Baon Bonanza: Three Little Pigs Rice Balls

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Make any school day an exciting day of possibilities with this super adorable bento-inspired packed lunch by Nikki Garcia.

Nikki Garcia is a mother to picky eaters. Her creative bento boxes initially began as a way to get her children to try new food. This eventually became Nikkimbento, her two- year strong venture. For more innovative concoctions, follow her on IG (@nikkimbento) or email her at nikkimbento@gmail.com

Preparation and cooking time: 30-45 minutes
Serves 3

Ingredients
1⁄4 cup sugar beet juice, for color
1 cup rice, warm and freshly cooked
salt, to taste

For the Pigs
1 slice thick-cut deli ham
1 stick raw spaghetti noodle
3 olives
1 boiled egg, egg white extracted

Procedure
1 Roughly chop some sugar beets into small 1-inch chunks. Boil in 2 cups water until pink. Set juice aside.
2 Cook rice and scoop approximately 1 cup of it in a small 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.
3 To form the rice ball, use cling wrap to scoop approximately 4 heaping tablespoons of
pink rice in the center. Grab the 4 ends to form a small sack. Mold the rice into a ball, roughly as large as a tennis ball. Wrapped in cling wrap and set aside.

For the Pigs
1 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.
2 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 rice ball. Repeat this for the second ear. Position the nose and lay at the center of the rice ball.
3 Take the olives and punch out 2 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.

Recipe by Nikki Garcia of Nikkimbento
Photography by Mike Chua

This recipe was originally published in the August-September 2017 issue of Breakfast Magazine.