Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fried Rice Balls, Chocolate Banana Muffins, and Bentos--oh my!

I've been experimenting with bento boxes lately. I happened into a beautiful bento box that I've been trying to use. I love the concept of the bento, and the gods know I could use help finishing up leftovers. I've put together a few so far that I'd like to share here, as well as a couple of recipes that have made it into my bentos.

This was my first bento lunch. I made a sushi roll of smoked salmon, avocado, and green onion with some leftover sushi rice and partial package of lox leftover from breakfast. I also had some grilled shrimp from the night before, so I rolled that up with shredded carrot into a spring roll. My teeny sauce bottles held soy sauce and my own plum dipping sauce. To round out my meal, I had miso soup and some watermelon in a separate container.

My next bento saw some more of the grilled shrimp, this time in its originally prepared state. With rice leftover from Chinese takeout, I made the fried rice balls you see in the top section (recipe below). The bottom section had a salad of shredded carrot and fresh mushrooms, and a few watermelon balls. Again, you see the teeny bottle of soy and plum sauce.

My youngest offspring expressed an interest in taking a bento lunch to school, so this is what I packed for her this morning. Once again, we had leftover shrimp (the mild version from last night's dinner). Also included are carrot sticks and broccoli, corn salad, whole wheat tortilla cut into fun shapes, and a Laughing Cow wedge of spreadable cheese. For dessert, she had grapes and a chocolate banana mini muffin (recipe below).

So far, I'm having a great time making these little lunches, and I will likely be making many more in the future. Now on the the recipes!

2 c leftover long grain rice
1 c water
2 tbs cream
1 egg, beaten
3 tbs onion, finely chopped
2 green onion stalks, finely chopped
2 tbs seaweed, finely chopped
1 tsp red pepper powder
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbs protein of choice, cooked and finely chopped (suggestions below)
1 tbs sauce of choice (suggestions below)
1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp salt
1/2-3/4 c flour
oil for frying

Mix water with rice in a medium sauce pan and bring to a very low boil. Cook until water is absorbed; remove from heat.

In a large bowl, beat together cream, egg, onions, seaweed, red pepper, and baking powder. Stir in the rice until evenly coated. Mix protein, sauce, sesame seeds, and 1 tsp of the salt into the rice mixture. Stir in flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until mixture is thick enough to shape into balls.

Heat 1 inch of oil in a heavy pot over medium to medium-high heat. With floured hands, shaped the rice mixture into 2-inch diameter balls.

Fry the balls for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain the rice balls on paper towels. Sprinkle with remaining salt and serve.

Protein suggestions:
Salmon (used in the photo above)
Spam (a Korean favorite, of all things)

Sauce suggestions:
Plum sauce (used with the salmon in the photo above)
Teriyaki marinade
Fish sauce
Hoisin sauce
BBQ sauce
Sour cream

1 3/4 c flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and bananas.

Stir flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins. For mini muffins, bake 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; standard muffin tins take about 25 minutes to bake.


  1. I want a bento box!! Built-in portion control, love it. The teeny condiment bottles are awesome too.

    The rice balls sound good...I bet they'd be great with seitan or tempeh too.

  2. i bought collin a bento box lunch box over the summer.... it's fun to come up with fun ideas to stuff into the boxes... and decreased baggie usage never hurts.....

    these recipes look good.

  3. I *adore* the bento concept. Variety and reducing waste? Yes please! I'm already planning to clear a shelf for bento supplies....