The Daily Spud

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A Little Bit O’ Bento

I’ll admit that what you will see below was more carefully assembled (to say nothing of being more psychedelic) than my lunchbox usually is, but, in the bento scheme of things, I’m not sure that it counts as being especially kawaii. (If, at this point, you are sporting a blank or quizzical stare, then I should explain that bento refers to a packed meal common in Japanese cuisine and kawaii to the cuteness thereof – and some bentos are, indeed, tremendously cute).

The call to create a bento began (as many things do these days) as a series of exchanges on Twitter, resulting in an invitation from Chef Pandita to take up the bento challenge – a mission that has been variously tagged on Twitter as #bentomadness, #bentocuteness, #badassbento and (my own particular favourite) #halfassbento.

Bento

Lunch is served, bento-style

And while I will say that my efforts to fashion a face out of my food might indeed have been a bit half-assed (I mean, did you even guess that it was a face?), the assembled items, nonetheless, made for a satisfying and seasonal summer lunch (and that, surely, counts as a bento win).

Proudly making up the face in the top half of the box were the first of my newly harvested potatoes (woohoo!) tossed in homemade garlic mayonnaise, with spring onion slices for hair and two egg and smoked salmon rolls for eyes. Below, a triangle of toasted brown soda bread, topped with a cherry tomato smile (yes, I know, work with me on this), a carrot nose (no, I don’t actually know anyone who has a nose that looks even vaguely like that) and an anatomically misplaced cucumber moustache. It was, truly, a face made for eating, so that is precisely what I did.

Egg and Smoked Salmon Rolls

Egg and smoked salmon rolls

These simple rolls were a vague nod to the Japanese origins of bento and the sushi rolls you might find in a Japanese bento box, though the fish used here is the much more Irish choice of smoked salmon. The recipe below, using a single egg, will make about 4 rolls, which will do one or two people, depending on how much else you’re having for lunch. You can easily double the amounts (or more) depending on how many you want to serve.

You’ll need:

  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1.5 tblsp cream cheese
  • 1 tsp finely chopped chives
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g smoked salmon, sliced thinly
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tblsp finely diced cucumber

You’ll also need:

  • A small frying pan, around 20cm diameter, plus cocktail sticks to hold the rolls

The Steps:

  • Place your frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, add oil to coat the pan.
  • Beat the egg and add a pinch of salt. Add to the pan and swirl so that it coats the pan thinly and evenly. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the egg has set. Remove and allow to cool.
  • Mix the cream cheese with the chives and a little black pepper and spread onto the cooked egg. Top with the smoked salmon and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Place a line of diced cucumber across the middle of the smoked salmon and egg pile, then, starting from an edge parallel to the line of cucumber, roll the whole thing up – the cucumber should end up in the middle of the roll.
  • Slice into 4 pieces, skewer with cocktail sticks and serve.

The Variations:

  • You could tweak these by, say, adding a little crushed garlic when cooking the egg and/or adding some chopped dill to the cream cheese either instead of, or in addition, to the chives.

The Results:

  • Makes 4 individual rolls.

15 Comments

  1. I love it! looks like a Mr. Grass-head :D really cute and original.

  2. Daily Spud

    Friday, July 1, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Aw thanks Yuri, glad he actually managed to look like someone! :D

  3. That’s the best thing I ever saw! And, I’m very impressed with a face that can sport a mustache *over* its nose! :lol:

    Aside from the cute factor, it sounds like a great lunch! Bet those potatoes were great w/the homemade mayo. And, I like your container, too.

    Hooray for #bentowhathaveyou! :)

  4. You have always been “kawaii” to me. GREG

  5. Wow. Cute! You got skillz. :)

  6. This is wonderful! But, clearly he looks like Wilson from the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks. Dead ringer! Very bento-meets-Ireland with the salmon, soda bread and of course spuds. Cannot wait to share w/ my son. . .the one who(true story) wears the “I Love Potatoes” shirt. Awesome–and inspiring!

  7. These look delish, what a great way to use smoked salmon! A very special lunch :)

  8. Daily Spud

    Friday, July 1, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Jenni: Maybe I should consider a career in plastic surgery – clearly I have very special facial construction skills, lol! Seriously, though, the lunch was good, especially the spuds :)

    SippitySup: *blush* thanks Greg

    Lisa: thanks so much, you’re most kind :)

    Nancy: Yes, yes, *that’s* who it looks like – it shall henceforth be known as Wilson! And your son sounds like a man after my own heart :)

    Aine: the salmon and egg were a nice way to add a bit of interest to the salad and I’ll vouch for the fact that the whole thing was quite tasty!

  9. I love your bento! I love the way you presented it. My son loves salmon and egg and I may just do this for him, as a “care box”, even if he’s grown now. Thanks for the fun shared in this Bento event!

  10. I love it! So creative and healthy too

  11. I saw the face right away! And he DOES look like Wilson!
    Kudos on this awesome bento. I actually prefer the ones that take some imagination to fill in the blanks. So satisfying :)

  12. You’ve really captured the soul of a bento box – it must be as beautiful as it is delicious, and yours definitely fits the bill! :) MM has been taking the bento box to work almost daily but I’ll have to sneak it for myself one day to recreate your lovely lunch.

  13. Daily Spud

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Elizabeth: It was fun to do! And I hope you make this for your son even if he is grown now – no need to restrict bento boxes to little people :)

    Cherrie: Thanks, so glad you liked it :)

    Sheri: I can see it as nothing but Wilson now :D

    Clare: thanks hon’, think I’ll have to get better at creating lunches like this for myself too!

  14. Notwithstanding the anatomical glitches, this is quite the handsome bento! Normally, it would be mildly disturbing to say that I want to take a bit from a face, but in this case, I think I may be forgiven. I am loving the egg and smoked salmon rolls – I may not even bother to put them in a bento before devouring the whole lot! 8-)

  15. Daily Spud

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Hey TN, I actually devoured most of the egg and smoked salmon rolls before they got anywhere near the bento! If I’d eaten any more of them, the bento would have looked more like cyclops than Wilson :D

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