Today I’m sharing a video tutorial for making super cute baby penguins from rice, and a fun penguin themed muffin tin meal too, which includes some rice penguins of course!
As I’ve been writing a blog about bento style lunches for over three years now, I think it really is time I attempt 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 had never quite got around to it, so having had ‘make an attempt at sushi’ on my New Year’s resolution list at the beginning of this year I was determined to give it a good go before the end of this year!
I started with some cute rice pandas, which I shared here on the blog last month, and following on from that I also wanted to try out my penguin rice mould set which works in a very similar way. I also spent a happy afternoon with a friend this past weekend making our first attempts at making our own traditional rolled sushi, we were so proud of our efforts, our attempts actually worked and the sushi was delicious, though I forgot to bring my camera with me (bad blogger!).
Going back to the rice penguins, these are what is know as onigiri, or rice balls, and they make an easy alternative to sushi. They are usually put together with some kind of filling, before being compressed and shaped, but I made them with plain rice to keep it easy. Rice balls can be shaped simply in the hand, but the 3D baby penguin rice mould set (now also available in the Eats Amazing Shop!) made it very easy to turn my rice balls into super cute baby penguins!
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 penguins
- 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 penguin 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 penguin shaped block of rice.
Next, use the first punch plate to cut out the back piece from nori (dried seaweed sheet). Place the nori shape onto the back of the rice penguin (it should stick nicely by itself) following the shape on the body from the tip of the tail to the top of the head and bending the sides around to enclose the back of the penguin. Use the second punch to cut out the wings, feet, beak and eye shapes and stick them into place to complete the penguin. use a dab of water if necessary to help stick them in place.
Serve and enjoy!
I’ve made a video with instructions for using the penguin 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 do subscribe to the Eats Amazing YouTube channel while you’re there for lots more fun food ideas and tutorials!
Once I’d made the rice penguins I had to test them out on my children, of course! Small Baby was the happy recipient of my first ever rice penguins, which I presented to him in a simple penguin themed muffin tin meal. Small Child couldn’t wait to try them either, so I made a set for him too!
As well as the rice penguins (which I popped into a couple of bright blue silicone cups), I also gave him some cherry tomatoes, chopped into halves and decorated with a penguin bento pick, a mini Babybel cheese, which I decorated with tiny fish cut from the wax with a mini bento cutter and popped into a star shaped silicone cup, blueberries and some little fish which I cut from raw carrot using the same fish shaped mini bento cutter.
As with the rice pandas, two year old Small Baby absolutely loved his penguin muffin tin meal!
Items used to make this meal: