Cut the chikuwa in half lengthwise. Make 2 long cuts from the back or side, whichever you prefer, as shown.
Braid the chikuwa. As you braid them, they will curl up.
Secure temporarily with a toothpick, so that the braided ends are hidden under the other end.
The one on the left is one that was braided with the back-side up, and the one on the right was braided with the front-side up.
Make 1 to 1.5 cm cuts in the 1/4 slice of ham, and roll up with a piece of cheese.
Stuff the ham-flower in the braided chikuwa hole. Cut any excess from the back of the ham-flower. Remove the toothpick and secure the whole thing with a bento pick to finish.
I used these leaf-shaped picks to keep my flowers in place.
Variation: I used a crab stick to fill the hole. I shredded a bit of it after fitting it into my lunchbox.
Story Behind this Recipe
When I was thinking of things to make for bentos, I thought of braided bread, and tried making something similar with chikuwa fish sticks. Once it was braided it curled up with a hole in the middle, which I stuffed with a ham flower. (Is it human psychology to want to fill up holes.) Personally, I quite like it
If you make the braid while evening out the sides, it will turn out very neatly. To start with, try securing the braid with toothpicks. When you get used to making these you can just secure with a bento pick.