I rarely attempt anything remotely charaben. Bentoists who are adept at the art of cute bento can probably understand why! My attempts are amateurish for sure. However, yesterday I couldn’t resist making one to present at a talk I was giving to my branch group of Thermomix consultants.
The past two days were frantic as I stacked the fridge with boxes of bento-friendly foods, like Japanese mayonnaise, potato salad, roast sweet potato, red onion and cauliflower, pasta, couscous, marinated chicken, meatballs, refried beans, taco sauce, rice, and mexi beef. I also made a couple of test-drives of my presentation recipe, Chicken and Black Mushroom Stuffed Onigiri (recipe below!)
I had grand plans of having four bentos on display, as well as doing mini-onigiris and potato salad for everyone to try. As usual I was grandly delusional in what I could pull off, but I did manage to put together two decorative bentos! The above was one. And I was rushing up to the last minute making mini-oniri and potato salad!
I have to say I was surprised and thrilled to find the audience getting very excited about bento boxes. And there were possibly even a few converts to bentoism! 🙂
400g sushi rice, 900g water
3 coins of ginger
1 spring onion
5 dried black mushrooms, soaked in boiling water 20 minutes
250g finely diced boneless chicken thighs
splash of oil (grapeseed or ricebran is good)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 TBSP soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
Place a large bowl on top of Thermomix and set scales. Weigh 400g of rice. Fill bowl with water and swish around until water is cloudy. Pour rice into steamer basket to drain, repeat process 3 times until rice water is mostly clear. Drain again. Insert basket into TM, measure in 900g water. Cook on Varoma temperature, 16 minutes, speed 4. When rice is cooked, remove basket and let sit, covered for fifteen minutes to let rice plump and absorb moisture. Then fluff rice into Thermoserver and keep warm while making filling.
Clean and dry bowl and return to base. Add ginger and spring onion for 3 seconds, speed 7. Scrape down bowl. Drain mushrooms and squeeze out moisture. Add to bowl for 3 seconds, speed 7. Repeat if necessary until mushrooms are chopped (make sure not to puree them!) Scrape down bowl and add oil, a good splash or two to cover bottom of bowl. Cook on Varoma temperature, 2 minutes, speed 1. Add chicken, cook at Varoma temperature, 5 minutes, reverse speed 2, Measuring cup off. Add salt, soy sauce and sugar, scrape down if necessary, cook for 1 or two more minutes, Varoma temperature, reverse speed 2. The mixture should be dry, cook longer if necessary to cook off liquid.
Forming Onigiri: Line a teacup with a large piece of cling film, rub the inside of the film with damp fingers to moisten it and fit it to the cup. Dust with a pinch of salt. Fill cup two thirds full with rice, pack down with a spoon and hollow out the centre slightly. Fill hole with a teaspoon of filling. Push rice over top of hole. Gather edges of cling film and pull together, twisting at the top to tightly enclose the bundle of rice. Squeeze and compact the rice and form it into a round flattened shape, or a triangle. If desired, unwrap package and fold a rectangular piece of toasted sushi nori over the base of the roll. The nori makes a convenient little handle to eat it with…and it’s super tasty too!
Onigiri can be stored at room temperature for several hours, or refrigerated if necessary. But they will harden slightly if chilled. They may be reheated gently in the microwave, but I think onigiri are best at room temperature.
If you would like to receive updates of my blog posts please go ahead and subscribe in the right hand column. More recipes to come!