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Posted on Mar 3, 2008 in Bento, Dumplings or Buns, Fish or Seafood, Food Jar, For Kids, Meat, Soup or Stew | 16 comments

Curry gyoza bento lunches

Curry gyoza bento lunches

Gyoza potstickers are a handy finger food for kids, delivering protein and veggies in a neat little package. I like to keep a bag on hand in the freezer for mornings when I don’t have the time or imagination to make something more elaborate. Store-bought or homemade, these flavorful dumplings are a lunchtime favorite even at room temperature.

Curry gyoza bento lunch for preschooler

Curry gyoza tutorial

Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Pan-fried curry gyoza (details and tutorial here, spinach wrappers filled with leftover Japanese curry), roasted asparagus (recipe here), blueberries, cherry tomatoes and cheese cubes.

Morning prep time: 15 minutes, using leftover roasted asparagus from dinner. In the morning I actually made the three gyoza fresh using leftover curry, but you can freeze the assembled curry gyoza and have them ready to cook on time-pressed mornings. (Read on for lunch details and an additional preschooler lunch…)

Cars bento box for child

Packing: After letting the gyoza cool off on a little cooling rack, I packed them in a 360ml Disney Cars bento box with one subcontainer removed for more space. I’d served whole spears of asparagus for dinner the night before, but cut them into smaller pieces to fit into the bento box and to make them easier for my three-year-old to manage. No dipping sauce was necessary for the curry gyoza as the filling was flavorful enough already.

Verdict: Relatively successful. Bug polished off the curry gyoza, the cheese and some of the asparagus and blueberries. After school he ate everything except the cherry tomatoes, which he tried but rejected. (Okay, okay, out-of-season tomatoes aren’t that lovely. Bug demolishes local in-season tomatoes — guess he’s got good taste!) He said he ran out of time to eat at preschool, but this doesn’t make so much sense to me; he may have gotten distracted by his friends at lunchtime. 360ml is a manageable amount for a three-year-old according to the bento box size guidelines.

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Roasted pepper and tomato soup bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Roasted bell pepper and tomato soup, pork gyoza potsticker, shrimp and chive dumplings with dipping sauce, and mini pudding cup (shelf-stable Kiku Petit Pudding).

Morning prep time: 5 minutes, using ready-made soup from Costco, and leftover dim sum from a local take-out place (Good Luck Dim Sum on Clement St. in San Francisco). In the morning I preheated the thermal food jar with hot tap water while I microwaved the soup and packed the side dish containers. Very quick lunch as Bug specially requested the soup and dim sum.

Product: I tried out Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (Pacific Natural Foods Organic) that I picked up in a six-pack carton from Costco, mostly to have on hand for when my husband gets a cold and wants tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches as comfort food. Oh man, was this ever good — I’m never looking at Campbell’s again! The roasted bell pepper adds a nuanced flavor that appealed to the adults and my three-year-old. It wasn’t overpowering at all, very balanced flavor and nice mouthfeel. I like that I can cap the opened carton and store it in the refrigerator if we don’t go through an entire carton at once. Definitely a recommend.

Reusable ice blanket for packed lunchesPacking: Dipping sauce for the dumplings went into a small sauce container from Daiso (Japanese discount store); I filled some extras at the same time to have pre-filled sauce containers on hand for speed. I packed the warm soup in the thermal jar portion of Bug’s 560ml insulated bento set, and threw a little ice pack cut from a flexible ice blanket into the insulated bag for maximum food safety. The thermal bento set is handy in that the lid of the thermos lifts off instead of unscrewing, so it’s easy for little hands to open. Although similar sets sell here and here for about US$43 (ouch), you can duplicate this setup on the cheap by using a thermal food jar and separate bento box packed in an insulated lunch bag to take both hot and cold foods at the same time. I often leave out one of the 160ml side dish containers and pack an oshibori damp hand towel in that space instead.

Bay Area Shopping: I picked up the insulated bento set for $20 at Ichiban Kan in San Francisco’s Japantown a while back, but the last time I checked they were out of stock — try behind the counter at Kamei instead for the nicer $33 Zojirushi models with nesting containers. For store details, see my San Francisco Bay Area shopping guide for bento gear (no commercial affiliations).

Verdict: A little big, but good. Bug ate half of the soup, the potsticker, and one of the chive dumplings at preschool. Thumbs down on the out-of-season tomatoes, which I had stubbornly packed as they were a handy gap filler to stabilize the lunch in transit. After school Bug ate the remaining soup and the body of the last dumpling, leaving the thicker dumpling seam (he’s sensitive to food textures).

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  1. Okay, maybe you, my lunchtime food guru, will be able to help me. I, too, have purchased potstickers as a quick lunch. But I have never ever successfully made them! If I put them in the microwave, they’re hard and soft and yucky. If I put them in a pan to fry them, they stick to the bottom (and it takes longer than I’d like). When I used my steamer, they also wound up flat and soggy. Any tips? I’ve tried three or four different brands.

  2. Oh man! You find the most awesome things at your costco! I manage only to find a small amount of the products you feature but next time my husband and I go on one of our Costco adventures I’ll look for that soup!

  3. Thank you for putting some fun in lunch-packing and lunch-eating! My husband feared that our daughter would be teased by the other 6th graders for her new and improved lunches this year. Quite the contrary: she tells us the attention from the other kids makes her feel special and they always ask how I make things (like shaped eggs). Smiles from us!

    Question: Where can we get Lizano sauce other than Amazon? We originally brought some back from Costa Rica, but it is all gone. Is there a supermarket in Nor. Cal. that carries it?

    Thanks,
    Tory

  4. @1 from karmamama: For your gyoza pan-frying problem, try following the cooking instructions I wrote up in the curry gyoza tutorial, making sure to use a nonstick pan with a little oil in the pan. If that doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll think about it some more.

  5. @2 from Katie: I think the soup is new to Costco; I’d never seen it there before. Tasty!

  6. Hey! Guess what I had for dinner last night? That roasted red pepper and tomato soup, plus a grilled cheese sandwich. My husband made it for me, because I’m sick.

  7. @7 from LaVidaMD: Sorry to hear that you’re under the weather, LaVidaMD! How funny that you had the same thing I wrote about — I guess we all retreat to the comfort food of our youth when we’re sick. Hope you feel better soon.

  8. To the NYC-area people who don’t have a car (and therefore no access to our area Costcos, or might have limited storage space for a 6 pack… whatever the case) – Trader Joe’s sells a similar soup in a carton, roasted red pepper and tomato soup for $2~. While I haven’t yet tried it, I see it at the store and notice it’s a popular sell- they have other kinds in the carton as well, all around the same price, include carrot ginger, which may be organic… Just a heads up to anyone who’s interested in the same soup which may or may not be as good :)

  9. @9 from Yvo: Thanks for the Trader Joe’s soup tip, Yvo!

  10. Hi, Biggie.
    I used to lived in China for 1 year. depend on the district, most of Chinese prefer “dumpling” to “fry-Gyoza”. (I love both but making dumplings is much easier than stikky fry gyoza.) anyway, my children will love a cury gyoza. I will try it. Thanks,

  11. I buy that soup at our Kroger and it’s wonderful – it’s our favorite soup!

  12. Those dumplings look sooooo good!!! I was hoping to read that you bought them somewhere lols It’s great that you make everything yourself though, so you know what’s in it! I’m just sad that I cant have any unless I make them -=X and I’m too lazy for that lols -=D

  13. @11 from hewei: Thanks for the China insight, hewei! I like steamed dumplings when the filling is a little more firm in texture, like pork or shrimp. Anyway, I hope your kids enjoy the curry gyoza — mine did!

  14. @12 from Mary: I’m a new convert — I like the very faint sweetness of the roasted peppers. Yum! (but not Yum-O…)

  15. Hi,

    I love those gren gyoza wrappers! They look amazing! A little bit like Polish pierogi… but green :)

    I’m hosting Wholesome Lunchbox event again and would love to see your entry.
    Closing date is 15th of each month, round ups will be posted on 16-17th of each month.
    To learn more, please read this post:
    http://www.coffeeandvanilla.com/?p=1429

    Enjoy your day,
    Margot

  16. @17 from Coffee and Vanilla: Thanks for the heads up about your Wholesome Lunchbox event, Margot!