This was too irresistible not to translate – I have done something different though. I have not translated the steps word for word, but instead combined her ideas with helpful hints on how to do this on your own. This is probably a little more effective for those of us who have never made a charaben before to try! She also has a post on her own blog with the recipe. She also has a post about the event itself, but no photos of Naoko . The photos on the ANIMAX page basically show daughters working with their mothers to assemble the bentos. I have included the Japanese names of as many of the ingredients as I could.
Before I go on though, here’s the copyright warning. All Images Below are property of Kaerenmama, Foodies TV, and ANIMAX. These are solely being used for non-profit purposes, only to educate English readers about how to make these lunches!
Ingredients and Materials:
(ご飯) Go Giri (Cooked Rice – Usagi’s head will be an Onigiri or rice ball). (There is a recipe here on how to make the rice ball/onigiri, but you can add whichever filling you want. Kaerenmama uses Tarako)
(たらこ) Tarako – called “Cod Roe” in Japan, but it is really Alaskan Pollock roe (fish eggs). Roe can be used as a filling raw in Japanese cuisine, or if you want you can add a little soy sauce to it (but use a low sodium soy sauce because Roe is very salty).
(カニかま) Kani Kama (Crab Sticks) (Note: for a vegetarian or no seafood version, you could probably get away with steamed carrot sticks, just make sure that they are not very thick)
(薄焼き卵を)Usuyaki Tamago (Egg Sheets) (Sailordees’ Note – this is really easy to make, whip up an egg, and then put a very thin layer in the pan and be very carefully not to burn! Else, there’s a great recipe for how to make it here.)
(スライスチーズ) Suraisu Chizu (Cheese Slice) (No idea what kind she is using in the photos, up to you entirely, but choose something that is a lighter color like swiss or gouda)
(海苔)Nori (seaweed sheets) (These are usually located in your grocer’s deli section or near the Asian food section)
(丸い型抜きなど) Marui Katanuki Kinado (Literally, something that can punch out a round shape, in this case, Karenmama suggests a Pop Bottle Cap, or you can use a round mini-cookie cutter)
Cupcake/Muffin Baking Cups (they have silicone ones, but you could probably get away with using 3-4 stacked together to hold the rice, or better yet see if you can find the foil kind).
Clean Tweezers (or chopsticks if you don’t have dexterity issues like I do and want to do things properly :p) for proper setting
(ストロー) Sutoro (Drinking Straw) You will need straws of at least 3 different sizes (I suggest getting a big slurpee/bubble tea straw, a regular straw, and a small one either from a bar or from a juice box, but make sure one end is slanted and the other is not)
(包丁) Houchou (Big Chef Knife) (to cut off the edges of the egg sheet that might be too thin).
(ハサミ) Hasami (Scissors – make sure they are clean!) to cut the Nori
Step 1: Form your rice into a ball (onigiri) and use the plastic wrap to help set it properly. Squish and shape it between the palms of your hands until you have a ball that is big enough to fit in the baking cup. If you decide to use Tarako, Kaerenmama suggests to grill it to your liking for this recipe. Form a deep dent in the rice ball, and put some of the roe inside using a spoon. Then squish and shape the rice between the palms of your hand such that the rest of the rice completely covers the filling and you have a perfectly shaped rice ball! The plastic wrap will help to keep it in shape, and also to store it for later.
Step 2: Using the stencil found here (we have posted it below), and the pop bottle cap, cut out two circles for her odangoes, her ponytails, bangs, and tiara out of the egg sheet (usuyaki tamogo). Note: in one of the videos, she also uses the bottle cap to make moon shapes (pictured to the right, sorry about the terrible image quality). Cut out a circle with the bottle cap, and use your tweezers/chopsticks to pop out the circle. Then cut out another circle in that circle about a third of the way through the shape. YOU HAS A MOON!
Step 3: Onto the crab or carrot sticks! Using your straws, use your biggest to make Usagi’s red hair gems, your smallest to make her tiara jewel (the end that is not slanted), and the slanted end of the smallest one to make her mouth.
Step 4: White cheese slice of some sort. Could be swiss, could be aged cheddar, the fan can decide. Using all three of your straw sizes and the straight ends only, cut out two shapes for each size (these will make her eyes).
Step 5: Cut out two small circles that will fit just inside your biggest cheese circle with the scissors from the nori. Kaerenmama suggests folding the sheet in half and then cutting out your circles so they are both the same size.
Step 6 + 7:Using your hands, first tuck in the ponytails behind the rice ball on one side, and then the odangoes overtop. Add Sailor Moon’s red hair accessories, then place down her tiara, jewel, and finally, the bangs. I suppose you could do the mouth now (with clean tweezers or chopsticks).
Step 8: The eyes are a little tricky and you will need to use tweezers – first, down goes your biggest cheese rounds, then the nori circles overtop. She went a step further later and suggested to cut out eyelashes, but this is completely up to you. Then comes your 2nd biggest cheese round, centered on the nori, and the tiniest goes to the bottom side of the round – just for that extra glare! If you have not set in her mouth, now is the time!
Step 9: You’re done! Fill your bento with whatever else you would like to – to create other shapes, you can actually go to the craft store and find single hole punches in different shapes. You can use these to cut them out of thin sheets of nori, vegetables, cheeses, colored tofu slices, or meats! Be creative! Hers showed a mini salad with flowers made from (I think) thin ham or salami ribbons. Mini cookie cutters also work well too. Another variation she shows has “Usa” over top and fried chicken wings, mushrooms, potatoes, and steamed veggies. She uses small pieces of bamboo skewers (you could probably get away with toothpicks) to hold everything in place. Here again, are the images we posted before so you can eyeball your way around, and the variation.
You can probably make the whole Sailor Moon by cutting out shapes from the meat and nori, and using very thin ribbons of the egg sheet or cheese for stripes. And, if you want to make Luna, I am assuming that her rice just has some diluted purple food coloring (blue + red) and has mini triangular rice balls for ears. I’m tempted to try a variation of Sailor Moon using eggs, toast, and omelet veggies for breakfast. If and when I have the time to attempt this I actually do succeed, I will post pictures . Fans you are also welcome to send in your Sailor Moon Charaben experiments and they will be featured on our site!