Words & Photos by Bea Faicol
The month of June serves as the year’s halfway mark, but for kids, it’s only the beginning of a new school year. To parents, that means entrusting your little one to a large institution where you’re not quite sure if they’re learning properly, making the right friends, or eating right.
While the first two are difficult to monitor unless you’ve sent out a special drone, the last aim is achievable. Better than the same ol’ ulam you’ve been preparing them, the modern lunchbox spurs appetite when it’s a little outside of the box. We propose getting creative with an Oekakiben: a healthy Japanese-style meal where imagination arises from food shaped like cutesy characters. When you let your kids play with their food like this, even veggies take on a whole new level of fun and flavor.
For a Panda Oekakiben, here’s all you need:
- Scrambled eggs
- Sausage or hotdog
- Nori or Seaweed wrapper
To make the panda:
- Mold your rice into a ball and cover with cling wrap. This will serve as the body of the panda so make sure you compress the rice ball tightly so that it won’t fall apart once you remove the cling wrap.
- With scissors, cut the seaweed wrapper into circles and oblongs to make their eyes, nose, ears, legs, and tail.
- To assemble the panda, stick the seaweed wrapper onto the rice ball as fit. Although we used our hands for this, using chopsticks can lead to easier application.
Assembling the Panda Oekakiben:
- The base of the Panda Oekakiben is the lettuce. Drizzle this lightly with dressing and place within Tupperware.
- Slice scrambled egg into strips and roll as you would a piece of paper. For it to remain in that shape, you can keep in place with toothpicks by pricking the middle.
- Lastly, place the panda rice balls in the Tupperware and add the cooked sausage or hotdog.
Pro tip: You can substitute or add fruits, fish, pork, or your kids’ favorite fillings! Now turn that lunch box into a launch pad for creativity.