Bento no. 35: Special occasion- Spring sushi picnic bento
- Bite size shrimp and caper sushi, about 40 cal per piece
- Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette), 3 eggs worth, cut into 12 pieces - about 30 cal per piece
- Cherry tomatoes
- Blanched snow peas or mangetout
- Carrot flowers
- Cherries (not shown)
This is a bento I made for a little picnic over the weekend.
I've had this vision in my head for a while of little bite size shrimp sushi, and that is what I made. They were rather fiddly to make but turned out rather well I think. Each sushi is topped with half a shrimp, split lengthways - a whole shrimp wouldn't sit well on top of the rice ball. The little dark green thing in the center is a caper. Capers and sushi rice go very well together.
The tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette; follow the link for the how-to) is cut into pieces, so they can be eaten by hand or with a cocktail stick. (To make the heart shape, just cut a slice in half diagonally, and flip one side over.)
The snow peas or mangetout, which are in season right now, are simply blanched in boiling salted water until bright green and crisp-tender. The carrot flowers are cut out with a small cookie cutter and blanched along wit the snow peas.
This is really a fancy variation of Bento no. 20, the shrimp chirashizushi. I made the sushi rice in the same way, using 3 cups of cooked rice for 2 people.
Here's how to assemble this bento:
- Make the sushi rice. (You can do this the night before, and then microwave the rice for about 1 1/2 minutes covered with plastic wrap to make it a bit warm.)
- Put whole frozen or fresh shrimp in a small frying pan. Sprinkle with a little salt, and about 2 Tbs. of sake (you can just use plain water, or leftover white wine). Put on a lid and allow to steam-cook for about 5 minutes. Let cool. Cut the shrimp in half lengthwise.
- Cut out the carrot flowers, and de-string the snow peas.
- Bring a pot of water to the boil, add some salt, and boil the snow peas and carrot flowers. Rinse under cool water to cool rapidly and to fix the color.
- Make the tamagoyaki. Let cool.
- Make the shrimp sushi, by making small balls of sushi rice, flattening slightly, and topping with half a shrimp and a caper. Squeeze together well.
- Put the shrimp sushi in a flat bento box in a checkerboard pattern. Fill the gaps with cherry tomatoes (with the stamens left on for extra color), leaving two gaps for the tamagoyaki. Fill any empty spaces with snow peas, so that the sushi don't move about. Scatter with carrot flowers and more snow peas cut on the diagonal.
- Cut two tamagoyaki hearts in the remaining gaps. (Carry the rest of the tamagoyaki in a separate container.)
Here's the bento seen from above.
It does take some time to assemble this (it took me about 40 minutes to make enough for two people (about 18 sushi balls in total, packed into two bento boxes), but sometimes the extra effort is worth it! You might consider reserving such efforts for a party or special occasion.
The everyday version
This is an everyday bento using more or less the same ingredients. This one is much faster to assemble! Follow the general timeline for Bento no. 20 to make chirashizushi bento like this.
Food safety notes
Sushi rice is a good keeper, and the shrimp are cooked, so this is safe to bring along as bento. Obviously you do not want to leave it out in a hot car for hours or in the full sun. If you want to be extra careful, consider packing this bento with an icepack inside a cooler.
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