Another late post for me, but I promise it is worth the wait since you will be able to make a cute bear with rice. 😉
When I got the idea of making my daughter’s snack box look cute, I went to Japan Store and bought a couple of bento gadgets. After a couple of tries, I realized that I could had started out with some basic things around the house. The only gadget I really needed was the nori (dried seaweed puncher), but not really.
Anyway, let’s start.
To make the bear face with rice you need:
- Cling/Saran wrap
- Small round measuring spoon or any other to mold the inner ears
- Medicine cup (the ones that come with a cold syrup) or a larger measuring spoon to mold the mouth
- Small scissor
- Thin knife
- Nori Puncher (optional)
- Hot steaming rice
- Sliced cheese
- Nori (Dried Seaweed)
- Furikake (optional)
Furikake is Japanese rice seasoning. There are literally hundreds of different kind from salmon, anchovies, teriyaki chicken to pickled plum. My daughter loves them. Since this is a snack box, sometimes I just mixed furikake and rice since she will be having lunch right after school anyway
- Lunch box with a separator or a narrow type
1. Sliced Cheese
Open the wrapper, keep the cheese on the wrapper and place it on a flat surface. I got too excited and removed the wrapper.
Make the inner part of the bear ears by pressing it halfway at the edge of the sliced cheese making a half circle. Make two.
For the mouth, I would like it to be not too round. So I press the medicine cup to an oval shape and cut in 3/4 from the edge. And then I cut the flat side with the same oval shape carefully, trying my best to make a good shape. When the cheese gets a little softer later on, I pressed around the uneven edged in an attempt to make it look smooth.
Mix rice with furikake as even as possible. I just eyeball the amount of rice, maybe around 1/3 – 1/2 cup of rice. If you mix too much, you can always nibble on it ;P. Make sure it is really hot and steaming so you can easily shaped it.
I saw Japanese children in Chloe’s class who brought rice balls wrapped with cling wrap and go this idea.
Cut some cling wrap and place majority of your rice on it. Wrap top to bottom. As you shape you want to adjust the plastic to make sure there is no plastic creases around the rice. This way your rice shape will be nice and neat.
Place your bear face into the lunch box.
Now to make the ears, place about a tea spoon of rice into the cling wrap and shape it like pictured. Make two.
The reason why I recommend a narrow lunch box or the one with a divider like mine is to support and keep the ears in place. To help the ears stick even better, I squished some left over cheese and used it as adhesive.
After you place the ears you can put the cheese pieces in place using the knife.
Now punch the nori with a nori puncher to make the eyes, nose and mouth. Since nori is sensitive, usually punch twice or three times just to have extra. You can also make the eyes and mouth using a small scissor. I had done it before. It is not as fine, but it still look good.
Since the furikake contained nori, the nori eyes will not stand out. So place the nori eyes on top of the cheese and cut the cheese 2-3 mm around the shapes to make an outline.
Wait until the rice cools down before placing the nori shapes.
Here’s my daughter’s favorite bento set up. Rice, yakult, cheese and jelly.
I hope my instructions are clear enough. I am open to any questions and will edit my instructions to make things clearer.
PS: I cannot recommend you the nori puncher that I was using, because it died. It took me sometime to pass the nori sheet through the slit, which should not had happened. After I was done, I was not able to pass the sheet anymore. So I am in the market for a new one.