“How can you eat something that looks back at you?” I get that question a lot whenever I pack bento that have eyes. Maybe I’m heartless. Maybe they don’t look like animated objects to me. Or maybe I’m just darned hungry. Truly, it’s never bothered me, even as I squeal, “kawaii desu!” over a bento. So bring on the cute critters and I’ll bring on the appetite.
I wanted something light and quick to prepare that’s why this bento has mostly instant food. The onigiri was made from pre-cooked rice that was frozen, then microwaved without defrosting. I simply dusted my hands (still slightly wet) with salt, then hand molded away. Since I was making just one onigiri, I opted to hand mold so there won’t be any leftover rice.
To go with my plain onigiri, I fried some chicken fingers and boiled some octodogs. I shaped my octodogs with an octopus weiner cutter but they can also be made with a sharp knife by cutting slits on one end of the hotdog. Normally, I prefer frying hotdogs but since I wanted them to retain a nice octodog shape, I opted to boil instead. I think I overboiled though, that’s why their tops kinda puffed out. In the corner, I have some shredded iceberg lettuce which I planned to dress with a bit of blue cheese dressing.
To add a happy, festive touch to the bento, I cut some faces from a sheet of nori. For the onigiri’s happy face, I used a pair of sharp scissors. For the tinier eyes, I used an experimental technique that occurred to me as I was digging through my cookie cutters. What technique? Simple! I used a drinking straw!
From our Tip Jar
Creating tiny two-toned eyes for your bento creatures can be easy. Lay a slice of cheese on a flat surface, then, with a drinking straw, cut circles from it. Tap out the cheese circle from the straw, then embellish with a nori cut-out pupil. You can either use a sharp pair of scissors, or a craft punch. You don’t have to have a specific eye-shaped craft punch. You can improvise by using parts of more intricate designs. For handling the small pieces, it’s great if you can set aside a special pair of tweezers for handling food, like tiny nori cut-outs.
Since I don’t have to cut out irregular circles using a sharp knife anymore, you can bet that I’ll have fun with these tiny eyes on my bento more often. So, how do I eat bentos with eyes looking at me? Simple. Very gleefully!