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Posted on Dec 6, 2007 in Bento, Equipment, For Kids, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Meat, Onigiri or Sushi, Rice | 19 comments

Do-it-yourself Korean dosirak lunch

Do-it-yourself Korean dosirak lunch

Parents know that kids love to play with their food, which is one reason those unholy Lunchables are so popular. Take advantage of this inclination by finding ways to pack lunches they can assemble or garnish at lunchtime. Today’s lunch has a little container of furikake that my preschooler sprinkled on his rice, but there are endless ways to put a do-it-yourself spin on a packed lunch. Think Sloppy Joe sandwiches, veggie sticks dipped in dressing or hummus, zarusoba noodle nests with dipping sauce, French toast with spreads, tamales with salsa or crema, veggie nuggets with dipping sauce, etc. Use your imagination to make lunch fun!

Korean bento lunch for toddler

Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Korean barbecue leftovers comprise this dosirak (도시락, or Korean box lunch). Bean sprout and spinach namul (Korean seasoned vegetables served as a side dish at a meal), grilled onions and red/yellow bell peppers, sauteed enoki mushrooms with butter and soy sauce, marinated beef cubes, rice, train-shaped Shinkansen pre-cut nori seaweed, and nori-flavored furikake rice sprinkles. The Shinkansen nori was fast and from a package, but you can make your own pre-cut decorative nori on the cheap with scrapbooking punches or scissors and store it in an airtight container with dessicant. (Click any photo for a larger view.)

Shinkansen pre-cut noriMorning prep time: 8 minutes, using all leftovers except the enoki mushrooms. In the morning I quickly pan-fried the mushrooms in my mini frying pan with a bit of butter, salt, and pepper, then a dash of soy sauce at the end for flavor. Speed tip: when preparing enoki mushrooms, use a sharp knife to cut right through the thin plastic bag about an inch from the bottom to open the bag and trim the mushrooms at the same time.

Mini cooling racks and panPacking: The flavors of the lunch were complimentary, so I didn’t bother with any sort of food divider (edible or plastic). After pan-frying the mushrooms, I drained and briefly cooled them on a mini cooling rack for best food safety, then packed in the bento. Packed in a 360ml Disney Cars bento box with one sub-divider removed.

Verdict: Surprisingly, this got only half eaten. Three-year-old Bug had totally devoured all of these same dishes two days earlier at dinner, so I thought he would eat this up. But when I picked him up at preschool I found that he’d eaten all of the rice and furikake but only a little of the rest. His teacher shed light on the subject, though — it turns out that when Bug sees one of his friends finish their lunch and get up to play, he puts the lid on his lunch right away and gets up to go play with them, no matter how much (or little) he’s eaten!!! Evidently the sensei (teacher) started noticing this recently and has tried to encourage him to finish his lunch.

Furikake dispenserEquipment: I tried out some new furikake rice seasoning dispensers that I picked up at (where else) Daiso in Daly City for US$1.50 (for the pair). JList sells the same furikake dispensers here (with international shipping). They’ve got loose twist caps with holes that line up to let you sprinkle fresh furikake on your rice just before eating. Furikake isn’t the only thing that could go in these, though; other loose dry flavorings like pepper flakes or grated Parmesan cheese would fit nicely. You could also recreate the shakers on the cheap by using small spice jars with perforated lids, or even just a regular wide-mouthed sauce container or small condiment cup.

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  1. This looks really good. Now I know why my Korean (boarding school) students miss barbecue so much!

  2. Playing with your food isn’t just for kids either :P I like having a fun lunch to brighten my day :)

    One thing that I saw on flickr a couple times but haven’t tried myself is having a container of soup (or even a package of instant soup mix of some kind) and stuff to put in or sprinkle on it.

  3. Oh, I’ve been wondering.. do you ever send drinks with Bug? I was just curious what kind of drinks you send, since there’s the whole controversy over soda and even fruit juice for having unnecessary calories.. Thanks :)

  4. My daughter loves to play with her food. She prefers sauces, dips, and finger foods to everything else.

  5. @1 from eudyptes: Korean barbecue is soooo addictive, just be sure to wear washable clothes when you’re making it so that you can get the (yummy) smoke smell out of them afterwards!

  6. @2 from eskay: I tried to follow the Flickr link in your sig but it was broken — were you trying to point to an illustrative photo of the soup?

  7. @3 from ibii: You know, I don’t usually send anything as the preschool serves all of the children water. Occasionally I’ll send along a drink container with about 1/4 juice and 3/4 water.

  8. @4 from Maggie: Perfect opportunity to make food fun for your playful daughter!

  9. Biggie… I love this blog. I am a sleepy, poor, hour-and-a-half commuting to school college student who packs bento since I can’t afford lunch. I love looking at other peoples bentos for ideas. I sure with you’d pack me some ;)
    Anyhow, I thought I’d share something i have recently discovered… this may be old news, but in the grocery section of our local Target store, I passed something that stopped me in my tracks. They are called sugar pears– and they are pears the size of CHICKEN EGGS. They are amazing little things, and quite tasty too.

  10. @10 from Shen: Thanks for the kind words, Shen! If I pack your bento, will you pack one for me? ;-)

    Thanks also for the heads up on the sugar pears — they sound perfect for bento lunches! Miniature fruit rules because you can just throw the whole thing into your box, instead of taking time to prep it.

  11. I love the little nori cut outs. How cute! :0)

  12. Me too, love the shinkansen pre-cut nori. Wonder if I can get these stuff here in SG. :-)

  13. @12 from Mer: Thanks, Mer! Love your blog name, BTW — “Playing with My Food” is so a propos!

  14. @13 from babesmom: Good question. Aren’t there branches of the big Japanese department stores in Singapore? Would they stock something like the pre-cut nori, or someone else? Keep us posted if you find some locally!

  15. oh yeah, since they come in larger quantities [48 for the spice sprinklers and 12 for the pill pods] i split them with friends

  16. @16/17 from catastrophegirl: Those are handy little containers — the sprinkle ones remind me of little spice bottles. My only nagging doubt on the pill containers is if they’re made of food-safe plastic. The website says they’re made of LDPE which is okay, so presumably they’re fine for food too? Maybe I’m overthinking this. Anyway, thanks for the links!

  17. @18 Biggie, i tended to assume they are food safe since pills get ‘eaten’ too, but you raise a good question

  18. hi =] uhm.. are you also making eggrolls? ive seen it in some of you images posted at flickr.. and some korean tv shows.. im looking forward in making one.. i think it’s just pure egg.. not sure.. but its intact and colored yellow.. pls teach me how.. thx for the help.