Today I’m sharing a video tutorial for making super cute baby pandas from rice, and a fun panda themed muffin tin meal too, which includes some rice pandas of course!
As I’ve been writing a blog about bento style lunches for over three years now, I thought it was high time I attempted to make some more traditional Japanese style food to pack in my bento boxes occasionally! The tradition of bento boxes originally came from Japan, but as bento simply means ‘a meal in a box’, we in the west have seized on the idea as inspiration for a new way of packing our own favourite lunch box foods in an eco friendly and creative way, so we pack anything from sandwiches to pasta in our own bento boxes. I’ve long admired the gorgeous and creative Japanese style bento though, and I’ve been wanting to try making sushi for the last few years (my boys love sushi but I’ve only ever bought it ready made). I have never quite got around to it, so I’m determined to give it a good go before the end of this year!
I started my first attempt with an easy alternative to sushi – onigiri, or rice balls. These are usually put together with some kind of filling, before being compressed and shaped, but I started with plain rice to keep it easy. I couldn’t resist having fun with it though, so I used my new 3D baby panda rice mould set (now also available in the Eats Amazing Shop!) to turn my rice balls into baby pandas!
I would like to note that I am not in any way an expert on Japanese food, I’m improvising somewhat so my methods and ingredients might not be entirely traditional – but if it looks and tastes good, I’m happy!
How to make rice pandas
- Sushi or sticky rice
- nori sheet (dried seaweed)
Cook the rice according to packet instructions. Once the rice is ready, leave to cool then stir through seasonings of your choice (I added a little sushi vinegar to mine).
Take the panda mould and fill with rice, pressing it in with the back of the spoon and adding more rice as necessary. Place the top piece of the mould onto the rice and press it down to shape it, then remove the mould pieces. You should be left with a panda shaped block of rice.
Next, use the punch plates to cut out the ears, face and legs from nori (dried seaweed sheet). Place the nori shapes onto the rice panda (they stick nicely by themselves) following the shapes on the body and you’re done!
I made a video with instructions for using the panda rice mould set which you can see below. If the video doesn’t load for any reason, click here to view it in YouTube, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Eats Amazing YouTube channel while you’re there, for lots more fun food videos!
Once I’d made the rice pandas, I had to test them out on one of my children, of course! Small Baby was the happy recipient of my first ever rice pandas, which I presented to him in a panda themed muffin tin meal.
As well as the rice pandas (which I popped into a couple of bright silicone cups), I also gave him a chunk of cucumber cut in a zig zag pattern, sticks of raw baby sweetcorn, chopped grapes and blueberries and some cheddar cheese, which I cut into small cubes. I also added a couple of panda bento picks and leaf shaped silicone dividers to decorate.
Two year old Small Baby absolutely loved his panda muffin tin meal, though it took a little bit of persuasion to convince him to eat the rice pandas – I think they were too cute for him, he even kissed one of them! Once he’d bitten an ear off one of them though there was no holding him back and he munched the lot!
Items used to make this meal: