Bonkers for Bento

Joined Oct 11, 2010
In my efforts to further deplete my nightly slumber I have recently become somewhat addicted to preparing bentos (or obento, if you prefer).  When I was a little girl I was enamored with anything miniature and/or compartmentalized.  It think that's why these initially piqued my interest.  There's something very therapeutic about preparing them.  I can understand the joy of Japanese mothers who traditionally made these for their children's lunches to show how much they love them.  There are some supremely talented artists out there who make elaborate and beautiful bentos.

My first attempt at making bento was cute but left me famished.  The small Japanese boxes hold only small portions of food anyway, but in my attempt to make an adorable food 'scene', I left myself with ultimately 3 cm-thin pieces of clementine, two whole grapes and a leaf of romaine.  Luckily I'd brought a sweet potato that wouldn't fit in the bento box with me to nuke. 

My second attempt was much more filling.  It is below in my two-tiered bento box.  In my top tier (left) below you'll see three tawara onigiri (bales of rice), sliced cucumber and some fried chicken pieces left over from dinner.  In my bottom tier (right), I tried to make a grape 'Christmas tree' with presents underneath (barely visible) and some cream cheese/jalepeno pepper jam spirals.

My question:  Does anyone else bento?

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Joined Aug 18, 2007
Your bento box looks great...For 2 layers

Bento should give you a filling and nutritious lunch.

Some pickles would be good too

Good luck with your experimenting.

Not so sure mama san is that happy having to get up with the larks to lovingly prep this everyday for her man. But I can see where you're coming from
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Joined Oct 9, 2008
I've been known to bento, particularly when I was sending my son to school in Japan.

The big trick to pre-preparing obento, assuming you believe in sleep, is to have a tier for rice and a tier for other things. You make the rice in a cooker and just slap it in before packing up in the morning. The rest you lay out in advance. That way you don't have to get up at the crack of dawn.

If you need to make pictures for a kid, the most useful things to have around are (a) very thin layer of firm-cooked scrambled egg, sort of like a thin omelet, not rolled, and (b) a sheet of nori and clean scissors. You can cut the egg into shapes and decorate with the nori. Tomato is tricky because even if you skin and deseed it, it'll tend to bleed out sideways. Getting the hang of katsura-muki, the technique of peeling a vegetable in a large continuous sheet, is quite useful, because it allows you some other colors.

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