In this part of tutorial, I want to share about some other tools that might help our bento and kyaraben preparation. There are hundreds of tools and accessories out there, most of them are not expensive (on price range of $2 to $7 each, some can be grab around $15, only a few tools net above $20) and you probably want to buy lots (or all) of them. I used to buy lots of them even before I made a single bento and I still have lots of tools and accessories that haven’t been used until now, after 2 years having them. So now I really refrain myself only buying tools that will be very useful for me so I can use the funds for something else and avoid buying another containers to store those tools.
Basically these tools are categorized into :
- molds, like onigiri (rice ball) molds, bread molds, and egg (chicken or quail) molds
- cutters for cutting vegetables, ham, bread, and cheese
- punchers, mostly for nori
- containers for food, sauce, and furikake (dry Japanese condiment)
- food picks and
- food dividers
Of course there are another tools with very specific function, I will explain them in another post but for now I will share the most common tools out there for bento and kyaraben making.
Rice (onigiri) molds
While we can make just any shapes with a piece of plastic wrap and our hands, but these tools can be quite useful.
As the name implies, they’re function is to make onigiri. The traditional onigiri are shaped into balls and triangles but with these molds we can have onigiri with shapes like flower, heart, and many different animals. While they have different shapes and types, most of them are used the same way; we put enough rice into the mold, press with the lid cover, then we take out the onigiri from the mold. Prepare a bowl and fill it with water and mix with 1 (one) teaspoon of salt to sprinkled into the mold so the rice won’t stick inside the mold.
We use these cutters to decorate our bento, whether it’s for parts for characters or just making simple decoration shapes like heart, star, and flower. The most common food used for cutting are carrots, cucumber, cheese, ham, and bread (usually using larger cutter).
These cutters usually sold as sets so we can get many different shapes at once. While we can cut most things with knife or art knife I have to admit that these cutters are very useful. But just don’t limit ourselves to make things with only these tools, sometimes we need to cut some shapes with a knife to make something special.
When I was a kid I only know one type of puncher and it’s purpose is to make holes into papers for binding. Time past and now we have hundreds of punchers that make hundreds of shapes. Those punchers are sold in art shelves as craft and scrapbook tools but we, bento makers, use them to punch nori to create small details like eyes and animals’ nose. With increasing popularity of bento making now we have punchers made specifically for nori (although we still can use them for punching paper).
We can use scissors to cut those nori but it’s a very hard thing to do. If you only want to have a small bento tools collection then I must say that this shoe shaped nori puncher (the one with yellow and green color) is a must have item in your inventory.
With these cute food picks, you don’t need to make any decorations at all and your bento will instantly look adorable.
I’ve seen lots of different food picks sold out there, with price range of $2 to $4 only for a set (usually contain 10 to 20 picks). While it’s cheap make sure to have lots of these since usually most of them won’t coming back from school ;)
We use containers to separate different kind of food so they’re not touching each other to prevent food from spoiling. Sometimes we don’t need to use this, it really depends on what food we want to put into our bento box. There are different materials we can choose for food containers; we can use silicon which is durable and can be put into oven and microwave, plastic containers (durable but can’t be put into oven and microwave), or disposable containers made from aluminum foil, plastic, or paper.For condiments, we can buy these cute containers to put soy sauce or ketchup while adding some nice decoration for our bento and kyaraben.
For small effort we can have some nice egg decoration for our bento. While it’s very easy to use; we just put boiled egg into the mold, close it and soak it into cold water; the hard part is choosing the right size of egg to put into the mold :p
These egg molds have two sizes, one for chicken egg and one for quail egg.Like I said earlier, there are more bento tools out there that I’m not cover in this post, but from my experiences the tools above are the most common, easy to find and the most used tools among bento makers. We don’t need to have all these tools (except maybe the nori puncher) to make bento or kyaraben, since the greatest tool for making bento is our own creativity.