It wouldn’t be a Halloween party without a carved pumpkin! Luckily, these mini jack o’lanterns look just like the real deal, but take a fraction of the time to make with some rice and smoked salmon. Perfect for a themed bento box!
1 cup Japanese sushi rice
¼ cup rice vinegar
2½ tbsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
8 slices smoked salmon
nori sheet, for decoration
Place the rice in a large bowl. Cover with water. Use your hands to stir and rub the rice in the water. Drain. Complete this process 6 more times or until the water runs (nearly) clear and is no longer “milky”. Some sushi chefs may do this up to 9 times. Drain well.
Transfer the rice to a medium saucepan. Cover with 1½ cups of water (or use the amount specified by your sushi rice packet).
Place the saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, still covered, for 10 minutes to allow the steam to continue to cook the rice.
Meanwhile, place the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside until required.
Transfer the rice to a large shallow bowl or tray (traditionally a low-sided wooden bowl known as a sushi-oke or hangiri is used). Drizzle over the vinegar mixture. Use a rice paddle (shamozi) or spatula to fold the vinegar into the rice using a cutting action at an angle, breaking up any clumps and ensuring the vinegar mixture coats every grain of rice. Continue until the rice is at room temperature.
Wet your hands, then take a small amount of rice and roll it into a golf-ball-sized ball. Wrap in a piece of smoked salmon – it helps to use plastic wrap to get a really nice cover and shape out of it (see the video for instructions). Remove plastic wrap and transfer lantern to a serving plate or bento box.
Using a pair of scissors, cut out eye and mouth shapes from a sheet of nori to decorate your mini Jack O’Lanterns.