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February 19, 2007
Happy New Year (of the Pig)!

[jyubako with pig-shaped sushi, pig-shaped egg and spam nigiri, sticky rice sushi and flowers, and hotdog flowers]

Contents: salmon-rice sushi shaped like little piggies, hotdog flowers with carrot-star centers, kamaboko fans, tricolor swirled sushi made from three flavors of sticky rice, sweet sticky rice flowers, pig-shaped spam nigiri, and a pig-shaped egg

I didn't have to work (too much) today, so I spent a lot more time on bento than I would on an average morning, which is a good thing as today's bento is dedicated to celebrating the new lunar year. Yesterday was the first day of the Year of the Pig (which ends on February 8, 2008). My mom tells me that bearing a child this year would be very fortunate. Mmmhmm...subtlety is not her forte. =P

Anyhow, I used one tier of a large jyubako for today's bento. I've described the items in more detail below.

  • Sushi pigs -- I cooked regular sushi rice in my rice cooker, then mixed it with some sushi vinegar and canned salmon. The salmon lent the rice a light pink color, but I went ahead and added a couple drops of pink food coloring to brighten things up a bit more. I've been wanting to try hana sushi (or designer sushi) for a while. Last weekend I got a book of the same name, and they had a nifty diagram for a pig in it. I didn't have kampyo to make the eyes with, so I used a scallion blade that I sliced in half before rolling in nori. The book I used is listed under my Cookbook Recommendations in my Amazon Lists.
  • Kamaboko fans -- I thinly sliced some kamaboko into half-moon shaped disks. I cut the pointed ends off of each side, then used a sharp paring knife to cut slits into the kamaboko. I then tucked bent each of the slivers and tucked it into the sides to make the fan.
  • Hotdog flowers -- Instructions on how to make these easy garnishes for your bento box are here. I used a micro-cookie cutter to make the star-shaped carrots for the center.
  • Six-petaled green and orange flowers -- I used a tear-shaped cookie cutter to make the orange and green petals that I then arranged in a flower shape. The orange sticky rice is the xoi gac featured in the last bento, and the green sticky rice is another type of sweet sticky rice that tastes very similar to the xoi gac. I'm not sure what it is flavored with. I just like it!
  • Tricolor swirled sushi -- I used mamenori to make three tear-shaped tubes of sushi. The green and orange sticky rice is the same as used in the six-petaled flowers. The yellow rice is yet another type of xoi, this one mixed with mung bean. I rolled the three individual pieces into a single roll. I've mentioned this before, but I'll say it again. Mamenori is hard to work with! It's not sticky like nori, so it slides everywhere and it doesn't stick to itself easily. Argh. It's a small miracle that I managed to get the roll to stick together at all. =)
  • Pig-shaped egg -- Got the idea for this one from Miss Biggie of Lunch in a Box. You take a little Tovolo ice cream sandwich mold (check my Bento Supplies List on Amazon), throw a freshly boiled egg in, then stick in the plunger and rubber band the heck out of it to maintain even pressure. Put the whole thing in the fridge for at least 10 minutes and you'll have yourself a little piggie egg. I dropped mine in some water with red food coloring to get the nice pink color.
  • Pig-shaped Spam nigiri -- I used the same Tovolo mold that I used for the egg to make pig-shaped onigiri. I used the mold to cut pig shapes out of Spam slices that I fried up before topping off the onigiri.

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