Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mameshiba Charaben

For a few days now I've been thinking about a Mameshiba charaben - you may remember the post I did a while back on these cute little "bean dogs." Well, last night's kitchen madness led to not one but two of these adorable little guys!

(As you can see I only had tungsten light available at 11pm - ick!)

To get the rice a green color, I made arroz verde, which isn't too hard to do. Here's how:

1/2 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro sprigs (about 1/2 oz.)
1 cup tightly packed fresh stemmed spinach leaves (about 1-1/2 oz.)
1-1/4 cups homemade or low-salt chicken broth
1-1/4 cups milk
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups white rice (short grain is better for molding, but long grain will do)
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced

In a blender, puree the cilanto, spinach and broth. (Being vegetarian, I used a no-chicken broth, but vegetable broth would work just as well.) Add the milk and salt and blend a little more.

In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil and butter, and add your rice to brown - this takes about 4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook for another few minutes. Then toss in the lovely green contents from your blender, stir well, turn the heat to low and bring to a boil. Cover and leave for approx. 20 minutes. Once done, you'll want to stir this gently and cook for an additional 5 minutes, uncovered. Leave this sitting for at least 10 minutes before handling.

The bean shape is pretty easy to mold with your hands. For the ears, I sliced the shape out of a green pepper, cut a slit into the bean rice and stuck into place.

The eyes and mouth are cheese and nori, sliced with an X-Acto. The stars are yellow pepper made with a small star cookie mold.

I accented these bentos with food had on hand: a bed of kale, sauteed broccoli, grape tomatoes, faux chicken nuggets and some strips of (lightly peppered + pan fried) seitan.