The back to school blues couldn’t be more real, but it doesn’t mean your little one’s baon has to look and feel blue too. We challenge you to amp up the way you do your baons. And the perfect time for cute bento bonanzas is now! The best part? It gets your kiddos to see their lunches in a whole new light. Pair their ulams with these Three Little Pigs Rice Balls that we guarantee your picky eaters will love. The recipe is courtesy of Nikki Garcia a.k.a. Nikkimbento herself, with the bento serving at most three people.
Preparation and cooking Time: 30 to 45 minutes
¼ cup sugar beet juice, for color (optional)
1 cup freshly cooked warm rice
salt, to taste
FOR THE FACES
1 slice thick-cut deli ham
1 stick raw spaghetti noodles
1 boiled egg, egg white extracted
- Roughly chop some sugar beets into small 1-inch chunks. Boil in 2 cups water until pink. Set aside.
- Cook rice, and scoop approximately 1 cup in a mixing bowl. Slowly mix in the beet juice a teaspoon at a time, until the desired pink color is achieved. Add a pinch of salt, if desired.
- To form the rice ball, use cling wrap to scoop approximate 4 heaping tablespoons of pink rice in the center. Grab the 4 ends to make a small sack. Mold the rice into a ball, roughly the size of a tennis ball. Set aside.
FOR THE FACES
- Take the sandwich ham and cut a small oval for the snout. Use the tip of a small straw to poke 2 holes for the nostrils.
- Break off a 1-inch piece of raw spaghetti noodle. Scoop the pink rice into the cling wrap, and form the ears. Insert the spaghetti noodle into the first ear and skewer into the top of the rice ball. Repeat this for the second ear. Position the nose and lay at the center of the rice ball.
- Take the olives and punch out two circles for the eyes. You may also punch out some circles from the egg white to garnish the eyes.
- Gently position the facial parts on the pig’s face. Repeat these steps for the next 2 pigs to complete the family.
Chef’s Note: Use sharp scissors or a clean craft puncher to cut out different nori shapes to give your piggies unique facial expressions. You can also stuff the rice balls with some meat, like an onigiri, should you wish.