Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Halloween foods and bentos!

First the bento boxed lunches!

Single Tier: Sticky rice, steamed purple cauliflower "trees", snow pea "grass", nori bats, and American cheese moon. Packet of instant miso soup on the side.
Snack: Apple, two candy corn Hershey's kisses, and snack sized Snickers.
Single Tier: Four homemade smoked salmon and cream cheese "sushi" rolls (more like kimbap since there's no seasoning in the rice) with nori bats and pumpkins and cut up snow peas.
Snack: Black and white halloween dango with savory sweet sauce ("Troll oysters and Goblin blood"), blueberry daifuku, Hershey's dark chocolate snack bar.

Now for the "normal" foods!

Close ups of the Halloween Dango.
("Troll oysters with Goblin blood.")
Another close-up.
Spicy Shrimp Bokkeum over glutinous rice
("Witch Finders with Enchanted Giant Carrots")
Sauted Fennel with Lotus Seeds
Baked Fresh Beets
Seedless Watermelon carved into a brain.
(First time I ever did that... I think it turned out well.)
Close up of the Halloween sushi. :-)

Rice Buns a plenty

I've heard of rice buns for a while now, well over a year. Not buns made with rice flour, but buns made with glutinous (sticky japanese) rice. Glutinous rice does not contain gluten. It's called glutinous due to it's sticky nature. I wanted to make some, but I never got around to it for whatever reason.

Well... I finally made some.

If you ever made onigiri, the concept is very similar. The steps are as well.

To make Rice Buns: Cook glutinous rice as usual. (Methods are slightly different depending on whether you are using a rice cooker or not. There are many websites that explain how to cook rice in each instance.) Let rice cool enough that you can handle it without burning yourself. Fill a bowl halfway with water and add some salt. Stir until the salt is mostly dissolved. Take a handful of rice and press into a bun shape, making sure to apply an even, firm pressure. Basically, the same thing you would do with onigiri, except you are making a bun shape. Keep rewetting your hands with the salty water as you work or the rice will stick to your hands and become hard to manage. Heat some oil in a pan, just enough to lightly coat the pan. Add the rice buns. Gently turn the buns over after a minute or so. There should be a light crispy coating forming. **If you want to add some flavoring and color, you can brush the cooked side with some soy sauce while the other side is cooking, turn the buns over and brush the freshly cooked side with more soy sauce and finish by toasting that side again as well.

Do NOT broil the buns or try toasting them in the oven. This draws too much moisture out and makes the texture unpleasant. I have yet to try toasting them on my kitchen grill.

Rice buns are so easy and inexpensive to make. We have had them with hamburgers, egg sandwiches, tuna fish salad, peanut butter and jelly, and even cream cheese and jelly. I actually prefer these over baking or buying gluten free bread, if for no other reason than the low cost, neutral flavor, pleasant texture, and how easily I can throw them together. I plan to try flavoring them in other ways, by adding other sauces as glazing or by adding herbs. Maybe add a little food coloring to make them look more like bread buns.

They don't store incredibly well, but I've used older, cooked, unformed glutinous rice with great results. Some people freeze them until ready for use, but I have yet to do that. I usually eat them fast enough that there's no concern. ;-)