Welcome February. I am finding less energy to do cute Bento and trying to keep it simple this year. My daughter seems to socialize more now and busy chatting away during her lunch time at school, sometimes only finishing half of the content of the Bento. My only choice is to use a smaller size lunch box for her and trying to squeeze in everything neatly. Small and mini cookie cutters together with cute food picks can brighten up a usual lunch.
Lotus Root is crunchy and fun to eat. Here I parboiled them for about 5 mins to soften their texture, and drained and then mixed them with a bit of light soy sauce and sesame seed oil. They added shape and a nice color to the overall combination of colors inside the bento Box.
There are more choices of mushroom in my local grocery store now and they stock up on these little ones, which are usually available only at Asian stores. This one was referred to as Beech mushroom or 'Bunashimeji' in Japanese and only needed to be sauteed in very little oil for about 5 mins to soften and bring out the semi firm and crunchy texture. They look pretty in a cluster. For the mini pork patties, I used some minced pork, mixed and stirred it with seasonings and cornflour and shaped into flat disks. Pan fried for about 7 to 10 mins, turning sides and they fit in with the rests of the mini baby tomatoes, mushroom, cucumber and cut orange quarters from wedges.