An Evening Bento Series - Day 6

After day 5's failure, I decided to make one more evening bento and see how it went.  That evening we had sandwiches, so I had very little in terms of bento making leftovers.  I ended up digging around the fridge to pull this one together.

Layer 1: The first course is comprised of carrots, tomatoes, and bell pepper with laughing cow cheese.  This is the standard starting point for my bentos.  Dessert is fresh fruit: peaches and strawberries with candied walnuts and little sandwiches of cream cheese and strawberry jam.  The sandwiches are cut in the shape of tulips but it didn't photograph very well.

Layer 2: Roast chicken (pulled from the freezer), broccoli, and a roasted tomato.  I made onigiri, which are Japanese rice balls.  Typically, they add vinegar and salt to them.  I tried it out and really like the added flavor of the vinegar.  DH loved them.

How to Make Onigiri Without a Mold

Most bento stores sell little plastic molds for shaping onigiri.  There are cute shapes: triangles, balls, flat disks, squares.  It's all very cute but I'm cheap and wanted to know how to shape rice balls without a mold.  After reading a few websites, it turns out that the secret to easy onigiri is plastic wrap.

So, here's how it works.  Take warm rice (not too hot - you still need to handle it) and mix it with whatever flavors you are going to use. 

Today's has white wine vinegar, a little salt, and some minced onion that I added while the rice was cooking.  This rice is leftover from dinner a few nights ago, so I had to heat it up in the microwave.  I have even heard of people freezing quantities of rice and then heating it up to make onigiri.  It seems to work fine as long as you have rice that will stick together.  The rice I used here is a short grain, Asian rice from the grocery store.  If you're ever looking for a way to use the white rice you get with your Chinese food, this is a great option.

Spoon a small amount of rice into the center of a square/rectangle of plastic wrap.  If you are going to add a stuffing, add it now.  Then, pull up the sides of the plastic wrap so that you have a little bowl shape around the rice.  Twist the wrap to bring the ends of the bowl shape into a ball and create enough tension to shape the rice.  Unwrap and place carefully into your bento.  You're done!

If you want to make a few of these in advance (while you have warm rice already), you might leave them wrapped in plastic and refrigerate.  This will keep them reasonably moist for a few days and speed up your bento work.

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