I can’t tell you how excited my little girl was about this lunch. A peach, her favorite vegetables (cucumber with the seeds scraped out and carrot sticks), fun rice shapes, and fried shrimp? A big lunch win. Add a little plastic soy sauce fish to send the whole thing over the top.
The veggies and fruit take almost no time to pack. Just cut up whatever leftover produce you have, throw in a cute bento food pick, and you’re done!
If you set your rice cooker the night before and wake up to hot, cooked rice, making the rice shapes takes about 3 minutes. I used a panda mold (which works surprisingly well but takes a couple of minutes), as well as an easier to use triple rice ball mold with nori punches for the faces. I used nori seaweed for the decorations; it’s the seaweed used in sushi and should be available at a well-stocked grocery store.
Just be sure to use short grain sushi rice so it sticks together and is easy for little ones to eat quickly – regular long grain rice won’t do this magic.
The shrimp is a little bit more time consuming, but it’s a fun treat. If you’re dealing with frozen shrimp, I like to thaw and peel it the night before to make things faster in the morning.
Total Time: about 10 minutes
a fun lunch for kids and grown-ups alike!
Short grain sushi rice*
Fruit and vegetables
handful of panko breadcrumbs
olive oil for pan frying
- The night before, set up your rice cooker on delay so you wake up to hot, cooked rice that's ready to go. Go ahead and thaw and peel the shrimp, too.
- The next morning, warm a small skillet with oil to cover the bottom.
- If you want the shrimp to lay flat and appear bigger, lightly cut the inside (opposite the vein) so you're able to lay the shrimp flat. I did not do this because I wanted to see how quickly I could make the shrimp. Then whisk an egg in a bowl and dip the shrimp in the egg. Dredge the shrimp in a handful of panko bread crumbs. Test the oil with a few breadcrumbs - they should immediately bubble around in the oil. Sauté the shrimp until the outside is golden brown; flip and repeat.
- While the shrimp cooks, shape your rice (see directions above if you want to try using a plastic baggie).
- Let the shrimp and rice cool slightly before closing the lid to your lunch box. Toss in the fruit and veggies, and enjoy!
*Conventional long grain rice will NOT work if you want to shape it. Short grain brown rice doesn't work as well, either. Look for sushi grade or short grain white rice.
**I tripled this recipe so I wouldn't waste an egg on just one person's lunch. I still had a little bit of leftover egg after doing 9 shrimp.
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