Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mealtime Magic: Kids Summer Charaben

I am not a Pinterest mom, and I have a terrible time making things look good. I see cute bento boxes (also called charabens) and worry about how much time it would take, and how they would turn out. I recently had a chance to try out some ideas from House Foods Tofu, and I was surprised - not only did they actually turn out ok (but still not as good as these photos) but my kids ate some foods they had never tried before! I'm going to share them with you.

Fishing Bento with Tofu Poke

For the Tofu Poke
½ pkg House Foods Premium or Organic Tofu Extra Firm, drained
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp Sesame Oil
2 tsp sugar
¼ Onion, thinly sliced
Nori seaweed
Tools: dry seaweed cutter
1. Drain and press tofu well.
2. Slice tofu horizontally in half and create fish shape with a knife.  Cut the left over tofu into bite size pieces.
3. Mix soy sauce and sesame oil in a bowl. Add sliced onion and marinate for about 5 mins.  Take the onion out and add tofu. Gently mix and transfer to a plate and set aside.  (*Fish shape tofu is fragile, so be careful when dipping into sauce)
4. Cut a piece of nori seaweed to create the face and body parts. Apply to the tofu fish.
(**leftover tofu can be saved and used to make a Tofu Scramble or Tofu Soboro (with a little added sake.)
For the Bento
What you need:
Rice: about 200g, divided
Tofu Poke
Spaghetti pasta: 4 sticks (two pan fried, two boiled)
A piece of nori seaweed
Lettuce, tomatoes, onion (from Tofu Poke)
Tools: Dry seaweed cutter
1. Create one rice ball for head, and 2 small ones for hands for the bear.
2. Cut tofu with knife or some sort of round shape item to create half rounds for bear’s ear.
3. Tie boiled pasta to pan fried pasta to create a fishing pole.
4. Arrange lettuce, tomatoes, onion and the bear in a bento box.
5. Cut a piece of nori seaweed with the dry seaweed cutter to create face parts and apply to the bear with tweezers if available. 
6. Add the tofu poke to the bento, placing below the lettuce.

Hula Girl Bento with Tofu Soboro
For the Tofu Soboro (makes 3 servings)
1 pkg House Foods Premium or Organic Tofu Firm, drained
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
3 Tbsp sake
2 Tbsp sugar
1.  Crumble Tofu into a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat until liquid evaporates.
2. Add soy sauce, sake and sugar. Cook until tofu absorb the sauce
For the Bento
What you need:
3 cups cooked rice, divided:
Tofu Soboro, divided into thirds
Snap peas: 9 (blanched)
Cucumber: few strips
Cherry tomato: 3
Lettuce: 3 leaves
Vegetables for side dish
A piece of nori seaweed
Tools: Dry seaweed cutter                               
1.  Thinly layer about 2/3 of a bento box with rice.
2.  Add another round layer of rice near the top to create a head.
3. Place Tofu Soboro around edges to create hair.
4. Use a lettuce leaf to divide rice and side dishes.
5. Place side dishes on top of the lettuce leaf.
6.  Open snap peas and cut a cherry tomato in half as shown. Prepare strips of cucumber as well.
7. Arrange snap peas to make it look like hula skirt. And then place strips of cucumber on top of snap peas to create grass-like effect.
8. Cut a piece of nori seaweed to create face parts and apply to the face.
9. Repeat steps 1-8 for remaining bentos.

7. Repeat steps 1-6 for remaining bento.

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