Everything You Should Know About A Japanese Bento Box
Bento is a Japanese lunch box. It usually comes in a single-portion, a small box full of love and delicious foods. Traditionally, Bento boxes are prepared by mothers to express their love. Nowadays, bento becomes a concept of takeout food when it comes in a box which we can buy from convenience stores, restaurants, and bento speciality shops, with utensils provided.
What Is A Japanese Bento Box?
‘Ben’ in bento comes from the word ‘benli’ which means convenient, so the size of bento box is compact, and easily carryable in a bento bag with portable cutleries. Some of the bags come with insulation to keep foods warm. Due to the size of the box, the food placement is a delicate work, not only to make use of every little corner of the box, at the same time, to prevent the mixing of different content in order to not affect the overall flavor. Bento boxes are convenient, easy to eat, pleasingly appealing, affordable, healthy and tasty.
What is inside/contents in a bento box
Bento is important for daily nutrition intake. In order to have a balanced meal, carbs, protein and various vegetables, pickles and fruits are the major categories to add into your bento.
Color is also an important role inside bento, like red, orange, yellow, green, white, black or purple. They are not only for aesthetic purposes, nutrition value is also another consideration. The most important base ingredient is rice, white rice, brown rice, rice cooked with red/azuki beans or mixed grains, mixed with seaweed is also a way to make rice flavourful too.
A good choice of texture and flavor of foods can bring much layer and balance of taste. Pickled plum not only gives a kick in flavor, it can also aid digestion. Different vegetables are usually a go-to. They can be boiled, fried, pickled, and prepared in various ways to give different texture. Tamagoyaki is a simple and classic bento box food, which is a rolled omelet.
Peeking Inside Japanese Bento Boxes
Some writing or drawing with tomato sauce or seaweed can be a fun touch as well. Tonkatsu is a breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet, a savory and mouthful bento food choice, if you don’t like pork, use chicken instead. Grilled fish, usually mackerel, salmon or eel is a healthy option. Gyudon, slow cooked beef with onions on rice, a traditional yet yummy one.
Don’t forget to put some tako-san wiener in your bento box, which is an octopus-shaped sausage to light up your day. Making bento boxes is something to spark our creativity, trying and examining different combinations of food, and taking pictures after opening a beautiful bento box to capture your decorative work and also the memory from the fun of cooking.
All Kind of Japanese Bento Boxes
There are many different types of bento boxes. The most common one is called makunouchi bento, a classic type of bento, widely available in convenience stores, supermarkets and department stores. This was originally served during intermissions of Japanese theater in the 16th century. It comes in two sections, rice on one side, side dishes on the other side, so you don’t have to worry that the rice will be soggy because of the juice from the side dishes.
Koraku bento translates to ‘picnic lunch box’, it is relatively larger than the normal bento box. It is usually shared among a group of family/friends during outdoor events. This is popular during cherry blossom viewing season. Ingredients are chosen to reflect the season, usually including onigiri (rice ball) and makizushi (sushi rolls).
Ekiben, eki translates to train station, which is a lunch box sold at major train stations on the platform or train. It started around the 1900s. For the high quality luxurious lunch box, it comes in plastic, wooden or ceramic containers. The ingredients are locally grown to celebrate the local station or special train line. It applies to airports as well, it is called soraben.
Character Bento is a lunch box featuring animals or popular characters from anime, manga, cartoon or TV. Kyara refers to character, it is an expression of art and creativity. It helps kids to eat more, and encourages them to eat food that they usually don’t enjoy eating.
Hinomaru bento embodies the symbol of Japan, white base made with rice, with red pickle topping at the middle to recreate the Japanese flag, with a side dish of meat/fish and veggies, a simple and elegant bento.
After learning much about different types of bento boxes with all different kinds of ingredients, which one is your favorite bento box? How will you make your own bento box? Visit FUJIOH Global in the near future for tasty and authentic Japanese Bento recipes.