This colorful and easy to make Kawaii Cat Rice Bowl will slowly take over your kitchen! A healthy meal perfect for meal prep. The kitty Onigiri - japanese rice balls - turn this rice bowl into the most adorable meal, making it extra kid friendly. However, young and old alike will love this nutritious and wholesome rice bowl!
The recipe in a nutshell
- Vegan (Eggless and dairy-free)
- Whole foods plant based
- Easy to make
- Kid friendly
- Perfect for meal prep
- Versatile and creative
This recipe is easily individualized and offers lots of space for you to get creative. For example: swap and change vegetables as you please! You’re not the biggest fan of cherry tomatoes? Switch it up with cucumber. You don’t want the lettuce in there? How about switching it up with kale or arugula?
What does "kawaii" mean?
Kawaii is a Japanese word that literally translates to acceptable for affection or possible to love” However, in Japan’s modern pop culture its meaning translates more to words like cute, adorable, sweet, and pretty. Its use varies in Japanese and can refer to babies, puppies, young people, clothing, and even senior citizens. Learn more about the meaning of kawaii here.
How to make cat shaped rice balls
I always wanted to be able to make super cute Bento Boxes, and rice ball kits make it so easy. For the cat shaped rice balls I used the “Omusubi Nyan” Rice Ball Kit.
The kit comes with a mold to form your rice balls and a tool to cut nori (dried seaweed) into whiskers, smiles, and other facial features! Press your short grain rice into the mold and it will turn it into a cat shaped ball in seconds.
Brush with soy sauce (or tamari) to give the rice ball cat-like fur markings. The Nori cut-outs just need to be pressed gently onto the rice balls. Overall it is really easy, and the results are so adorable!
There is many other rice ball kits out there. So if you don't have one yet, look around and purchase the ones you like best! Most Asian supermarkets have a section for gadgets and tableware, where you can usually find lots of rice ball kits as well.
This recipe will make enough for around 4 bowls, so if you’re not feeding a crowd, you’ll probably have some leftovers. Usually I use these leftovers for my meal prep, such as lunchboxes. I you don't need as much, simply reduce the recipe into half.
Store prepared bowls in an air tight lunchbox in the fridge for about two to three days. To keep the vegetables fresh, sprinkle some lemon juice over it, or use produce protector. Alternatively, pre-cook rice and cut vegetables freshly. Keep the rice separate from the vegetables and any sauces, such as soy sauce, in a separate smaller container, like a Mini Mason Jar. Pour sauces over the bowl right before eating.
How to freeze
This recipe is not freezer friendly.
More vegan meal ideas
Kawaii Cat Rice Bowl (vegan)
- "Omusubi Nyan" Rice Ball Kit; rice cooker, or medium sized cooking pot; 4 bowls or bento lunchboxes; food brush to decorate rice balls
- 3 cups Japanese short grain rice
- 3 cups water
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cane sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
Topping for your Bowl
- 4 dashes soy sauce, or tamari
- 2 small and ripe avocados, sliced
- 1 can of drained chickpeas (15 oz / 425g)
- 4 handfuls of cherry tomatoes one handful for each bowl
- 2 medium sized carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 head large lettuce, washed and coarsely chopped
- 4 handfuls handfuls of fresh parsley one handful for each bowl
- white sesame seeds for garnish
- dried seaweed and some more soy sauce for decorating the cat shaped rice balls
- 2 cooked sweet potatoes, cubed
- Rinse and wash rice until water comes out clear. If you have the time let rice soak in water for an hour.
- Cook rice in rice cooker. If you don't have a rice cooker, follow package instructions to cook on stovetop. Or use recipe instructions: place rice and fresh water in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring it just to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice rest covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
- While your rice is cooking, prepare rice seasoning. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Heat mixture while stirring just until the sugar dissolves (do not let it boil). Remove from heat and set aside until your rice is cooked.
- Once your rice is cooked, stir gently with a rice paddle or (wooden) spatula. Pour your vinegar mixture over the rice while you stir, trying to evenly season the rice. Alternatively spread your rice out over a cookie sheet and pour the vinegar mixture evenly over the rice. Turn gently with your rice paddle or wooden spatula.
- Evenly divide the rice into 5 parts. Place one part in each of your bowls (or lunchbox) and top with a bed of lettuce. The 5th part is for the cat rice balls.
- While the rice is still warm, but not hot, press a couple tablespoons into the cat shaped rice ball mold. Following the instructions of the rice ball kit it will turn into a cat shaped ball in seconds. To keep rice from sticking to your hands lightly water them. Using a food brush give the rice balls cat-like fur markings with some soy sauce. Use the seaweed cutter of the kit to cut out face features like eyes, whiskers and ears. Gently press those onto the rice balls to create the faces. A pair of food tweezers can help you with that. Set shaped rice balls onto parchment to cool down and stick together even more.
- Divide all vegetables evenly onto the bowls. Once assembled, top each bowl with cat shaped rice ball to make your bowl kawaii. Drizzle with soy sauce or other sauces shortly before eating.
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