and whiskers.
Unfortunately, the kamaboko contained too much moisture… and the seaweed started to get wrinkly a LOT faster than I expected. T_T I should’ve probably used cheese instead of kamaboko. Oh well… Other than that, I think I could’ve used more red and yellow.
So the first bento of the year wasn’t perfect at all… but I’m not going to let it get to me. It just made me want to challenge myself to create even more, better and yummier bento! Oh yes, I will!