Bentoing Adventures or Why Ham Rolls Irk Me

I have a new weekly ritual, wake up and start bentoing. During the day make a list, on one of our dry erase boards, of things I want to make for future bentos. From the beginning of bentoing, something I have wanted to make is ham rolls. Nothing overly interesting-ham, cream cheese, and something mixed in with the cream cheese or other filling. In fact, when I looked at the instructions, my first thought was “looks like sushi without all of the rice work; how hard can that be?”

Ham Roll 2Harder than you would think and for nothing more than a lack of quality ham. If sushi lives and dies on the quality of the rice, and it does. Then a ham roll lives and dies on the quality of the ham. However, with the abundance (overabundance?) of sliced ham available in local big box/supermarkets how hard should it be for me to find ham to use? The answer should be, not hard at all, in fact really easy.

Four ham roll attempts later and I am thinking about purchasing some pigs, a smoker, and a deli slicer. Two of the major brands of sliced ham made more work than necessary. Brand A, has round sheets that are thick enough, but small. Thus to make a ham roll I had to learn how to “weave” or layer the small round sheets together to get a single layer. Spread on cream cheese mix (typically cooked garlic and colored bell peppers), lay my middle on top of the cream cheese (typically carrot and green bean), and roll. Watch as some of the sheets separated necessitating a second layer of ham weave, resulting in a roll twice the size intended with a mouth sensation of eating something edible made out of rubber.

Brand B, has medium sized square sheets. These were large enough that two sheets slightly overlapped made one roll. However, every single sheet in the package had holes in the middle (it looked like the ham was thin or worn through if that makes sense). Thus, upon rolling filling oozed out of the holes or tore before rolling, which necessitated a second layer of ham, only now I had to use more ham because I had to account for the holes in the center. UGH!

Sick of brand ham, after all if the major brands cannot slice ham in a manor suited to making ham rolls a deli should. Except there is no deli here. There is a deli counter and the woman behind the counter understood what I wanted and went so far to suggest a flavored ham that she uses in her own rolls. Unlike the ceviche incident, I found a person who knew what I was making and even indicated that she had made them herself. Which explains why I did not check the ham she sliced and tossed into the bag.

Perhaps someone else slices her ham. I know she will not be slicing mine. The honey flavor matches well with my cream cheese mix. Alas, out of a pound of ham, 1/2 was half-sheets or torn sheets. The remaining 1/2 worked well, except that it had a tendency to tear. At least I knew what to do with that. 🙂

(photo is of my latest round of ham rolls and tamagoyaki)

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