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the most tasteless bibimbap I’ve ever had – part1 August 29, 2009

Posted by AnnaTheRed in Everything else.
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Last Friday was the going away party for one of my co-workers at a karaoke place nearby work. But since it didn’t start until 8:00, my boyfriend, my friends/co-workers and I decided to grab something to eat before going to the karaoke place. The karaoke place was in Korean town in NYC, so we just went to one of Korean restaurants by the karaoke place.

Two of my other friends and I ordered bibimbap (rice, vegetable and raw egg on the top, usually comes in a sizzling hot stone bowl), my boyfriend and other friend ordered jap chae (stir fried mix vegetables and rice noodle), my other friend ordered bulgogi. (Korean BBQ)

When the waitress brought my food, it looked so good that I took a picture of it.

Looks can be so deceiving.

I mixed it, and started eating.

I mixed some more  and ate some more.

A couple of minutes after we started eating, my friend who was eating bulgogi asked my friend who was eating bibimbap. “So how’s your bibimbap?” She said “Well, it’s a little…” then she paused. So I finished her sentence with “…bland.” We had a “I’m so glad that I wasn’t only one thinking that!” moment. When I started eating, I couldn’t taste anything, so I mixed more, thinking that there was some flavor hidden inside. I kept on mixing and eating, waiting for the explosion of flavors, but it didn’t happen. It was like a puzzle from Professor Layton that’s worth about 99 picarats. “Where did the flavor go?” There was meat and so many vegetables in it, but you could taste NOTHING!

My friend put a little bit of salt on it, I even tried dumping a bit of the sauce that came with pa jun (Korean pancake) on it. But anything you put in, it was quickly absorbed by the mass of flavorlessness! My boyfriend usually helps me finish my dish when I can’t eat it by myself, but he couldn’t even finish the two spoonfuls of my bibimbap. My other friend who also ordered bibimbap said if I put a lot of hot sauce in it, it’d be fine. But I refused to numb my mouth just to eat the flavorless mushy rice.

It didn’t taste bad, it just had no taste whatsoever. I’ve never had a bibimbap like this one before, and I’m not a picky eater or harsh food critic at all. I wasn’t angry or anything though. Actually, it was so tasteless that it was funny. We spent long time talking about how it was possible for something packed with so much food to taste so bland.

I still didn’t want to waste it, so I took my leftovers and my friend’s leftovers home, and I decided to make rice croquettes with it tonight. I didn’t feel like deep frying, so I used a toaster oven this time. I mixed the bibimbap with a little bit of ketchup and parmesan cheese, made small rice balls using plastic wrap. Then I put mayonnaise on plastic wrap, rolled the rice balls over, and put them in a bowl of panko.(Japanese bread crumbs) I baked them until they were golden brown.

Born-again bibimbap

The outside was crispy and inside had much more flavor from ketchup and parmesan cheese. The inside was still a bit mushier than I wanted, but the crispy panko on the outside definitely helped.

I still have more bibimbap leftovers. So I guess I’ll try making something different with bibimbap tomorrow. It’s weird but I must say I’m kind of enjoying this leftover food make-over. 😛

how to make domo-kun croquettes August 8, 2009

Posted by AnnaTheRed in how-to - characters (Ghibli, video game, Wall-E).
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Croquettes are a very popular food in Japan. For those who don’t know what croquettes are, croquettes are deep fried mashed potato with any kind of minced meat or fish and sometimes with vegetable. The great thing about croquettes are that they’re easy to make, and you can put pretty much anything in it. Also, you can make many croquettes at once, and freeze them for later. You can make croquette only with potato. I added meat and onions for this how to, but if you aren’t a big meat eater, you can just use drained tuna or varieties of vegetables like corn, peas, carrots, etc…

Domo-kun croquette in bento!

[Domo-kun croquette] (makes about 15 ~ 18 small croquettes)
– 1~2 potato (I used 2)
– 1~2 eggs beaten with 1 TBS of vegetable oil mixed very well (for batter)
– flour (for batter)
– panko or bread crumbs (for batter)
– Oil for deep frying
– *1/2 lbs of minced meat (I used minced beef) OR soboro (see “how to make soboro”)
– *1~1 1/2 onion (I used 1)
*[Seasoning for meat] (This isn’t absolutely necessary. You can season the meat anyway you want.)
– 1 TBS of soy sauce
– 2 TBS of sugar
– 1 TBS sake

1. Make mashed potato either by boiling, baking or microwaving. Peel the potato or scoop out the contents with a spoon and mash!

2. Cook chopped onion and minced beef until liquid from the onion and meat is gone. If you have “soboro” already made or want to use tuna, skip to Step 4.

Make sure you cook until the liquid from onion and meat is gone.

3. When the onion and meat are cooked, season it with soy sauce, sugar and sake, and cook until the liquid is gone.  *As I stated in the beginning, this seasoning is optional.

Make sure you cook until the liquid is gone.

4. Mix cooked meat (or soboro or tuna) into the mashed potato.

5. You can just mold mashed potato in a rectangular shape with your hands, but I spread it on a baking pan, flattened it and cut it with a butter knife. This way, each croquette is pretty much the same size, and also it makes it easier to make rectangular shaped Domo-kun. Don’t make them too big though. If it’s too big, it might break when you’re putting it into the egg later.

6. Cover shaped mashed potato with plastic wrap so it doesn’t  get dry, and put it in the fridge for 15~20 minutes or until the potato and meat is completely cooled down. This process is very important! If the potato isn’t cooled down, the croquette will break apart in the oil.

7. Once the potato is cooled down, put it in flour, and then into beaten egg, and into panko/bread crumbs. I used both panko and regular bread crumbs so people could see the difference.
*If you want to freeze, you can put them in the freezer after you put bread crumbs.

From the top left: Bread crumbs, Flour, Beaten egg, Panko.

Carefully put flour on a croquette.

It gets messy when you put croquettes in egg, so I usually put flour on all the croquettes first.

Put egg all over the croquette without breaking it!

As soon as you put egg on croquette, put it in a bowl of panko/bread crumbs and cover croquette with panko/bread crumbs very well.

Top row: basic round croquette with panko
2nd row: croquette with bread crumbs
3rd & 4th row: croquette with panko (*Freeze croquette here if you want to freeze them)

7. Heat up vegetable oil at medium heat, and when the oil is hot, carefully put the croquettes in, one at a time.

Tip: Don't put too many croquettes at once. It'll lower the temperature of the oil and it'll takes very long to cook.

Tip: Once you put them in, DO NOT MOVE CROQUETTES AROUND! Just wait until they come up to the surface.

*I’ve tried frying in a frying pan, but because the croquette’s skin was touching the bottom of the pan, and the skin started to fall apart when I flipped them. So I highly recommend deep frying.

*I've tried pan frying croquettes before: What a mess! You can still eat it, but it's a quite messy and the color is very uneven.

*I also tried using a toaster oven. It took very long to get panko/bread crumbs golden brown. (See the picture in Step 9)

8. Use a straw to cut cheese, and put cut seaweed on the cheese for the eyes (I used a hole punch). Cut red pepper into square for the mouth, and cut cheese for the teeth.

9. Once the croquettes are cooled down, put eyes and mouth on the croquette!

Domo-kun croquette with panko

Domo-kun croquette with regular bread crumbs (just a bit less fuzzy)

Domo-kun croquette with regular bread crumbs (just a bit less fuzzier)

Domo-kun croquette cooked in an oven toaster (definitely lighter than deep fried one)

Fried with a frying pan: The color was sooo unveven! Ive made these when I was trying to do a how-to the first time. These made me think about re-doing the whole how-to...

I've made this the first time when I was trying to do this how-to. Also, this made me think about re-doing the whole how-to...

You can eat croquettes with ketchup or mayonnaise or both! (My boyfriend likes ketchup mixed with mayonnaise)

It seems like a lot of work, but if you’re making a lot of croquettes at once to freeze them like me, it’s so worth  it. (It’s very cheap to make it too!) When you’re frying frozen croquette, you should bring the frozen croquettes to room temperature OR microwave it to cook the inside the croquette (stick a toothpick in a croquette to see if it’s cooked inside) before frying it. If you fry it while frozen, it’ll break apart in the oil.

How to make domo-kun croquette on my flickr

For more pictures of my bento, visit Bento! set and Bento details! set on my flickr page.

If you have any questions about any of my how-to’s, please feel free to leave a comment or email me!

bento #60: domo-kun August 4, 2009

Posted by AnnaTheRed in bento blog (all), bento blog - anime.
Tags: , , , ,

I was going to do a how-to on this and did a photo shoot on Sunday night, but it was getting late, and I was very sleepy & sloppy…
The croquettes didn’t look very good in the photos, so I decided to re-shoot some stuff again. I’ll post a how-to sometimes this week. But since I had already made them, I decided to use them for a quick regular-ish bento.

Bento #60: Domo-kun
Created and eaten on: 8/3/2009

I didn’t wake up early this day, and I was just going to put together a regular bento with a couple of Domo-kun croquettes. But the Domo-kuns were staring at me with their beady eyes, and I couldn’t resist but to make a little effort to make it look a bit nicer than a regular bento. (but not as complicated as a kyaraben)

First I put rice on the bento box.

YES, this is how much rice my boyfriend usually eats. His regular bento, like this one, might have a little more rice than a kyaraben (because a kyaraben has more non-rice food than a regular bento), but not by much. It may not look like the kyaraben I make has that much rice, but because the rice is usually molded in my kyaraben, it look like there’s a lot less rice than my regular bento. We both LOOOVE rice and eat a lot of it.

After I put rice, I put sauteed renkon (lotus root) on the side next to rice. I asked how many Domo-kun he wanted, and he said three, so I put three Domo-kuns next to the rice.

Looking a bit too crowded. Kind of like a Japanese train at rush hour.

Of course, there weren’t enough veggies, so I boiled broccoli, sprinkled salt on it and stuffed it around a Domo-kun. To brighten up the bento I added two cherry tomatoes with corns.

Rice kept falling onto Domo-kun, so I cut snowpeas with a diamond shaped cutter, and stuck them between the rice and Domo-kuns. I threw some frozen cut out carrot from the freezer (see “how to freeze carrot flowers”) to add more color.

But the rice was still more than half of the bento box… So I sprinkled black sesame seeds on top. It may look weird, but black sesame seed and a little bit of salt on rice is very common seasoning (?) for rice in Japan.

This is an amazingly half-assed bento. It probably took 30 minutes or so. Not sure this is considered a kyaraben, but since Domo-kun is a character, I thought “Oh, why not?” If I had more time, I definitely would’ve done something to the rice though. Not as exciting as my usual kyaraben, but just three Domo-kuns were cute enough to brighten up the bento.

– potato and beef croquette
– red pepper with cheese for the mouth
– cheese and seaweed for the eyes

Other food:
– rice with black sesame seed
– broccoli
– cherry tomato stuffed with corns
– renkon
– snowpeas

For more pictures of my bento, visit Bento! set and Bento details! set on my flickr page.