Today, I am going introduce you to the Japanese bento lunch box.
Thank you for answering the survey in my community. As a result for that, I am planning to make videos in series.
Let me start with the basics of Bento lunch box.
Here is my 3 BASIC BENTO RULES
No.1 : Safe to eat
Keep your hands, cookware and bento box clean.
As I am a board member of food sanitation hygiene association of our city, I want to highlight on the cleanliness of the kitchen.
No.2 : Taste good
Of course it must be delicious! Bento is supposed to be eaten after 5 to 6 hours after it was made. Which means we have to plan the food keep its taste.
No.3 : Pack well-balanced food in nutrition
You don’t have to be too strict about the balance, however, try to cook variety of ingredients.
What I mean by that? Let’s look into the structure of bento.
The basic structure of Bento
Roughly, 50% of the amount filled with rice, the rest of the space will filled with “Okazu” which means main dish and side dish, consists of protein, veggie and fat. Japanese mom cook variety of Okazu from scratch.
Just for your information, the amount of the rice per a meal is like this. You have to adjust to intensity of daily activity.
If a person whose daily activity is high, like my son doing baseball every day after school, should eat more carb.. In his case, twice as much rice.(=400g)
Speaking of rice, I add Umeboshi when I cook rice while summer time. The citric acid in Umeboshi is believed to act as an antibacterial. And it actually works! We are experiencing “Disaster level” heat now. We have to be more careful than usual year. Alternatively, you can bring ice pack with Bento. But the chilled banto is not good as you can imagine.
Now, let’s talk about “Okazu”.
The Okazu, main dish and side dishes, should be cooked well and seasoned well. The excess moisture should be evaporated at the same time. Basically, I don’t pack fresh veggie, because I don’t want my bento soggy.
The main Okazu is made from protein like meat and eggs, the side Okazu is made from vegetables.
The key to make successful bento is all about preparation.
I prepare the main Okazu beforehand and stock in my freezer. You can never be too prepared. If you have stocks, you can pack various kind of food. That makes your Bento well-balanced. Moreover, you can save your time.
I always make 5 Okazu for a Bento, it takes me about 30 to 40 minutes to cook, thanks to the stocks.
Let me show you some of the examples.
Daily Bento for Kids
kindergarten to lower grade of the elementary school student.
Rice: Onigiri rice balls.
The amount of rice is the equal amount of their rice bowl. ※see above
Kids are not good at using chopsticks, so, moms make Onigiri to easy to eat.
“Tukune” meatball: made from ground chicken.
Skewer a flag to it and they can grab by hand, and also, it looks appealing.
“Octopus sausage” : we can’t talk about kids Bento without this cute stuff. It’s a must.
“Tamagoyaki” : make into heart-shape with an easy arrange.
“Veggie rolled cutlet”: red bell pepper and asparagus rolled in sliced pork. Bread it, then deep fry. This is a good dish for kids don’t eat vegetables.
“Broccoli alio olio” : season with just a little bit of salt, olive oil and a hint of garlic powder. The smell of raw garlic stays in your mouth for a while, but the garlic powder adds just an aroma. My son doesn’t like broccoli as it is, but he eats this.
Daily Bento for Teenagers
This bento box is for junior-high-school to high-school girl.
capacity 600～700ml for girls 800～1200ml for boys
Rice : the same amount of a rice bowl.(girls: 150~160g, boys 250~400g) Umeboshi on top if you like.
“Karaage”: or other deep fried main dish is very popular in Bento.
Especially for students, deep fried dish is popular because it fill their appetite longer.
“Tamagoyaki” : indispensable
“Broccoli sesame dressing” : Boil, season with “sushi-vinegar” and toasted and ground sesame seed.
“Carrot namul” : Sautee shredded carrot with sesame oil. Season with just a little bit of salt and garlic powder.
The space is limited so I want pack nutritious green and yellow vegetables. Cook until wilt, then pack as much quantity you can.
“Sauteed sausage” : A staple for Japanese Bento. Score the surface to cook faster and look nice, then sautee with another stuff. To save my time, I cook on one fryng pan. This product contains no preservatives and color, safe to eat.
“Potate salad wrapped with ham” : My son’s all time favorite.
Daily Bento for grown-ups
This is a typical bento for grown-ups bring to the office. We pack grilled fish and simmered veggies for healthier bento. Balanced in nutrition, lower in calories.
capacity 500～600ml for women 700~800ml for men
the same amount of a rice bowl.(women : 120~150g men : 150~200g)
“Grilled salmon” : Salmon is very popular fish packed in Bento. Because it’s less fishy compare to the other. And it contains omega 3 fat to keep your body and brain healthy.
“Scallion Tamagoyaki” : Mix chopped scallion to Tamagoyaki, for a change. It is aromatic and also, visually appealing.
“Simmered Kabocha squash” : Sweet and savory, taste good if it chilled. One of the staple vegetable Okazu for Bento.
“Sauteed shimeji mushroom” : Mushroom contains lots of fiber and the calorie is very low. Great source for strengthen immune system.
“Rolled pork in teriyaki sauce” : Grownups don’t want excess fat. Rolled pork is ssatisfying if it’s not deep fried.
“Green pepper ohitashi” : Add one more vegetable Okazu cooking in microwave. I don’t really use microwave but not this time. It tastes better when it’s cooked in microwave.
・Line lettuce to avoid slippering and to fill Okazu nicely.
・Use “disposable cups” for each Okazu to separate the taste.
・Don’t use a partition comes with Bento box, because it prevents packing food as much as possible. However, it’s good to use as a guide to packing rice in place.
・You want to pack Okazu no space in between. Otherwise the stuff go one side to another while commuting.
That’s it for today.
I will show you Bento prep. next week!
Here is the list for the Bento and cookware on my Amazon The Store
I earn small amount of money on the store.
Thanks for your continuous support!