C jr has long been a fan of Eat Your Kimchi, featuring the lovely and wonderful Martina and Simon. One of their many fantastic videos chronicling their lives in Korea includes attempting a Popin' Cookin' (yes, that's spelled correctly, which makes me chuckle since it seems Papal), a uniquely Japanese DIY candy/food/art project/hilarious endeavor.
So imagine my excitement when I discovered some of these at our local Korean market. I may have squealed in the store. This was C jr's reaction of delight – and be sure to check out C jr's other reactions in the video at the end of the post!
Undeterred by the Japanese instructions and delicate mechanics, C Jr dove right in and made a complete Japanese meal that tasted (oddly) of citrus and bubblegum.
See! Top left! Popin' Cookin'! Okay, so based on the box, what lies inside are the makings of onigiri, or rice balls, a roll of egg, broccoli, a meatball, pasta, and what we think is squid.
C jr cuts the wrapper so it will lie flat as a working surface.
Inside the box: plastic tray with various molds; packets of colored candy sugar; foil wrapper with templates; tiny fork for stirring/prying
The packets of candy sugar are color-coded, another helpful design choice.
"Reading" the directions, which look like this:
Thank god for the helpful illustrations. And, really, a testament to Japanese design that based on the illustrations alone, a 14-year-old was able to decipher how to put this thing together.
Let the Cookin' begin! C jr pours in the powders for the broccoli and the egg. Each little mold is shaped specifically for the "food" you then "pop" out.
Just add water! The corner of the plastic tray is meant to be cut off and used as a measuring cup for water. Brilliant.
C jr stressed the importance of stirring and stirring well. Thank you, Martina and Simon, for this very helpful tip!
While the broccoli, squid and egg set in their respective molds, C jr added water to the "rice" and began shaping the onigiri.
Using the template on the package to size the head and ears of the panda onigiri.
With all the rice balls formed, C jr then poured the "seaweed" into the more shallow compartments. The deeper one is for rolling the panda ears around in the black sugar. Since the rice balls will be pressed into the shallow molds, stamping them, C jr used a Q-tip to clean up around the face shapes.
Pressing an onigiri into the shallow mold and voila – seaweed applied!
Penultimate cooking of the "Meatball."
The final mixing produces the "pasta," which is put into a small piping bag.
With all the foods ready, C jr cuts out the box that will be used to display everything. The box is folded and taped together.
The beauty is in the small details – like this tiny topper for the meatball toothpick.
After cutting a corner off the bag, C jr carefully pipes the "pasta" into the box.
And continues to add the various foods, using the box for reference.
Final adjustments and....
TA DA! The smallest, most taste-deceptive meal, ever!
Let the feasting begin! C jr looks somewhat dubious about the meatball...
Which tastes precisely not like a meatball.
Sharing the onigiri, of which I took a tiny, tiny bite.
C jr ate the entire Popin' Cookin' thing.
Check out the video for C jr's reaction and final thoughts: