Bento 111: Twin Teriyaki chicken & onigiri guide
I made a bento lunch for me & bacon on Sunday – a very rare occassion as bentos are usually for lunch at work rather than at home. I have been meaning to do a step by step onigiri instructables and also putting together a bento. It takes more time than just my regular bento timescales, so I can’t really do this for every single bento, but I find that step by step helps for people new to bento making; certainly did for me when I was starting out. So hopefully, this would be a bento 101 for those new to bentos!
Things to get ready before starting
200g chicken chunks
3tbs Sake (you can use dry sherry, or omit it altogether)
1/4 cup sugar
2in sliced ginger
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup soya sauce
toasted sesame seeds
Rice: freshly cooked calrose rice (japanese short grain), salted water.
Veggies: steamed broccolli, lettuce, sweetcorn, ham/slicing sausage, tomatoes, radish, nori circles, a dry spaghetti.
1) Mix the inggredients for teriyaki sauce (excluding the sesame seeds) in a small saucepan. Add flavourings to taste; I like mine not as sweet so I tend to cut down on the sugar. Let it simmer, and then add the chicken chunks. The sauce should thicken with the simmering, but take care not to overcook the chicken. It would be great if you can use diced chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts; this has recently became available in the UK at Sainsburys’ & Asda.
It should take 15mins simmering to coook the chicken depending on the size of the chunks. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top when done. Cook the brocolli at this stage.
2) Whilst the chicken is cooking, you can start on the onigiris. I colored my freshly cooked rice (warm, not boiling) with some cherry juice, you can leave this step out completely. I also love coloring my rice with freshly grated carrots mixed in with some tumeric or beetroot juice for a brilliant red. Obviously you can use regular food coloring, but I prefer to have it natural if I can. Salt the rice to preserve it – and make sure your fingers and palms are dipped in salted water before handling rice.
The easiest way is to place a sheet of cling film on a small bowl, and then add rice to it. Gently pull the cling film into a sphere/ball, and squeeze it gently to
Just a word of caution; make sure you use ONLY short-grain Japanese rice/Calrose rice. Anything else will not be sticky enough to form onigiris. You can use either brown or white (I used a mixture) and be sure to wet your hands in salted water so the rice does not stick to your palms when handling. Using the cling film helps in shaping the rice into a nice round sphere.
3) Your onigiri is now ready to be decorated! Using polony/slicing sausage/kamaboko/ham/fish sausage; cut out a crinkly 1/3 circular shape like the second picture above. This will form the ‘crown’ for the chicken. A small mini flower cookie cutter works very well.
Roughly break a spaghetti stick into 1in sticks, this is used to hold the ‘crown’ and the corn cob in. Using a puncher; punch out circles from nori (toasted seaweed sheet). I use a nori punch, but you can punch out circles from a normal paper puncher that is dedicated for food-use only. Alternatively, cut circles out with a sicssors or a sharp x-acto knife.
Poke the corn cob & polony in with the spaghetti sticks and fix it to the onigiri. Place the nori eyes on – those will stick without any additional help. Your chickens are now ready!
4) Add lettuce leaves in the boxes, and then place the onigiris in. Pad out all available space with brocolli, this will help hold the onigiris in and minimize movement. You can also use peapods and lettuce leaves for there.
Place the cooled down teriyaki chicken on the second section. On the other half of the section, place in tomatoes and radishes for color and texture.
5) Your bento is now complete! Make sure it has cooled down completely before packing away.