A simple bento

1 Posted by - January 31, 2011 - Bento Art, Lunch bento, Tutorial (English)

Continuing from bento tools tutorial, now after we’ve all familiar with all the tools then it’s time for us to make some bento. Since this is a basic tutorial for beginner bento makers, the purpose is to show that we can make a simple (but neat) bento using most tools that we have in our house. I won’t show kyaraben making yet, we’ll get into that later, but for the bento newbie it’s important to get the right feeling first, that we know how much food that we need to prepare to fill one bento box and whether we enjoy ourselves making one.

There are some basic bento making rules, one of them is packing. The usual combination is 3 (three) parts carbohydrates (rice or pasta), 1 (one) part protein, and 2 (two) parts fruits and vegetables into one bento box. While it’s good to follow this rule to get a balanced meal but in reality you can put anything you like as long as the foods are bento material. If you don’t want the food touching one another, just prepare some food cups to separate them.

Another rule is to fully pack your bento food into the box so all the foods are still in their original position when opened later. This is very important since we don’t want to have abstract art while our kids want to show off their kyaraben to their friends. One good way to easily solve this problem is always having gap filler foods at our disposal such as cherry tomatoes, grapes, strawberries, baby potatoes, sausages, and quail eggs.

One easy tip to make a nice looking bento is to prepare several different colors of foods into the bento box, for example: white rice, green broccoli, yellow corn, red cherry tomato, and golden brown nuggets. Then all we have to do is placing all those foods in a well thought place to create a nice looking bento, just like chefs at fine dining restaurants prepare their plating. If you want to create an elaborate kyaraben then it’s good to make some sketches first before we go to the kitchen.

Now we’re ready to make a bento. It is better to have all the foods (rice or pasta or noodle along with the other dishes plus the gap filler) ready first and then we can put them inside the bento box right away. Right now I have white rice, fried chicken tulips, broccoli chunks, corn, lettuces, tofu sandwich, and cherry tomatoes. I have this 600 ml penguin shaped bento box with a removable container, so we can use it for some rice and other food or not use it at all. For now I’m using it to put some white rice.We have this large space to work on the other foods. I like putting some lettuces as a base in almost all my bento to served as a nice green decoration and also sometimes as a food separator, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Just make sure the lettuces are all dry before we put it inside the bento box.Then all we have to do is putting other food into the bento box. Usually I put the meat first, in this case two fried chicken tulips, then after arranged them nicely I put the corn, broccoli chunk, tofu sandwich, and a cherry tomato as gap filler. I sprinkled white and black sesame seeds on the white rice to add some colors so the rice not just plain white.It only took about 5-10 minutes (minus the cooking) to prepare a very simple bento. And as we can see that we only need a small amount of each food to fill up one bento box, even if we use 1,000 ml bento box, we only need to add more rice, one chicken tulip, more broccoli chunks and maybe one or two strawberries or a small mandarin oranges to fill it up.

I will finish this tutorial here since I’ve shown how to prepare a simple bento without any bento tools at all. But since we’ve already got a bento here, if we have some food picks for only two minutes we can have a playful animal theme bento without having to make any animal decoration at all.I’m still using the same bento and arranged some foods position with the food picks already attached to have a better dynamic. I also put tomato sauce inside a sauce container (same animal theme) as condiment for the fried chickens. So if we don’t have much time to prepare a bento this food picks arrangement will do the trick.