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Your Japanese Bento At Home 3: Wanko

We're back with a third article about Japanese cookings, which means a handful of fresh hints and tips for your next bento. This week's post'll be slightly shorter than usual,  but i'm pretty sure that you'll love this cute character.  U^ェ^U

To begin with, i'd like to explain you what means Wanko. Dogs in Japan bark in their own special way, so it's not woof woof there but more like "wan wan" (Japanese animal onomatopoeia is actually a very interesting subject by itself. I may write about it later)

Then someone back in the days decided to affectionally call his/her dog wanko and it has became the Japanese word for "Doggy". Japanese people loves their pets - the more kawai they look, the best it is - and really take good care of them. There are many pet salons available everywhere, and they truly can transform your dog into a fashionable mate(see picture below).

Dog's Hard life in Japan Photo par Seiji/CC 

Yes, that much. ( ´ ▽ ` )ノ But let's get back to our subject; i really wanted to show you this new character cooked by Akinoichigo (we've got 2 more articles about this wonderful bento expert here). Now, i also selected this very recipe because of its ease to make and the easy-to-find ingredients it requires. I don't think you can find a simpler recipe to make such a cute kyaraben (character bento). 

Step by step guide 

First, you'll need to have a perfectly round onigiri ready beforehand. I said perfectly but in fact it may be the hardest part of this recipe, and actually it's not that terrible if you can't exactly reproduce this circle. Here are some tips to help you throughout the process though: you'll need 80 g of glutinous rice (works best if Japanese) and wrapping film to let you form your onigiri while it's still hot. Put your rice in it, roll it up between your hands, oh and don't forget to add a bit of salt with.

Akinoichigo suggestion : Crab, Potato Salada, Broccoli, Cherry Tomato

Now it's time to pack your other ingredients (see picture above) and add your mastercraft onigiri on top of it.

What you need to make a wanko:

  • One sausage 
  • Your Onigiri
  • Pastry (to fix the parts together)
  • Some Nori (This Japanese Seaweed is now easy to find at your local/online asian grovery)


Cook the sausage and slice it diagonally at one third. Then cut the two parts again but lenghtwise this time. You should get four parts like this.

The two little one'll let you model wanko's snout. Use the pastry to fix them firmly on the onigiri.

Next step is a bit tricker and'll need your nimble fingers to do it right. We'll cut wanko face details out of the nori sheet. You can use a cutter, or even better, a nori punch for this. Once you're done with it, use mayonnaise to stick them on the onigiri. (pastry and mayonnaise are often use as adhesive for bento details, so please keep this information at the back of your mind).

The sausage leftover can now be used to add ears on our character. Again, pastry is super useful here. If you want to go a step further, you can even add two cut of sausage as cute pink cheekbone.

Bonus You can of course add a lot of variations and nuances to it by simply changing the shapes and elements positioning to re-create a cat, a bear, a rabbit or any characters you like.

Et voilà, we've completed our cute wanko already! We can't wait to see the great bentos you're going to cook with all these japanese cooking tips! :)

* Side Note Rice brown color is coming from a soup base called mentsuyu that you can sometime find at asian grocery store or on the net (the japanese word for it is めんつゆ). You'll also be able to get the same hue by dying your rice with soy sauce (sojyu). Don't put to much of it though, as it would make the onigiri really hard to shape. And finally there is also that simpler option to use brown rice to start with. (^^)

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Next article Your Japanese Bento at Home 2 : Little Red Riding Hood (For Beginner)

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