Chibi Dragon Bento


This week’s Bento Challenge is all fired-up! Literally, with theme fire. I have to admit, I was quite stuck with it. I was exploring ideas like Prometheus bringing fire to man, but honestly, would I want to eat something with a half naked giant on it? I don’t think so! I was going to pass it up, until this particular bento started falling into place. As I added the final touch, a breath of fire, I realized that hey, this could work for the fire challenge! So anyway, presenting, my Chibi (little) Dragon Bento.

Chibi Dragon Bento

Bento #159 • 6 September 2007

Still in line with the, “I’m totally broke” theme, I raided the freezer and vegetable crisper for easy to cook food items. I was rewarded with two pieces of Chicken Pandan(screwpine) and a vacuum bag of enoki dake (golden mushrooms). While the chicken pandan looks boring with its bland, non-descript features, it’s such a moist, flavorful chicken dish. It remained really soft and juicy despite being fried and sitting in a bento box for a couple of hours. Even cooking it was such a treat on a sleepy Thursday morning. The fragrant pandan produced a sweet, refreshing scent as it fried, invigorating my sleepy spirits.

Originally, I bought the enoki dake to make enoki dake bacon maki, but seeing we had no bacon at home, I jogged my memory for quick enoki dake preparations. Remembering that Lunch in a Box once did a broiled enoki dake entry, I decided to try it. As directed, I took a bunch of enoki dake, placed it in a foil cup, added a pat of mushroom, a dribble of soy sauce, and salt and pepper. I didn’t have any fresh herbs on hand so as much as I wanted to, I had to skip the herbs part. I heated them in the toaster oven for a few minutes, then slipped the whole thing, cup and all, into my bento.

As I was surveying the rice tier, I was saddened by how plain it looked. I sliced some Naruto Kamaboko from yesterday then arranged it on the rice. It occurred to me to place a face on the first circle so it would look like a worm. I cut nori eyes then I thought, “Hey, they look like big nostrils!” So I then cut new eyes from nori and cheese, added a spiky, nori fins and fiery pickled ginger breath. I admit, it was supposed to be a tongue at first, then I figured, what the heck, it could look like tongues of fire, so I added more. With that, a Chibi Dragon was born. Unplanned, sheer serendipity strikes yet again!

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21 Responses to Chibi Dragon Bento

  1. Biggie says:

    So how did the enoki cups taste for you? Okay? I was surprised at how much the mushrooms shrunk down in broiling — I think I added more halfway through in one version.

    Adorable dragon, BTW — I can only admire food art like that. Amazing!

    • kaoko says:

      Biggie! I have to confess, I think I put too much butter! Next time, I’ll stick to your recipe strictly, hahaha! Btw, how much do you wash the enoki to take the slimy feel away? Mine was still relatively puffy in the cup since I followed your instruction to pile ‘em high.

      And thanks for the compliment. I like doing occasional food art, but I can only take it to a certain extent. While I admire people who can do food art with rice, cheese and peppers, I need to have something more substantial on the side because as a Filipino, I was raised on the concept of rice + a main dish (ulam). And no matter how pretty, cheese and peppers just don’t do it for me. ^_^;; I NEED MY MEAT! I really should do a manifesto like your speed bento one. Only mine will go more like, “YUMMY before pretty!” :P

      • Biggie says:

        I actually don’t wash the enoki. I’m not sure how they’re packaged there, but here they’re totally encased in little plastic bags. I just cut through the base and the plastic bag, and use the tops — there’s never any dirt on them. No water, no slimy texture.

        I’m SO with you on “YUMMY before pretty” if I can help it. I really admire the food art, but you’d have to get super-creative to make it a balanced, delicious meal and artistic at the same time.

      • kaoko says:

        Oh! I’ll try that then. They’re vacuum-packed in little plastic bags and are imported from Japan / China wherever. It doesn’t look dirty either.

  2. aoitenshi says:

    I can’t eat cheese and pepper! Sometimes I see food art that’s really pretty but they’re not something I can eat, so way to go on the yummy but pretty food art. :)

    I love the dragon! It’s definitely “chibi” hehe.

  3. lalalady7 says:

    very creative, i hear u on the totally broke theme ME TOO!!! but once the next pay day comes around im buying alot of ingredients for bento-ing again

  4. Tony Lou says:

    you can heat foil cups in the microwave? wow! i thought bawal ang anything metallic sa microwave.

    and again, ang ganda nung presentation. ang cute ng dragon.

  5. kaoko says:

    @aoitenshi
    That’s cause you like your ulam too, hehe. I like cheese and peppers—but on my pizza and not on my rice.:P

    @lalalady7
    So hard being broke, isn’t it? My fault for going overboard with the doll shopping. I had to choose expensive hobbies *hits head to desk*

    @Tony Lou
    Oopsie! Thanks for catching me there Tony Lou! I meant toaster oven—you’re right about not using metal in microwaves. Hope nobody tried it yet, but at the very least, I remember the cookbook that came with our microwave recommended using aluminum foil to shield parts of the chicken when it was being roasted so I guess it’s pretty safe. Still, you’re right, I’d rather not try it.

  6. JB says:

    How cute is that?! Been away from the net for a while, been too busy at work/school. Bento challenge? Where are the other entries then? :-) Hey kaoko this is a bit off-topic and I bet you already know about this but yesterday I was at Japan Home Center sa Galleria and about the third of the items were on sale (P55 na lang instead of P88) Coolness! :-)

  7. kremchie says:

    does hatchin have a purchase of naruto?

    • kaoko says:

      Yep! Less than 100 a stick, I think. Still, naruto kamaboko’s pretty commonplace when you’re at a Japanese grocery so I’m sure it’ll be easy to find some :D

  8. the_spouse says:

    so how do you cook/prep the narutomaki? i grabbed one.. and now i’m staring at the japanese characters of the cover… no comprende. me not understand japon.

    buut.. for the maki, i see them in some ramen that i order though! do you boil it? or how do you prep it?

    cute nga pala ng dragon. :-)

    • kaoko says:

      I don’t understand Japanese too! :P I hear the narutomaki comes cooked already, pre-steamed and all (I know a friend who snacks on it just after defrosting O.O) but I usually steam or boil it. If you’re adding it to ramen, maybe you can just throw a couple of slices before the noodles are fully cooked?

      • the_spouse says:

        eat after defrosting… hmm.

        okidoki! steam or boil it is!

        Naruto Maki.. i mean, how can I resist buying it after seeing the name, diba? kage bunshin no juutsuuu

        thanks for the tip kaoko! :)

      • kaoko says:

        Ingat lang, baka ma-biktima ng sexy no jutsu :P

        Incidentally, did you know that naruto, both the character and the food comes from the fact that they have swirls? That’s what naruto means—and remember how Naruto has a swirly seal sa tummy?

      • the_spouse says:

        Ingat lang, baka ma-biktima ng sexy no jutsu — i wish! haha!

        anyway, as for naruto.. i didn’t know that.. kala ko they named it naruto maki to capitalize on the series’ popularity :P

  9. Steven says:

    i really need help here, i need to find a store in southern california or an online shop from which i can bye naruto kamaboko. i know there are many restaurants out here that serve dishes with it in them i just want to know where they bye it at. it would be a great help for i am a culinary student!

    • kaoko says:

      I’m sorry but I can’t really help much. I’m based in South-east Asia and don’t know much about the area you’re in. I know Amazon sells kamaboko but I’m not sure if it’s feasible to buy kamaboko online, seeing it needs to be refrigerated. My apologies, Steven, but I can’t really help much.

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